How to Protect Your Email From Spam and Data Breaches
One of the most dangerous aspects of how the Internet has grown and developed is due to the use of antique systems still being used to serve people's needs. Email is just one such example. The email protocol is great because it's designed to be interoperable - in that email from one service can be sent to emails from any other service (unlike walled gardens like Facebook Messenger/WhatsApp which can't be sent outside of that system). But email is also inherently insecure - despite improvements, data sent via email can become visible to outside viewers far more easily than most of us would like. And, worse, emails themselves have become a point of security failure! When you use your email as your username to log into a website, you're automatically making yourself less secure.
Think about it: how many websites do you know of that ask you to use your email address as a security measure when you're signing in? And yes, your username on a website is a security measure. We've seen major data leaks from popular websites continue to rise, and that means that all your data on that website might be compromised. As soon as that happens, your email is out there, floating around the Internet... and it's a gold mine. How many different services do you use that single email to sign in to? Once a bad actor has it, poof, they've got part of the key that they need to log into every other service that uses the same email.
And, even if you're just sick of getting spam emails, wouldn't it be nice if there were a foolproof way to keep your true email accounts hidden from those spammy sites and email lists you don't actually want to sign up for?
Email forwarding systems allow you to keep your real email safe, while offering massive flexibility in terms of how to interact with the World Wide Web. Read on to get a look at my top picks for this type of service, including those that can be self-hosted for maximum security.
A note on security
Best practices say: don't use these services for vital information! Remember, email is inherently insecure. For important things, like letters to loved ones, bank accounts, etc., use an email service that specializes in privacy -- and, even then, don't expect absolute privacy and safety! Extremely sensitive information (your location, your credit card number) should only be sent using a service such as Signal Messenger.
As a final note for advanced users, if you're interested in which of these services utilize PGP (Pretty Good Protection), I leave a comment about that following each section.