AINOM Disposable Email Address Manager
To quote the Wikipedia Page:
Disposable e-mail addressing (DEA) refers to an alternative way of sharing and managing e-mail addressing. DEA aims to set up a new, unique e-mail address for every contact or entity, making a point-to-point connection between the sender and the recipient. Subsequently, if anyone compromises the address or utilises it in connection with any e-mail abuse, the address-owner can easily cancel (or "dispose" of) it without affecting any other contact.
Most websites seem to require registration with an email address, but giving your email address to a large number of companies significantly increases the risk of excessive amounts of SPAM making its way into your inbox. A lot of companies have privacy policies that state that they will never sell or give your email address to others, but this doesn't necessarily prevent them from sending unwanted advertising emails themselves. More importantly, it doesn't protect you if their server is hacked and your email address is obtained by some undesirables through this means.
With AINOM, you can give each company you deal with a different email address. If you start getting a lot of SPAM, you will immediately be able to see which email address it was sent to and which company gave or sold it to the spammers (or was hacked by the spammers). Since I've started using disposable email addresses, I've had two instances of companies having their servers hacked without their knowledge: I was able to tell them it had happened as I was getting SPAM through an address that only they knew (although in both cases they took a bit of persuading to investigate it!). I was then able to delete the offending email addresses and the SPAM problem disappeared.
Of course, if you already get a lot of SPAM sent to your email address, this won't help much: your real address is already out there. What I'd recommend is creating a new email address (get a domain: they're really cheap) and only telling friends/family the address. Then use AINOM to create addresses to tell to any companies that want you to provide one.
Comparison to Other DEA Options
I really like sneakemail.com - it's a fantastic service and I've been using it for many years. However, it has a few limitations that I've tried to work around in AINOM:
- It uses a domain name (well, two actually: sneakemail.com and snkmail.com) that are obviously linked to a DEA provider, so some websites simply won't let you register using a sneakemail address.
- It uses a random string of characters, which is fine generally, but sometimes you want an address that you can write down on a piece of paper without ambiguity (no 0/o or 1/l/i problems).
- You need to be able to get to the website whenever you want to create an address (again, awkward if you're putting an address on a piece of paper). This can be overcome through the use of an auto-key, but because sneakemail is a well-known site, this could easily be open to abuse by spammers.
- It isn't free.
AINOM gets around these problems by:
- Using your own domain name, so it's unlikely to be blacklisted.
- Generated addresses do not use any of the characters '0o1li5s' (if configured to do so).(see also 3).
- You can create an address manually, before or after emails have been sent to it. Any emails sent to an unrecognised address are held in a holding area. You can then either delete them or give the address a name and have it forwarded on. That way, if you're in the pub and they've got a prize draw that you can enter by giving them your email address, you can make something up on the fly and then register your made-up address as having been given to that pub when you get home. To the best of my knowledge, no other disposable email address manager supports this for permanent addresses.
- The format of the user prefix is completely customisable (it doesn't have to end with a hyphen followed by the key like the sneakemail auto-key). This is therefore harder for spammers to abuse, even if they do figure out that your custom domain is a DEA service.
- AINOM is free (as long as you already have your own domain name).
Similarities between sneakemail.com and AINOM:
- Both create email addresses that are permanent unless deleted manually (most of the time, I want to communicate with companies and only want to delete addresses when the companies abuse that contact).
- Both 'mangle' the from/reply-to address details so that you can use your normal email address software/website to reply and the company will never see your real address (this also includes the attribution line inside the body of the message).
If you want to set up a service like this easily and don't mind paying a small fee for it, I'd would wholeheartedly recommend sneakemail.com: it's easy to use and very effective at keeping spammers at bay. AINOM is intended to give a bit more flexibility for those that need it.
This site works in a similar way to quite a few others and assumes that you don't want to be in contact with the companies. Email addresses expire after a few uses (up to 20). Therefore, this is a bit different to AINOM or sneakemail.com and trying to solve a different problem. I don't want to have to re-register with an on-line shop every time I buy something, so I need a permanent email address, so spamgourmet.com doesn't help me here. I do, however, want to protect my email address, so sneakemail.com and AINOM will both do the job nicely.
- Python - AINOM is written for versions 2.7 or above or versions 3.1 or above. May also work with 2.6, but hasn't really been tested.
- PyCrypto - Tested with 2.3 and 2.4; 2.4 is the first version to work with python 3.1.
- A domain name of your own (.co.uk/.me.uk/.org.uk domains are only £2-3 per year).
- An IMAP-accessible 'catch-all' account that will receive the email for any unrecognised address at your domain (Google Apps For Your Domain will give you this for free).
- An SMTP server that will allow you to send mail from your domain name (Google Apps For Your Domain will give you this for free).
- An email account that you don't want to tell any companies about!
- A computer with the software listed above on which you will run AINOM - this doesn't need to be publicly accessible.
You don't really need to install anything: just extract the AINOM distribution archive somewhere where you'll be able to find it later.
The first time you run AINOM, it will ask you lots of questions. Hopefully these are self-explanatory and (where possible) have sensible defaults). You can reconfigure it by running:
python ainom.py --configure
Hopefully, I'll implement a web interface to AINOM sometime soon, but at the moment, you're stuck with the command-line interface.
Processing incoming emails
Run python ainom.py (or, if your operating system is set up correctly and supports it, double-click on ainom.py, although you probably won't see any error messages this way).
Creating a new email address
This is the most common operation that you'll do. At the moment, the only way to do it is:
python ainom.py --add-address-interactive
and then follow the on-screen instructions.
Deleting an email address
At the moment, the only way to do this is:
python ainom.py --deactivate-address-interactive
and then follow the on-screen instructions.
This is very new software, which was written over the course of a few days. It needs a lot more testing before it's really ready. If it deletes all of your email and fills your inbox with millions of copies of the same email, oops, sorry, but that's the risk you take.
AINOM is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/.