Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Email security can be enhanced by setting up an anonymous email account, but that is still not completely totally secure.
I want to correspond with an inmate in prison, like on Death Row as a pen pal, but I want to remain anonymous for security reasons. Will my IP tell where I live? If I go to my local library, open a new email account on their public computer and use this, when I send and receive email, will I remain anonymous then?
In this excerpt from Answercast #71, I look at creating anonymous emails and how safe that might be.
Well, I actually have an article on "Sending anonymous email." It's pretty short, but it boils down to pretty much what you are suggesting you do at the public library.
Go somewhere that isn't your home;
Create a completely new, free email account using Hotmail or Gmail or Yahoo or any of the other free email account services;
Make sure that all of the information you enter is fake;
And then use that to send whatever email you're trying to send.
Now, I will say, the IP address doesn't identify you specifically in most cases. It is very difficult for someone (and I would assume extremely difficult for someone behind bars) to identify who specifically is at a specific IP address.
That being said, if there is ever legal reason to figure that out, then yes, the authorities of course can go to the ISP and find out who was at that IP address at that particular time - and at least, get it to the home or the place where that IP address terminates. Whether or not that is enough to identify you is totally unclear.
Even libraries (depending on your level of paranoia)... what an IP would allow them to do is say that, "Yes, somebody at this library, at this time, sent a piece of email."
Even though all of your email information is faked, the IP address of the library is still in the email message. Like I said, depending on your level of paranoia and level of safety you need to take for this, security cameras at the library could synchronize with the times on the emails and potentially show them who you are.
So, be careful when sending anonymous email.
I almost always recommend against it. There are definitely important times when it's useful to do so. Exactly how far you have to go and how anonymous you need to remain really depends on the specific situation of not only who you are talking with - but what you're talking about and your own personal situation.
So, I would certainly start by going to someplace other than your home,
create this fake account, and use that.
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