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What is an Email Alias and Why You Should Stop Using Your Real Email Addressby@giorgiob
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5,621 reads

What is an Email Alias and Why You Should Stop Using Your Real Email Address

by Giorgio BarillàSeptember 12th, 2021
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Around 3.1 million emails are sent every [second], and 85% of them are spam. This translates into an average daily volume of **122.33 billion spam messages. Marketers have been arguing about decreases in open rates since 2015, and that’s because people are simply **tired** of scanning through hundreds of useless content when opening their email inbox. Aliases can be used to help you use an alias to filter through your inbox and unsubscribe to your real mailbox.

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Around 3.1 million emails are sent every second, and 85% of them are spam. According to Dataport, this translates into an average daily volume of 122.33 billion spam messages globally.


Marketers have been arguing about decreases in open rates since 2015, and that’s because people are simply tired of scanning through hundreds of useless content when opening their email inbox.


Our main mailbox nowadays looks like a nightmare turned reality. Currently, I have more than 50.000 unread emails in my personal mailbox and over 300.000 unread emails in all my accounts combined.

Why this matters

When I talk to people about this, they don’t seem to care that much. They see email as a dead communication channel and move on with their lives.


Although this is entirely understandable, I’d like to argue we never really got over email. Emails are still the #1 sales machine for all digital marketing enterprises, which means email traffic is still the best quality traffic you can get (probably next to Google in some instances).


Also, internet sensations that were once dead, like newsletters, are resurfacing after the 2020 wave of nonsensical content online, gathering billions of views.


We like to think of the Internet as this practical, everchanging machine. However, the Internet is very much a human creation, and as such, it evolves over time.


Evolution in the digital space doesn’t always erase old progress. Sometimes, it enhances what was already there.


WhatsApp didn’t invent anything new. Neither did Telegram, Signal, or Facebook Messenger.

However, they capitalized on what Instant Messaging meant and created something beautiful out of it that changed our lives forever.


Emails have been around since the beginning of everything. Before, “social network” was even a word. Yet, we still use them. Daily.


Why?


Because we grew accustomed to a private space where we decide what and when to see. No ads, just our own ideas and private communication.


If we don't act now to safeguard our privacy, we could all become victims of identity theft.

-Bill Nelson

The Doom of Digital Enthusiasts

If you’re like me, you created your email more than 10 years ago. And now, you’re doomed.


You can have as many spam filters as you want, but there’s no going back to a clean inbox and a consent-driven exchange of messages after so much time.


My personal email has been breached an indefinite number of times (you can check if yours is secure at HaveIBeenPwned), and I receive an absurd amount of emails per day from people I don’t remember, Companies I hate, and Products I no longer use.


Going through each one of them and clicking “unsubscribe” to follow a three-step unsubscribe process would take me days - if not weeks.


This is the main reason Gmail invented the “Important” tag, to filter through our own junk.


A couple of years ago, the market of tech enthusiasts started shifting towards a more practical, even pragmatic, use of emails. And it’s thanks to aliases.

How Email Aliases Can Help Declutter Your Inbox

I’m confident everyone here knows what an alias is, but just in case: an email alias is a forwarding address. It takes what it’s sent to it and forwards it to your real mailbox.


This concept can be used to:


  1. mask your real email address (for privacy-enthusiasts)
  2. substitute your business email (if you can send emails from the alias)
  3. add extra layers of security to otherwise insecure email clients (such as PGP on top of Gmail)


Email aliasing solutions nowadays are what VPNs and Password Managers were 5-6 years ago. It’s something reserved for the small niche of techies and hasn’t breached the consumer market yet.


However, email aliases can be incredibly useful for the average consumer as well.


For us techies, email aliases are useful to ditch GSuite and save money, add PGP to our content sent via the alias, and so much more, but to a normal internet user, aliases can help reduce the clutter in their inbox substantially.


Aliasing provides you with a “kill-switch.”

The Kill-Switch: Stop the “Unsubscribe” Nightmare

Consent is not fun if it’s hard to take back.


Newsletter and web services make it a pain to unsubscribe so that they can keep your precious email in their database.


You don’t really have control of your main mailbox, as that’s used across thousands of websites and apps.


With aliases, you can take back control. If you use a different email alias for each service you subscribe to, you will always have the ability to disable the alias and puff - they can’t contact you anymore.


That newsletter you’re not interested in anymore? Click - gone with one click in your email aliasing solution.


That service you stopped using in 2018? Click - gone.


One of your aliases was in a data breach? Click - gone.


On a scale, imagine having 2000 aliases and being able to filter through them, bulk delete them, bulk inactivate/activate, and send emails from them.


These aliases would also be platform-agnostic, meaning you can use them on top of any email solution.


Would this give you part of your freedom back? I bet it would.


I can't in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building.

-Edward Snowden

How to Create Your Privacy-Preserving Email Aliases

There are several tools on the market to create email aliases.


It’s my responsibility to disclose I am indeed associated with one of them as a marketer, but I won’t make this biased at all.


I’m not here to tell you which solution is the best one. Pick one, and use it. You’ll see long-term benefits, trust me.

Tools to Create Email Aliases (Open-Source)


Both tools are completely open-source and can be self-hosted on your server. They allow you to send emails from your alias as well as receive them, and they let you insert a PGP key to encrypt your content.


The main difference between the two is the pricing model, but they’re both affordable.


I’m personally associated with SimpleLogin, and if you’re curious about how to send an email from your alias, you can watch our tutorial here.


If you don’t need to send emails, Firefox Relay is open-source as well 😊

Tools to Create Email Aliases (Non-Open-Source)


Among all of these, the most popular one is platform-specific (Apple Hide My Email) which only works on Apple devices.


However, BurnerMail, 33Mail, Abine, and Crumbs all allow creating forwarding addresses. In most cases, their solution focuses on fighting spam and doesn’t allow to send emails from the alias or add PGP.


These solutions are not open-source and follow a SaaS model only, which can be a pro or a con based on your personal technical abilities and interest in scanning the code behind the apps you use.

Conclusion

I hope this article was helpful and gave you great insights into how to start decluttering your mailbox, use aliases to mask your real email, and protect yourself against spam and irrelevant content.


If you’re curious about more content on the topic of emails, here are some great articles from other contributors at Hackernoon:


How Email Became the Weakest Link in Cybersecurity - by Brian Wallace

Despite the overload, emails are here to stay - by Gwapit

Introduction to Email Threats & Defense - by John Gruber

A few thoughts on Email - by Freddy