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How to Create an Anonymous Email Account

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This story originally appeared on PCMag

Not long ago, the sharing economy seemed to take over. Privacy was dead, and no one cared. But that was a pre-Snowden era. Now, for some, the need to go truly anonymous is more important than ever.

What do you do if you want to set up an email address that is completely secret and nameless, with no obvious connection to you whatsoever without the the hassle of setting up your own servers?

This goes beyond just encrypting messages. Anyone can do that with web-based email like Gmail by using a browser extension like Secure Mail by Streak. For desktop email clients, GnuPG (Privacy Guard) or EnigMail is a must. Web-based ProtonMail promises end-to-end encryption with zero access to the data by the company behind it, plus it has apps for iOS and Android.

But those don’t hide who sent the message.

Here are the services you should use to create that truly nameless, unidentifiable email address. But be sure to use your powers for good.

First step: Browse anonymously

Your web browser is tracking you. It’s that simple. Cookies, and so-called unstoppable “super cookies” know where you’ve been and what you’ve done and they’re willing to share. Sure, it’s mostly about serving you targeted ads, but that’s not much consolation for those looking to surf in private.

Your browser’s incognito/private mode can only do so much — sites are still going to record your IP address, for example.

If you want to browse the web anonymously (and use that private time to set up an email), you need not only a virtual private network, but also the Tor Browser, a security-laden, Mozilla-based browser from the Tor Project. If you don’t know about Tor, it’s what used to be called The Onion Router; it’s all about keeping you anonymous by making all the traffic you send on the internet jump through so many servers, people on the other end can’t begin to know where you really are. It’ll take longer to load a website than it would with Firefox or Chrome, but that’s the price of vigilance.

The free Tor Browser is available in 16 languages, for Windows, macOS, and Linux. It’s self-contained and portable, meaning it’ll run off a USB flash drive if you don’t want to install it directly. Even Facebook has a Tor-secure address to protect the location of users — and let users get access in places where the social network is illegal or blocked, like China. An estimated 1 million people use it. There is also a version for getting Tor access to Facebook on Android devices.

Tor is not perfect and won’t keep you 1,000 percent anonymous. The criminals behind the Silk Road, among others, tried that and failed. But it’s a lot more secure than openly surfing. It took law enforcement agencies with a lot of resources to get those bad guys.

Second step: Anonymous email

You can set up a relatively anonymous Gmail account, you just have to lie like a bathroom rug. That means creating a full Google account, but not providing Google your real name, location, birthday, or anything else it can use when you sign up (while using a VPN and the Tor Browser, naturally).

You will eventually have to provide Google some other identifying method of contact, such as a third-party email address or a phone number. With a phone, you could use a burner/temp number; use an app like Hushed or Burner or buy a pre-paid cell phone and lie through your teeth when asked for any personal info. (Just know that even the most “secure” burner has its limits when it comes to keeping you truly anonymous.)

As for that third-party email, there are anonymous email services you can use, so why use Gmail at all? The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says it’s smart to use a different email provider from your personal account if you crave anonymity — that way you’re less likely to get complacent and make a compromising mistake.

Note that you also should use an email service that supports secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption. That’s the basic encryption used on a web connection to prevent casual snooping, like when you’re shopping at Amazon. You’ll know it’s encrypted when you see HTTPS in the URL, instead of just HTTP. Or a lock symbol shows up on the address bar or status bar. The big three webmail providers (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Outlook.com) all support HTTPS. Get the HTTPS Everywhere extension for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and on Android, to ensure that websites default to using the protocol.

That’s great for web surfing, but neither HTTPS nor VPN is enough to stay hidden when emailing. You know that.

Pseudonyms in email (like anonguy55@gmail.com) aren’t enough, either. Just one login without using Tor means your real IP address is recorded. That’s enough for you to be found (if the finder can get your provider to give up some records). It’s how General David Petraeus got nailed.

The point is, once you’ve gone this far, there’s no reason to go back. Use a truly anonymous web-based mail service; here are some of the best.


Hushmail

Hushmail 

Recommended by the EFF and others, Hushmail’s entire claim to fame is that it’s easy to use, doesn’t include advertising, and has built-in encryption between members. Of course, to get all that, you have to pay for it, starting at $49.98 per year for 10GB of online storage; a free version offers 25MB of storage. Access it on the web or iOS.

Businesses can use Hushmail starting at $3.99 per user/month for nonprofits (going up to $5.99 for small businesses and $9.99 for legal and healthcare entities), plus a one-time $9.99 setup fee for everyone (though then you need to obfuscate your info for the Whois database).

Note that Hushmail has turned over records to the feds before, and its terms of service state you can’t use it for “illegal activity,” so it’s not going to fight court orders. But at least it’s honest about it up front.

Guerrilla Mail

Guerrilla Mail

Guerrilla Mail provides disposable, temporary email. Technically, the address will exist forever, and never be used again. Any messages received at the address, accessible at guerrillamail.com, only last one hour. You get a totally scrambled email address that’s easily copied to the clipboard. There’s an option to use your own domain name as well, but that’s probably not keeping you under the radar.

Guerrilla Mail is the perfect way to create an email address to sign up for a different, more permanent-yet-anonymous email address, or to send a quick, anonymous email instantly — no signup required. You can even attach a file if it’s less than 150MB in size, or use it to send someone your excess bitcoins. Coupled with the Tor browser, Guerilla Mail makes you practically invisible. It’s also available on Android.

Mailinator

 

Mailinator’s free, disposable email has a slick interface, but you probably don’t even need it. Whenever you’re asked for an email, just make up a name and stick @mailinator.com at the end. Then visit the site, enter the name, and you’ll see if it’s received any messages. No signup though you can sign in with a Google account.

Here’s the problem. If someone else comes up with the same name, then you both get access to the messages received. There are no passwords. There’s also no sending possible. Its FAQ states if you get an email from Mailinator, it’s a guaranteed forgery. This one is for quick service signups only, and only with the most obfuscated, obscure you can come up with. Of course, you can pay $29/month if you want to get a 10MB storage inbox that is private just for you.

Hide-Your-Email.com

Hide-Your-Email.com

You don’t get interfaces as simple as this very often. With no signup required, you enter the email name you want for an @pidmail.com address you can hand out. The messages sent to it immediately show up. It’s that simple, though it’s not for sending messages. You can reserve the address of your choice with a password, again at no cost to you.

Email On Dek

Email On Deck

There’s a two-step process to getting a free email for receiving messages at Email On Deck, but only because step one is a CAPTCHA to make sure you’re a human being, not a web-based robot. It randomly assigns you an obfuscated email address (like “cynthia@l7b2l48k.com”). You can click a button to get assigned another, but they’re all temporary. You don’t want to use this service if you plan to ever use the address assigned beyond, say, an hour or two.

TorGuard Email

TorGuard

TorGuard is another global VPN service, which goes for around $9.95/month to start. The service also provides a separate Anonymous Email, with service from free (10MB offshore storage) all the way up to $49.95/year for unlimited storage. They all have secure G/PGP encryption of mail and no ads. For more, see PCMag’s full review.

TrashMail.com

TrashMail.com isn’t just a site, but also a browser extension for Google Chrome and Firefox, so you don’t even have to visit the site. Create a new email from a number of domain options, and TrashMail.com will forward it to your regular address for the lifespan of the new address, as determined by you. The only limit is how many forwards you can get; to go unlimited, you pay $12.99 a year. The site provides a full address manager interface so create as many addresses as you like to stay anonymous and ubiquitous.

ProtonMail over Tor

ProtonMail

Maybe saving the best for last: ProtonMail is a nice service with servers in Switzerland (a country that appreciates secrecy) that provides fully encrypted messages. Anyone can get an account for free that holds 500MB of data and up to 150 messages per day, or pay 4 euros per month to get the advanced features.

Encryption is one thing, but anonymity comes with the ProtonMail’s specific support for Tor via an onion site it set up at protonirockerxow.onion. It also provides full instructions on how to set up Tor on your desktop or mobile phone. Having anonymous users is so important to ProtonMail, it doesn’t require any personal info when you sign up. It even supports two-factor authentication.

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Steve Jobs Shares the Secrets to Successful Team Leadership in This Throwback Video

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Though Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died six years ago, his outsized influence is certainly still felt. A recently surfaced video interview with the late CEO — which based on his haircut seems to place him in the mid-1980s — shows him sharing his views about best practices for hiring and what makes a great manager.

Up front, he says that the greatest employees are the ones who have the ability to manage themselves. But they can only do that if the leadership at the top is clear about what they want. “What leadership [is] having a vision, being able to articulate that so the people around you can understand it and getting a consensus on a common vision,” Jobs says.

Related: Steve Jobs Systematically Cultivated His Creativity. You Can Too.

Jobs goes on to explain that one of the most important jobs of someone in his position is recruiting new employees. He notes that he isn’t necessarily looking for someone who is an industry veteran, but rather someone who understands where technology is and where it could go in the future. He also recalls a moment when as the company was growing, that he and others executives thought they needed “professional managers,” but that ultimately turned out to not be the case.   

“We went out and hired a bunch of professional management [and] it didn’t work at all. Most of them were bozos,” Jobs says with his characteristic brutal candor. “They knew how to manage, but they didn’t know how to do anything. If you’re a great person, why do you want to work for somebody that you can’t learn anything from?”

Related: What the Creation of Apple’s iPhone Teaches Us About Innovation

Ultimately, he notes that the best team leaders are the ones that aren’t angling for power for power’s sake. “They are the great individual contributors who never, ever want to be a manager,” Jobs says. “But decide they have to be a manager because no one else is going to be able to do as good a job as them.”

Do you agree with Jobs’s assessment? Let us know in the comments and check out the full video below.

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How to Keep Introverted Employees From Quietly Leaving Your Company — in Droves

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) has been around for decades. Employers use it to uncover job candidates’ personality strengths and place them in the right role. MBTI results also help identify natural leaders and great communicators.

Related: Introversion Is Not A Weakness, So Why Are You Treating It Like One?

Yet, there’s little talk about how people’s results impact their satisfaction once they’re in a job. When leaders ignore employees’ happiness, it’s hard to keep productive talent around.

Interestingly, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based publisher of the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator, CCP, Inc., conducted new research that dove into how personality impacts workplace well-being. It looked at five aspects of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments.

After surveying 3,113 participants, the company, in a September report, revealed that introverts have lower well-being in all of these areas. This isn’t all that surprising: An introvert is less likely to speak up about what’s negatively impacting him or her.

It is shocking, however, that employers aren’t being more proactive. If leaders don’t find a way to improve the workplace happiness of introverts, those people will leave and take all their unique skills with them.

Want to avoid that happening to you? Here are some ideas to help connect with the introverts in your office and better understand their wellness-related needs in the workplace:

Be a chameleon.

Many leaders make the mistake of managing everyone the same way and assuming the results will equate across the board. But there’s a huge flaw in that logic: Every person, in fact, perceives and processes guidance differently. Some need more help in certain situations; some need less. So, it’s up to leaders to customize their approach.

Leaders ignoring the needs of their introverts can hurt their overall workplace well-being. The reason: Introverted employees will feel less engaged and have a harder time reaching their goals. This may then lead to feelings of isolation and disappointment, negatively impacting these workers’ mental health.

Related: 6 Truths on Why Introverts Make Great Leaders

When managers recognize introverts’ differences, on the other hand, they can help those employees succeed, and feel more accomplished. For example, as New York-based co-founder of the digital agency Ready Set Rocket, Aaron Harvey, pointed out, introverts have trouble speaking in front of people. “If someone struggles in brainstorming sessions, simply stop by their desk in advance and ask them to be prepared with a few ideas around a specific topic,” Harvey advised in an email. “This can help them feel confident, joining a conversation that organically leads to real-time ideation.”

Consider other situations when introverts might feel that they are out of their element. For instance, consider ways in which shy employees might meet new people.

Talking with new clients, after all, probably makes them nervous. So, reduce their stress by having an extrovert they’re comfortable with tag along. Having a familiar face present will help get them through the situation.

Scrimmage employees’ skill sets.

Extroverts’ strengths are obvious. They’re good communicators, enjoy building relationships and freely share their ideas — all skills that contribute to their well-being. These traits make it easier for them to create a support system at work and to speak up about what skills they have to offer.

Introverts’ skills are more hidden, so leaders don’t always see what they bring to the table. Since introverts are less likely to communicate what responsibilities they’d like to take on, they’re left feeling unfulfilled.

Skills-assessment tools, like the MBTI, are a great solution. They reveal natural strengths and help managers assign introverts more meaningful work.

After realizing your introverts’ skills, give them more opportunities to use them. Assign tasks and projects that allow them to maximize their strengths. Fully and effectively contributing to the team will improve their feelings of meaning and accomplishment.

Arlington, Va.-based Greg Wester, senior vice president of marketing and business development at the mobile content discovery platform Mobile Posse, likes to mix it up with his employees. To help everyone on the team develop his or her skills, Wester told me, the company poses team challenges that mix introverts and extroverts.

“We’ve found that people are super competitive about winning,” he said by email. “The different types of exercises give people a variety of ways to participate, get involved and hopefully boost their well-being.”

Currently, Mobile Posses’ employees are working as teams to create themed videos. Each team has eight cross-functional, cross-personality employees. They’re all challenged to use their individual skills to create a video representing their perspective on a company core value or vision.

This approach to skill-building, Wester said, helps introverts connect with the entire team and gives them more confidence about their value in the organization.

Keep kindred spirits together.

While it’s good to have both types of personalities working together, introverts may become stressed if they’re paired only with extroverts.

For instance, imagine walking into a room where everyone is talking loudly and the words don’t make sense. The situation is overwhelming. This is how introverts feel when they’re surrounded by extroverts. It’s as though no one is speaking their language, and they feel isolated as a result.

What’s more, iIntroverts and extroverts communicate differently. To maintain well-being, introverts need to find like-minded people they can connect with and recharge their energy with.

Rick Gibbs, a performance specialist at the Kingwood, Tex.-based HR services company Insperity, pointed out that following personality assessments, introverts can find people who are like them and make healthy connections. “The process itself can help improve communication, build teams, and expand office friendships,” Gibbs said in an email. “More introverted employees will be able to identify others with similar communications styles.”

Related: How Thinking Like an Introvert Can Help You Get Ahead in Business

So think about conducting personality testing at your workplace. Then, hold a meeting where everyone can discuss his or her results. This will show introverts that they are not alone. They’ll be able to communicate better and deepen their relationships — and with them their personal well-being — at work.

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Hard Work? It's Not All It's Cracked up to Be. It May Even Be Irrelevant. Here's Why.

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From a young age, we’re raised to believe that we can accomplish pretty much anything so long as we work hard enough to achieve it. And, for the most part, that makes sense, at least intuitively. If you study for three hours while your roommate studies for one, you’ll probably do better on the test. If you spend 50 hours at work every week while your peer spends 30, you’ll stand a better chance of getting a raise or a promotion.

This idea follows us at every stage of our lives, and it echoes a cornerstone belief of Western culture: As long as you work hard, you’re going to be successful. But there’s a problem with this philosophy: Hard work isn’t always enough.

The Netflix approach

This idea is hard to accept at first, if you’re a hard worker who invests major time and effort to get what you want in life. Perhaps then, it’s best to introduce the alternative notion, using a corporate example.

Netflix (yes, the company responsible for those late-night television binges) has found success in part because it abolished the idea of hard work being the sole determining factor in an employee’s progression within the company.

Netflix formally introduced this idea in a 2009 slide deck explaining the company’s culture, but the idea dates back to 2001. Since her departure from Netflix, the company’s former chief talent officer, Patty McCord, has been on podcasts and spoken in interviews about the rather different work ethic Neflix evolved.

After experiencing financial trouble in 2001, the company made a bold move to lay off a third of its employees — not based on how long they’d worked there or how hard they’d worked, but solely on what they contribute, and how they impact the company’s bottom line. This infuriated some long-time, hard-working employees, but those who remained ended up getting more done because they didn’t have to correct others’ mistakes, or work around unnecessary teammates.

Even after that initial layoff, Netflix paid almost no attention to employees’ hard work. It allowed unlimited vacation time and flexible hours, focusing on results and innovation instead of the number of hours worked or the effort spent. This system resulted in the letting go of many employees who’d worked hard and performed well. But it also resulted in the better performance of the company (and, in many ways, in less stress for the remaining employees).

The problems with hard work

The Netflix example may seem harsh, especially if you’ve based your career around working hard. What if you too were fired after a decade of putting in long hours and genuinely trying your best?

Still, there are three main problems with hard work that an alternative culture or approach could correct:

“Hard work” doesn’t equal “results.” First off, hard work doesn’t necessarily correlate with results. For example, it doesn’t matter if you put 100 hours in to the design of your landing page; if your site doesn’t convert,you may as well have spent one hour.

Hard work isn’t efficient work. Next, consider that hard work isn’t necessarily efficient work. If it takes the person next to you three hours to complete a task that you could have completed in an hour, that extra hard work may have actually cost the company unnecessary time and money.

Hard work doesn’t encourage innovation. Finally, focusing on hard work doesn’t encourage innovation or novelty. Instead, it encourages repetition and persistence. Those factors can be good, but you also need some drive to try new tactics, incorporate new ideas and learn new things in your life.

What to focus on Instead

None of this is meant to imply that hard work isn’t valuable — only that your hard work should be reserved for when it counts the most. So, as an individual (whether you’re a professional or an entrepreneur), what should you be focusing on instead?

Efficiency. Focus on your efficiency. Instead of spending more hours, emphasize doing more with the hours you already have. For example, you could automate certain processes, delegate work beneath your paygrade or find new strategies to accomplish more within a set time frame. You can also work on eliminating redundancies in your workflow, or on abandoning tasks, meetings, and projects that eat up your time unnecessarily.

Results. Focus on results, prioritizing the work that seems to yield the highest return on your time investment. What’s really going to help you succeed? Reduce or eliminate anything that doesn’t fall in line with that vision, and don’t be afraid to make cuts.

Improvement. Focus on improving yourself and your surroundings. Instead of working hard on level one, spend some effort trying to get to level two. Invest in yourself, learning new skills and gaining new experiences, and invest in your environment by training your employees and making sure you have the best tools available for the job.

Hard work is incredibly valuable, but we shouldn’t keep thinking of it as the most important factor for success. Instead, we should see it as one of many factors that can help us, but won’t, in itself, necessarily save our businesses.

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