Security Market Segment LS
Wednesday, 21 July 2021 23:37

Email privacy with DuckDuckGo Featured

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Pass out your new DuckDuckGo email address and the service will strip out all the trackers from incoming email before forwarding to your actual address.

Announced just yesterday, DuckDuckGo is expanding from their well-known base of totally anonymous search to offer anonymous email.

Here's how it works. Users will provide their newly minted @duckduckgo.com email address to any location that they suspect might want to send emails with embedded trackers (that's probably every commercial organisation!). The server will receive the email, strip out all the 'nastiness' and then forward the email to the user's actual address. At no time does the service know your real address. Further, if the garbage load gets too high, any user can delete their @duckduckgo address and (potentially) start again.

Currently in beta, users of the existing DuckDuckGo app are invited to join the program.

In the app, simply select the 'three dots' then settings and near the bottom, 'Email protection' is marked with a yellow 'beta' flag. Select this and you'll be added to the wait list. We have done this while writing this report and await our access with interest.

According to the announcement, "Reading your email should be a private activity. You may be surprised to learn that 70% of emails contain trackers that can detect when you've opened a message, where you were when you opened it, and what device you were using. If that isn't creepy enough, this email data can be used to profile you, including to target you with ads, and influence the content you see online."

Elsewhere, the organisation notes that "We believe the content of your emails is none of our business, so DuckDuckGo will never save your emails for this service. We don't need to! When we receive an email, we immediately remove trackers from it and then forward it to you, never saving it on our systems. We don't even save the headers (e.g., to/from)."

Further, one registered, users are able to generate additional private addresses as required. This may be useful to track unauthorised propagation of an address. Maybe we sign up for newsletters from 'bad-dudes.com' but we have no idea who they pass our address on to. We might create a basic address of me@duckduckgo.com and then localise to me-bad-dudes@dusckduckcom to easily track how we have been propagated.

Once we are accepted into the program, we will revisit this interesting service. Note that hints on the various DuckDuckGo web pages suggest that this will be a paid service.  More to come.


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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