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Do E-Mail proxy services exists to improve privacy and security?

Privacy in the sense that one wouldn't need to give a website his/her username (possibly even in the firstname.lastname@domain.tld form) and in a security sense that the used e-mail couldn't be used to log into the e-mail service (thereby making it useless for a leaked password, because the e-mail address couldn't be used to login).

Example:

john.doe@gmail.com could be someone's e-mail. If there were a Google Privacy/Proxy service then one could generate as many random e-mails as possible and if one would be sent spam to, or leaked, it could be disabled:

  • abcdef@gmail.proxy
  • 290dcef@gmail.proxy

could both redirect mail to john.doe@gmail.com.

One could be blocked/disabled/removed if wanted without abandoning the real account (e.g. because 290dcef@gmail.proxy has been compromised or spam is being sent to it).

Would it really improve security and privacy? Or am I missing something?

And does such a service exist? (as a bonus, replying from such proxy e-mails would be even better, converting the real account from field to the proxy mail address)

  • I know services could theoretically block .proxy tld's (or other privacy implementations) but the question isn't about that and please refrain from addressing that, unless it would answer or improve the answer(s) to the questions. A lot of services already block the +alias for gmail addresses, that's known. – Gizmo Jan 12 at 22:34
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    There are many disposable email services which can be used for such purpose, some of these can also forward incoming mails to your real account. There is also a similar service from Apple. And yes, these would improve privacy if you can trust the provider of such service. – Steffen Ullrich Jan 12 at 22:48
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In GMail, you can use disposable emails of your own by just adding "+" and any string following it.

Eg:

  • john.doe+newsletters@gmail.com
  • john.doe+forums@gmail.com
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  • it would be the most trivial of queries to handle someone trying to "hide" behind this GMail feature. I wouldn't consider this to be an answer to the question, although it is a useful feature to be aware of. – skrap3e Jan 13 at 4:33
  • Some websites don't allow the + in an email address. But, you can put the '.' wherever you like and make rules based on that. j.ohndoe@gmail.com and jo.hndoe@gmail.com will both go to johndoe@gmail.com. – Bakon Jarser Feb 12 at 22:22
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I commonly use that when I have to signup to a server and I do not want to be later spammed bothered by advertisements:

  • I create a new pseudo-random address on my ISP
  • I declare that new address on my mail reader
  • I use it to sign into the server

When I no longer need to use the service, or if I find that it does not worth an email address, I just removes the account from my mail reader (to ignore any spam) and destroys the mail address (to be able to create a new one later).

For many years, my ISP has offered up to 5 or 10 mail addresses. And other services (including gmail) allow free new address creation - provided you give them an existing address. Combining both, you can create a potentially infinite number of mail addresses.

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What you are describing is an email alias. Corporate email administrators use aliasing on a regular basis. The account name used to authenticate is often completely different from the world broadcast email address. In many cases you can request a change to the mail address, which adds an alias and updates the default "outbound" mail from address for the account. Gmail Suite includes this functionality.

Yes, the decoupling of login credential from the email address could be considered a layer of security. Though, I suspect in most cases the alias functionality is more utilized as a convenience for name changes (before the @) and decoupling the authentication credential database from the email account database. In less frequent uses, it is also used for mergers and divestitures, where the domain name is changed (after the @). Depending on the use case, both emails can remain valid/active for at least a transition period, if not permanently.

Anonymizing an email can be a layer of security as well. Many companies use randomly generated mail names (AT&T is one example). This reduces mail account fishing (sending emails to guesses at emails based on patterns), at the expense of customer visibility. Sometimes you want your customers to be able to find you.

Using temporary emails to prevent bother from websites you sign up for is likely an exercise regardless of how much / or little you change the email. In all cases, you must create the address/alias and/or rule when you need it, and remove the address/alias/rule to block the spam. You will always be fighting against the service, which wants to ensure you are providing a "real" email address. Any service that automates anonymization of mail addresses is going to be quickly blocked as an abuse or potential abuse.

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  • I specifically avoided the word 'alias' because of the decoupling part, to some extent it's true, what I would be looking for is a service that allows infinite aliases (receive and send from). I thought proxy would be a better description because of the decoupling part. – Gizmo Feb 12 at 22:46
  • Using the term proxy is confusing. A mail proxy is a very different concept, where a server, usually in a DMZ, is the publicly facing interface for a mail service running on a separate server inside a protected private network. Proxy is most usually used in reference to an entire service protocol (SMTP in this case), not a particular object (email account) within that service. – Yaro Feb 15 at 17:03

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