Andrew Henderson

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Freedom

Is my email safe? Why free email doesn’t offer privacy

This article is from Nomad Capitalist contributor Paul Rosenberg.

Those of us who are rash enough to mention Internet security in public know what comes next: People prepare to feel stupid. And once that happens, it’s all but guaranteed that they won’t understand what follows.

So, let me begin with a promise: I won’t do anything to make you feel stupid. Really. I won’t.

Now, let’s get to the issue of your email privacy.

Huge portions of our lives are conducted via electronic mail, and all of us have worried about that at times. We’re so deeply into the habit that we can’t really stop, but every now and then we realize how totally screwed we might be if the wrong people read our last email.

So, let me give you two plain, simple facts about email:

No. 1: Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and free services like them will ALWAYS steal your emails. And yes, I mean ALWAYS, as in “every single email you ever send,” and even the drafts of your emails.

No. 2: You can protect your emails if you want to. It’s neither expensive nor difficult, though it will be harder than Yahoo and you will have to pay.

Those are the facts of life. You can either accept them or you can pretend that they don’t exist. You’ll have to pick one or the other.

If you’d like a bit of proof for No. 1, just remember this:

Free stuff is NEVER free. These companies have bills to pay, and you don’t pay bills by giving away free products. Google’s expenses are in the billions of dollars per month; they don’t pay for them with little ads for ski pants. They’re selling you.

If you want to know more, I’ll give it to you. But if you don’t, you’re on your own and I won’t bother you any further. God bless and good luck.

What do they do with all my emails?

They sell them, of course. They’re in business to make money, and the “free!” model doesn’t give them any choice. They’ve got to get money out of you somehow. So, they sell your life in every way they can.

In some cases, they sell your information to retailers.

In some cases, they sell your info to competitors, who are trying to gather information on your business and/or business sector.

In some cases, they sell it to governments.

In nearly all cases, that information will be cross-linked to other information. Then that information will be resold, reprocessed and reused.

I could go on, but you get the point.

The big email services will go on at length about “we’ll never release your name,” but that really isn’t much of an issue once you start cross-linking data.

And I should add another use: as I explained in a recent article, the IRS is getting data from the NSA (the biggest data thieves in human history), and using it to squeeze more money out of people.

So, that’s what’s happening to your emails. (It’s actually worse than that, but I don’t want to complicate this.)

How can I protect my emails?

If you don’t want your emails stolen, you’ll have to stop using Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and AOL.

Sorry, but that’s the reality. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. If free stuff is paramount to you, you’re stuck and there is no way out. Good luck.

There are several ways to protect your email, but some pretty hard, so I’m bypassing them.

There are easy ways to do it, but, you’ll have to pay for them. The prices are not high, but they are mandatory; real professionals don’t work for free. Here are two of them:

Sciphered is a true secure webmail system.

Cryptohippie is includes two kinds of secure email. (As well as protecting your surfing, etc.)

It’s not hard, unless you plan on it being hard. You can set up either of these services in ten or fifteen minutes. (And that’s being conservative.) Just relax and go step by step.

I promised you simple and I think I’ve delivered it. What happens next is your choice.

If you’d like to get a free trial of Cryptohippie, my privacy service, click here.

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