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Using E-Mail Aliases Properly

angry_eggplant@nosuchmail.com
angry_eggplant@nosuchmail.com

Have you every thought about the art-form that is picking an e-mail name? You have to choose one that no one else is using, it has to be creative or descriptive of you in some way, and not include too many numbers (angry_eggplant is creative, but angry_eggplant375253 is lame and hard to type too).

But there's more to it than that. If you're using an account for business, you'll probably want your business name or personal name. If you're using the account to sign up for religious, political, or hobby sites that you don't necessarily want people to associate with you for privacy reasons, using your real information is not a good idea.

Many e-mail services also let you choose a display name that is different from your e-mail address (which is how spammers can show up in your e-mail box as "Joe" when their actual address is eoi26@aoidjwd.net).

Whether it's your e-mail itself or just the display name, follow The Geek Privacy Principle: Never give up important data without a reason.

How to choose a good business e-mail name

First, decide how you want to use the e-mail account. Generally, only in cases where you are specifically using an account for a business of some sort would I say it's ok to use your real name. Even then, why list your full name when your first name and last initial (or the reverse) will do? Here are some examples:

Be careful that your e-mail name added with your display name don't give away everything such as in this case: Jeremy D (jduffy@nomail.com).

You can also get creative with your e-mail (which you usually have to do since there's probably a lot of people with your name that already have e-mail accounts). Maybe something like this would work:

I know plenty of people who look perfectly professional with public e-mail accounts by using their business name as their alias and using the display name to make who they actually are more obvious.

And in the final case where you have your own domain name, it's pretty easy to create a good e-mail name, but don't over-do it:

Good

Not Good

How to Choose a Good Personal Username

Real name and BIRTHPLACE!?
Real name and BIRTHPLACE!?

The first rule is to not use your real name or any other important information. At the MOST you can put your first name as your "display name" so people have an idea of who you actually are, but unless it's necessary, it's better not to.

The second thing is to think twice about what IS important information in the first place. Do you really care if everyone knows that you love dolphins? Probably not, but if you are trying to be anonymous, even that amount of information could be used to help uncover your true identity.

Also, if your e-mail name broadcasts the things you like, that can be used by someone to social-engineer you. Now, it might be paranoid to avoid something so innocent for a fairly low risk of being conned, BUT if someone were to contact you talking about how much they loved dolphins, remember that a con artist will start out by trying to build rapport and a good way to do that is to love what you love.

E-mail Dangers

Until we find out who the people are who actually buy things from spammers and kick them off the Internet, you're going to have to learn how to deal with and prevent spam.
E-mail Viruses - Learn how viruses are spread through e-mail and how to stop them
Phishing - Spot and avoid lures that pull you into the dark side of the web
Don't be one of those people that loses thousands of dollars to the classic Nigerian Scam.

E-mail Etiquette

Use CC only when necessary and BCC the rest of the time.
Use Reply-All when you mean to and never when you don't.
Practice proper E-mail Forwarding to protect privacy and make e-mails more readable.
Always personalize your e-mails to make it obvious to your recipient that it's valid.

E-mail Tips and Tricks

Using E-Mail Aliases Properly - Be careful about using sensitive data (like your real name) in an e-mail account.
Remember to treat your e-mail account with the security it deserves.
Use a decoy e-mail account to keep your main e-mail account free of spam.
Avoid using any Internet provider's default e-mail.

1 Comment to “Using E-Mail Aliases Properly”

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Keith or Maybe Not Keith? says:

Jeremy Duffy, the geek professor, I’d like to inform you of a couple more issues that I find myself dealing with right now. ransomware and sextortion. The latest waves taking place with e-mail spam, is an e-mail that claims to take control over your PC or connected device and you must pay him a lot of money to avoid your naughty pictures and videos from being sent to everyone on your contact list. I’ve had enough of this spam and now these threats. That I am in route to make a good second alias (which will become my primary) and ultimately deactivate my current email address. But I have a lot of updating to do with my linked accounts, because I need to update the e-mail addresses to each of those before I just decide to deactivate my current email address.

IDENTITY THEFT
How to Steal Identities - Why It's So Easy
Credit Freeze
Data Defense
Credit Monitoring
Id Theft Insurance
The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery
PRIVACY
The Geek Privacy Principle
Nothing to Hide
Data Abuse
RFID - Radio Frequency IDentification
Privacy Alias/Persona
Data Defense
INTERNET SAFETY
Online Addiction
The Consequences of Posting Online
Photo Safety
Tricks and Scams
Account Hijacking
Trusting Companies
PASSWORDS
Bad Passwords
Password Tips and Tricks
Password Protection
Password Mugging
Computer Security
E-mail Safety
Kids and Computers
Shopping Online
Retailers
All About Warranties

Preventing Spam

Spam is annoying and worthless, but you still see it every single day. Here are some tips for preventing and reducing spam.

[Click for full description]

The Geek Privacy Principle

The most basic principle of privacy is to be able to choose who knows what about you and when. The Geek Principle describes why you should choose by default not to share information.

[Click for full description]

Phishing

By far the most dangerous thing you'll find in e-mails is a lie. Sending a bogus e-mail to someone is generally called phishing, but can also be referred to as a Nigerian scam (depending on the goal of the e-mail). Learn to recognize and deal with phishing before it's too late.

[Click for full description]

Preventing Spam

Spam is annoying and worthless, but you still see it every single day. Here are some tips for preventing and reducing spam.

[Click for full description]

E-mail Viruses

Make sure that viruses don't sneak onto your computer through your e-mails. Read some simple tips to prevent that from happening.

[Click for full description]

Phishing

By far the most dangerous thing you'll find in e-mails is a lie. Sending a bogus e-mail to someone is generally called phishing, but can also be referred to as a Nigerian scam (depending on the goal of the e-mail). Learn to recognize and deal with phishing before it's too late.

[Click for full description]

Nigerian Scam

Many people have lost thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the classic Nigerian Scam. Don't fall for it!

[Click for full description]

How to Use "CC" Properly

Don't violate people's privacy and invite spam into their accounts by CC'ing all your contacts. Learn the proper way to send mass e-mails first.

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Reply-All

It's easy to embarass yourself or harm your career when you don't know how to use Reply-All appropriately.

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How to Forward E-mails Properly

Don't forward e-mails carelessly or you risk looking foolish as best and violating the privacy of all your contacts at worst.

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Personalize E-mail

Follow this simple rule of e-mail etiquette to help prevent your friends and family from falling for phishing scams.

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Using E-Mail Aliases Properly

It can be hard to find a good name to use in an e-mail account that hasn't been used and doesn't give away too much information about you.

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Protecting E-mail Passwords

Your e-mail account is the most important online account you have. Remember to treat it as such!.

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Using a Decoy E-Mail Account

Why it's very important to use a buffer e-mail account to shield your main account from people and companies that you don't trust.

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The ISP E-mail Trap

Don't fall for the trap of using the free e-mail account provided to you by your Internet service!

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