Free, secure, private email?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Simple Living, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Simple Living macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2007
    I've looked through the archives and only found older discussions on this.

    I'm not very technologically savvy. Frankly, I don't trust the internet for anything personal. I don't have a blog, MySpace, Facebook or any other such accounts.

    But, I'm finding the need to have a real email account for communicating with a few people. I've lived for years without one but now it would be convenient. I'm even considering blogging.

    I've read so much about how email providers are NOT safe or secure. (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.,) I've also learned how supposedly safe and secure email providers like HushMail are NOT safe or secure.

    My question is two-fold. 1) Which free email service provider is best? And 2) What is it that I'm supposed to be concerned about when I register an email account? What kind of information is being hacked, stolen, stored, etc.? Is registering for an email account that is only used for general, personal communication something I should be worried about? Isn't that information already out there just having a computer, cell phone, online banking or other such things?

    I'd really like to understand the dangers and what the fuss is all about. Now that virtually everything is electronic (bills, banking, online purchases, communication, etc.,) what's the average guy to do?
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Nothing is safe when it comes to the internet and if you're unwilling to pay, the chances of nothing increasing are minimal.
  3. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    "Never do or say anything on the internet you wouldn't show your mother."

    If it's ever touched the internet, there's a record of it somewhere.
  4. Simple Living thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Thanks for the responses.

    Jessica: Can you elaborate? I don't understand what you said, "if you're unwilling to pay, the chances of nothing increasing are minimal."

    Melrose: Good advice and it's already heeded. I still don't understand what info is being hacked, stolen, etc., from setting up an email account.
  5. steve2112 macrumors 68040


    Feb 20, 2009
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    Info isn't necessarily being stolen/hacked just from setting up an email account. The problem is that the major email providers are huge targets. People are constantly scanning them trying to steal passwords through things like phishing sites or even brute force. And if you are connecting to some webmail clients over something like unencrypted wireless, there could be people sniffing the traffic to get logins/passwords. I know Google now forces a secure connection to GMail through its web client, which will prevent that kind of thing, but I don't know about Yahoo or Hotmail. Of course, some people have problems with Google and their policies.

    What Jessica says is correct. Basically, you just have to accept some risk. Anything that touches the internet is vulnerable. The only way to be sure some email provider is snooping your email is to run your own email server, but that is a pain in the neck to do. And you still have to deal with people crawling the internet trying to break into your email server.

    Personally, I use GMail. The features such as the spam filter, calendar, etc, are too good to pass up. Heck, you can even make phone calls from within GMail now. Really, any of the major players will be ok if you follow basic security principles.
  6. Rooskibar03 macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    State of Denial
    Free email accounts like Gmail, Hotmail, ect are disposable and pretty easy to keep anonymous.

    If all you really want it an email to exchange messages with a few close people, then set up a Gmail account. Use only your first name to create the account and never tie anything personal to it. Don't use the folders or calendars that go along with those accounts if you want to stay off the "internet radar"

    Just setting "" gives you what you need and should you ever need to abandon the account, there really isn't anything personal associated to worry about.

    Heck I set one up to do some online car shopping. Now that I've made a purchase I'll never go back to that account again. Its already filled with dealership spam I have no use for.
  7. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    She meant free isn't without compromise. Using a GMail account is standard by now; however, you surrender your personal information to the data harvesting machine that is Google.

    Many other email providers out there don't ask much information, but their services leave much to be desired.
  8. Simple Living thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Thank you all for your responses. They really have been helpful.

    Please add to, or correct, the following summary of what I've learned here.

    Setting up a general, personal email account should be just fine as long as I'm not sharing anything I wouldn't want known publicly. Even if the email provider itself mines for information, all I have to do is register my information generically, but keep my first name in the email address for my contacts to recognize.

    Is that it?
  9. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    There's a strong point to be had there... Simply the existence of a record on some hard drive somewhere means nothing if it cannot be connected to you - therefore, having a free Hotmail account can be quite useful, but watch from where you access it. Even your local library, for example, keeps track of who uses the computers.

    The best way is to use a free email account, run Tor, use some no-traces thumbdrive browser thingie, and dump the laptop in the Bay when you're done. :cool:
  10. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    95-99% of all computer security incidents that are at the individual level can be prevented by taking two simple steps:

    1) Choose a strong password.
    2) Be intelligent about what information you give to third parties.

    You'd be surprised at how many people are incapable of thinking logically with regard to these two matters.
  11. Simple Living thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2007
    Thanks again for all of your replies. They set my mind at ease by showing me where I was over-complicating things and highlighted areas to remain cautious in.

    I actually do have a hotmail account that I've only ever used when I need an email address to register with a website. It's registered with completely fake information and I've never used it for anything personal.

    Given the information I learned, I used hotmail again (since I've not had any problems) and registered with my real first name. All other information remains false. The User ID I wanted was actually available... go figure!

    And, most importantly, my password is incredibly secure being over 10 characters long and using multiple symbols, numbers, upper and lower case letters.

    Thanks again, folks.
  12. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    personally I am a big fan of Gmail. Do remember if you are really freaked out you can always give it dummy info.

    As for likely Gmail I use it for its cloud services. My contacts for my cell phone, email, and voice mail are all stored on it and sync with my Gmail account.

    I have like 3-4 gmail accounts. 1 main and a few that have smaller uses to keep those emails out of my main email address.
  13. Melrose Suspended


    Dec 12, 2007
    You'd be surpised (well, maybe you wouldn't) at how many people choose no password whatsoever, just using defaults that ship with their product. Then they're all like "Oh, yeah, I have WPA or thingamajig whatsit dohickey encryption! I'm safe!" :rolleyes:

    If you want a neat perspective on real-world security, read Kevin Mitnick's book "Art of Deception". Some of it's sensationalized, but there are good points to be learned from what he says.
  14. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    I wouldn't be that surprised... it's fairly sad. Someone did a study where they drove around a neighborhood with a sniffer looking for unprotected networks and logged in to the router with the default settings. It almost always worked.

    Art of Intrusion is better!

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