Email Masking: How to Keep Your Inbox Private & Secure
April 17, 2023
What’s the most valuable piece of information cybercriminals want to get out of you? It’s not necessarily your social security number or your credit card information. It's actually your login credentials that let a hacker get their foot in the door. After all, 63% of data breaches start with something small, like stolen or weak login credentials.
And with a 61% rise in phishing attacks from 2021 to 2022, being alert is more important than ever.
Fortunately, protecting yourself, and keeping your email private, is possible using email masking.
In this article, you'll learn what email masking is and how you can use it to shield your personal data from cybercrimes and hackers.
Email masking explained
Email masking is the process of replacing an email address with a generic, non-identifiable “masked” address that protects the privacy of the original sender and recipient. This way, you get email aliases that allow you to keep your real information hidden.
In short, masked emails allow a person to send and receive emails without revealing their true email which also protects personal information and identity. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple to do. Create a masked email directly on the web page using the IronVest browser extension. You can now make on-the-fly, anonymous email addresses whenever a new account sign-up prompts you for your email address. No risk, no friction. Just a quick layer of ID protection.
With email masking, you can obtain an address like “firstname.lastname@example.org” and IronVest will autofill that on any website that asks for your email address. It is, quite literally, an email “mask.” And like a mask, it hides your information from fraudsters and would-be identity thieves. From phishing attacks to financial scams to data breaches, there’s no shortage of email security threats. So email masking is a no-brainer when it comes to protecting yourself online.
Email masking is one type of data masking, which is a process used to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access or misuse. Many companies offer data masking for passwords but this does not go far enough. It’s vital to use a service that protects you from the risks associated with sharing your email online.
Benefits of email masking
A hidden email address provides multiple benefits. Using these to your advantage will help keep your personal data secure and private.
As public data breaches showcase, companies large and small are susceptible to hackers. The more companies you share your email with, the more you open your information up to malicious activity.
For instance, LinkedIn was hacked in 2021 in a massive breach that affected 700 million users. The information was obtained through data scraping and all personal information was up for sale on the dark web.
One of the best benefits of using email masking is that your personal data is less likely to be compromised if a company experiences a data breach. So opt for a masked, anonymous email when possible as an added layer of protection.
Reduce spam in your inbox
When you mask your email address, the recipient is unable to trace it back to your personal address. This makes it easier to block or ignore emails sent to your masked email address if you don't want to respond.
All your masked emails can be forwarded to your regular address if you choose this option. With IronVest, for example, you get a dedicated masked email inbox where you can read, reply and manage forwarding settings. Plus, you can easily block unwanted senders without them ever knowing. No more asking to unsubscribe or filling out feedback forms when you no longer want to hear from a company.
Reduce cyber attacks
Almost 65% of hackers use spear phishing emails as the primary form of attack. With an anonymous email, the hacker can't determine your real email address, making it harder for them to launch an attack.
Protect yourself from phishing and other forms of cyberattacks by using a sophisticated email masking service from IronVest. With IronVest, you can create a masked email in seconds to protect your sensitive data at all touchpoints.
When should you use a masked email?
Email crime is more common than you may suspect. In fact, the FBI’s 2022 Internet Crime Report found that phishing scams- in which individuals and businesses are targeted via email- took the number one spot for reported cybercrime incidents. We use email for almost everything these days. From communicating with friends to signing into social media or a bank account, an email address and a password is the digital-age version of a heavy set of keys.
When should you protect those keys? The same answer as regular keys: all the time.
But let’s get specific. To protect your privacy online, implement a masked email when you are:
Signing up for a new service
Signing up for a newsletter
Making purchases online
Signing up for a loyalty program
Entering contests or giveaways
Using social media profiles
Using public WiFi networks
When sharing personal information in any way, it is important to use an email masking service like IronVest. This way, you avoid opening yourself up to fraud and maintain your privacy.
Set up a browser extension and mobile app
The convenience of masked email? You don’t have to constantly be on guard. You can simply add an extension like IronVest. These tools will automatically fill in masked email information online. You simply have to download them, browse with them, and keep them active.
Mobile apps bring this convenience and privacy to more areas of your life. Let's say you're abroad in London and want to buy tickets for a show. Why give your real email address to a service you will only use once? If you have a mobile app that masks your email address installed, you protect your privacy without sacrificing ease of use.
When to use a real email vs. masked email
When should you use your regular email address? After all, won’t all this masking get confusing? With a browser extension handy, you won’t find it causes any additional friction. But if you do use your real email address without masking, make sure you keep a few things in mind:
Use a password you don’t use anywhere else. One of the easiest ways for someone to hack your identity is to lift a password they found from another account, then use that to access your email. With your email address, they can change other passwords, locking you out of your accounts.
Use a password without any identifying information in it. If someone sees you have a pet named “Rex,” for example, and that you like to use Rex2015 as a password, they’re halfway to hacking you. Instead, use a password generator to create tough-to-crack alphanumeric strings. And set up multi-factor authentication where possible. A tool like IronVest can even protect your MFA codes from getting hacked.
How to mask your email address
Now that you understand the importance of email masking and the best times to use it, you need to understand the different ways you can hide your email. The method you select will depend on your budget and the amount of protection you are looking for.
Use a fake email account
Creating a fake email account is a popular way to mask your true identity online. To do so, you can create an account with an email provider such as Gmail or Outlook. Then, when filling out the profile, provide a pseudonym and false address.
Additionally, it is important to make sure you pick a unique username that is not easily associated with you in order to maximize your anonymity. Unfortunately, you’ll have to switch between multiple email accounts, so it's not the most user-friendly option for obtaining a hidden email.
Additionally, it is important to make sure you pick a unique username that is not easily associated with you in order to maximize your anonymity.
Easy to Remember. A fake email account is easy to remember and log in to.
Affordable. Email accounts and fake email accounts are often free, which means you don’t have to get out the credit card every time you want to sign up somewhere.
Complex to track. Once you start using fake email accounts as masks, you have to keep track of them. Otherwise, you might design a system so secure even if you forget how to access it.
Time-consuming. Switching in and out, managing email accounts—it all adds up. If convenience is your priority, this is not the right approach. You can’t add your real email address and fake email address to the extension so it won’t autofill.
Use an email masking service
Email masking services are a popular way to protect your privacy when sending emails. Unlike a fake email account that you have to log into, a masked email service will automatically forward emails to your true address. Additionally, IronVest masked emails can be created or auto-filled on any website, right from the browser extension or mobile app. IronVest even lets you customize your masked email addresses for easy association with the accounts or services you use them with.
Convenience. The masking service handles details like autofills and email management, making it much less frustrating to manage.
Speed. The autofill feature also keeps your email security tight, even while you’re zooming in and out of your various logins.
. Some email masking services might require that you use certain platforms or browsers, like Safari and iOS. This can limit you if you’re using another email service.
. Depending on which masking service you use, you may find that it doesn’t offer the system-wide masking you need, meaning you need to monitor which logins use masked emails.
Send emails from an alias address
Gmail allows you to set up alias addresses when you want to protect your original address from being used. To do this, access your settings in the Send Mail As section. Here, you'll be able to change your name to protect your original address and reduce spam or cyberattacks.The drawback to random email addresses is that they are not impenetrable to hackers, meaning they can still be accessed in more sophisticated attacks. Additionally, these can be difficult to keep track of which leads to confusion for the sender and recipients.
Name-changing. This helps you prevent your name from turning up into data breaches that result from phishing attacks.
Convenience. “Send mail as” is a great way to mask yourself with a click—as long as you remember it. Doesn’t help when signing up for a service on a website.
Security. The drawback to random email addresses is that they are not impenetrable to hackers, meaning they can still be accessed in more sophisticated attacks.
Tracking. Send email as” emails can be difficult to keep track of which can potentially lead to confusion for senders and recipients.
Email masking providers for enhanced online security
Luckily, you have plenty of options to complete your email masking without much effort on your end. The services below allow you to protect sensitive data in your email account using anonymous emails.
Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)
Apple's Mail privacy protection service is a feature that allows you to send encrypted emails through the Apple Mail app. If you’re on a Safari browser, you can use it—but only if currently logged into an Apple Device. If you are, it offers end-to-end encryption for all sent and received emails, meaning all email content is secured and can't be viewed by anyone without the necessary decryption key. The service also provides anonymous forwarding so all replies from recipients will be forwarded anonymously, providing even greater levels of privacy.
Routes through a proxy server
Preloads all content before sending to recipient
Doesn't allow pixels to track your information
Since it’s not compatible with non-Apple devices, your use of MPP is limited.
Firefox Relay is a secure email service offered by Mozilla, the creator of the Firefox browser. You'll have security for all sent and received emails. Additionally, Firefox Relay has an auto-delete feature that allows you to have emails automatically deleted after a certain period, and an optional lock-down mode that restricts access to sent and received messages.
Provides up to 5 aliases
Holds up to 150 KB of data for each email
No tags or recordings are available to find previous aliases
You need to login to your Firefox dashboard to manage
IronVest provides complete and total security for every move you make online. While email masking is certainly included as part of the service, you'll also gain access to biometric login protection, 2FA by SMS (SIM Swap) protection, masked phone numbers, virtual cards, and website anti-tracking. IronVest is the only solution that offers all-in-one security and privacy tools that protect your personal data from cyberattacks.
3 Free email aliases, unlimited customized addresses in the Ultimate plan
Generate a masked email in seconds
Part of a comprehensive suite of security and privacy features
Round-the-clock security monitoring
All-in-one security and privacy offerings like masked credit cards and account login protection
Unlimited masked aliases are only in Plus and Ultimate packages
Generate a secure masked email in less time than it takes you to think of a new password.
With Fastmail, you have access to masked emails and password management integrations like 1Password. The result: email masking without any of the inconvenience of searching around for which email password goes where. Users also get additional email addresses to use at their convenience. You'll gain access to an ad-free email platform that allows you to schedule your mail at any time or snooze it for convenience.
Customizable spam filters
Good notification system
Supports PGP and IMAP
No free version
No end-to-end encryption
Requires users to create and manage two separate accounts
Protect your information with IronVest
Protect your accounts, identity, and most sensitive accounts and data with IronVest's email masking service. You'll be protected from data breaches as hackers won't be able to trace your original email address or use it to try credential stuff their way into your accounts. You can also clean up your inbox and even block spam without the sender knowing who you are.
Try out IronVest today and start securing your online accounts, data, and identity.