Spam and Phishing News Roundup - EarthLink Gives its Users a Secret Identity
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If you’re like me and many other people I know who are active online, you have several email addresses which you use for different purposes. One might be in effect a spam trap, another might be for use only with firms that provide highly secure transactions (such as your bank), a third might be given to various online vendors (or even one-on-one sellers like those through eBay), a fourth might be for certain services or online communities you belong to, a fifth might be work-related…you get the idea. Well, so does EarthLink, and the ISP has come up with a way to make being online with multiple email addresses a little less confusing.
It’s called EarthLink’s ProtectionPack with Anonymous Email. EarthLink subscribers activate it by visiting http://www.protectionpack.net/ and entering their email address and password. They receive five anonymous email addresses (which do not end in @earthlink.net) which are linked to their account. A new folder is then created in their EarthLink Web Mail account that contains separate subfolders for each of their anonymous email addresses.
Users can do all of the same things with their anonymous addresses that they do with their normal email address, including send and receive email from them. They can also delete any anonymous email address, at which point they will no longer receive email for that address. Best of all, they don’t have to remember multiple logins or passwords, because their normal EarthLink information gets them into all of the accounts.
I can envision a number of uses for this new service that go beyond spam avoidance. The flash demo suggested using it to ask a question of an eBay vendor, but there are plenty of others. One of my friends used to work for a company where he was required to check up on the firm’s competition by posing as a potential customer. Naturally, he couldn’t use his business email address, because that would give the game away. He used his “home” email address instead. Well, he left the company months ago, but he’s still getting sales-related email from the firms he investigated. Had this service been available at that time, he could have just used one of his anonymous email addresses and then deleted it when he left the company.
The service is apparently free, and it looks like it’s only available to EarthLink users. I wonder if EarthLink has considered selling this service to non-EarthLink subscribers though. True, you wouldn’t have the direct interface through your main email address that EarthLink subscribers enjoy, but needing only one login and password to handle five different email addresses – and going to all five of these at one online location – is pretty handy. I could see someone who is very active online (but doesn’t own his or her own domain names and doesn’t care to) spending $10 a year for the convenience.
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