Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Email privacy issues including anonymous email, secure email, email encryption, email tracing and more.

Can I be traced by my email address?

Depending on how careful you've been about posting public information about yourself, an email address can lead people to find a lot about you.

Can I find out where my email address has been used?

Most sites that require registration and an e-mail address do not make that information available for searching. In fact, they shouldn't.

Can I prevent someone from saving photos shared over Yahoo IM?

It is very easy to capture and save images from the internet, whether they are from websites or social networks. Anything you put out there can easily be grabbed.

Can I prevent something from being forwarded by adding a legal statement to my message?

Ultimately, I think the best thing to do is realize that it can be forwarded, regardless of what technology you use.

Can I tell if the person who shares my Gmail account has ever checked the search history?

If an account is being shared, then Google has no way of knowing who is at the keyboard. I explore how search history works and what might be found there.

Can encrypted e-mail be sniffed?

Encrypted email cannot be sniffed, but chances are that you aren't using encrypted email. I'll explain what I mean and what you might want to do.

Can my company read the email I send via Hotmail on my work computer?

When sending email on a company owned computer or using a company owned network, the company can watch. They can likely read your email and much more.

Can the IT department send emails that look like they are from me?

The IT department has physical access to your email account. That means they can do any number of things with it.

Did someone really send me photos on Tagged?

Many people are getting messages from Tagged indicating that a friend has posted photos. Here's a clue: they didn't.

Did we learn anything from the recent email scandal?

Hiding emails online in the Drafts folder does not add a layer of security. It can still be accessed by the authorities.

Do email tracking services work?

Tracking services exist which claim to be able to tell you whether or not someone has opened your email. They're only half right.

Does the browser store passwords in cookies?

Once you've logged into a site cookies are often used to keep you logged in for some period of time. There are risks associated with that, and more.

How can I keep my email safe from sniffing?

We'll look at what sniffing is and ways to avoid it.

How can I send a document to someone securely?

Email is architected as a fairly unsecure media. That means that there are many things that can go wrong when email gets delivered and protecting yourself can be difficult.

How do I encrypt email?

Encrypting email is surprisingly difficult. We'll look at a practical solution that anyone can use, as well as the way it "should" work.

How do I find out who's sending harassing email?

Both children and adults can receive harassing or abusive email. Sadly there's no easy way to trace it back to a sender who doesn't want to be found.

How do I know if someone is opening my email before I read it, then marking it as unread?

Without installing keystroke logging or other spyware on your computer, there's no way to tell if anyone is reading your emails before you do.

How do I send an email that can't be traced back to me?

You are right not to send it from work or your home. It's going to take some extra steps to keep from being traced.

How do I send anonymous email?

Many people want to be able to send anonymous email; email for which the sender cannot be identified. It´s easy. And it´s impossible.

How do I send encrypted email?

How do I stop someone from sending me harassing email?

Stopping someone from sending you harassing email is harder than you might expect. Techniques to blocking harassing email are imperfect, at best.

How do I switch to an encrypted connection to my ISP's email servers?

Encrypting a connection to your mail server requires more than just checking a box. Different ISPs have enabled it in different ways and on different ports.

How easy is it to forge or alter email?

Email is easy, ubiquitous, and almost trivial to forge or alter. We'll look at why that is, what it means, and one approach to avoiding it.

I let a stranger send email from my computer, what could that have done?

It's tempting and even noble to want to help, but letting a stranger access your computer without strict supervision is asking for trouble.

If someone starts using my old email address could they find my information?

Online email providers have stringent security functions in place to reduce duplication and hacking of email as much as possible.

Is Yahoo (or Gmail or Hotmail or ...) reading my email?

Many of the free email services run ads along side your email that are targeted to the content of the message. My opinion? Nothing to worry about.

Is it safe to get receipts and statements in email?

In the quest to go paperless, many companies offer statements and other information in electronic form. I'll look at what's typically safe and secure.

Is my email account private?

If someone else shares or administers your email account, then your privacy could easily be at risk.

Is online email ever really deleted permanently?

Online email is probably not permanently deleted - although for all practical purposes, you should assume you do not have access to those backups.

My ex-friends tell me they can read my email, that it'll go to them. Is that possible? What do I do?

If friends (especially ex-friends) are looking at your email and they have access to your account, I would seriously consider that you treat this has a hacked email account.

Should I always sign out of my online email account?

It is perfectly safe to stay logged into your email account if you keep yourself protected from a few specific scenarios.

What can someone tell from my email address?

Email addresses are generally not a gateway to much more than public information, but still use caution when sharing it with someone who you don't trust.

Why am I getting a bounce to an email I sent from someone I didn't send it to?

Often times when you send an email and there's a problem you'll get a bounce in return. If that bounce is from someone else, something might be fishy.

Why are some pictures blocked in email, and how do I stop that?

Blocking remote images in email is a common and important anti-spam technique. We'll look at how to turn it off, and then discuss why you shouldn't.

Why did my email apparently get delivered to the wrong person?

Email addresses are by definition, fairly specific. It's unlikely but malware, misconfiguration or other interference could cause misdeliveries.

Why do some unsubscribes require me to retype my email address?

Retyping your email to unsubscribe is an unnecessary barrier to being removed from an email list. With today's technology, it should not be required.

Why is it so bad to leave the email addresses in an email I forward?

By forwarding email that includes previously-forwarded email addresses, you're exposing all of those people to a couple of risks and annoyances.

Why should I use a different computer to send anonymous email?

Sending truly anonymous email can be tricky, and just about any piece of semi-consistent data can be used to ID you, often including your machine name.