DuckDuckGo Email Protection

DuckDuckGo has released email protection for everyone. The email protection plan was introduced last year in a private beta service offering. Now, DuckDuckGo has decided to offer the email protection plans to everyone without any costs. Not much is known about how DuckDuckGo offers email protection. We look at the significant points of the DuckDuckGo email protection.

What is the email protection plan offered by DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo email protection plan tries to shield your real email address with an alias email address. The alias email address resides on the duck.com email domain. It tries to protect your email account from all kinds of tracking. Marketing agencies add a lot of tracking attributes to emails. Some of these would try to find your system details, your geographical and demographic details.

When you enroll for DuckDuckGo email protection, your emails are cleaned by the DuckDuckGo email systems. All tracking information or malicious payloads are removed from the email. The cleaned email is then delivered to your actual email address.

So, DuckDuckGo email protection affords an opportunity to protect your actual email address and mailbox from unwanted malicious emails and tracking emails.

How do I use the DuckDuckGo email protection?

You can enroll for the DuckDuckGo email protection through their website on this page. You will need to follow the instructions upon visiting this page. Here are a few things you need to be aware of.

  • Before you can use email protection from DuckDuckGo, you will need to add the DuckDuckGo browser extension to your browser. If you make use of the Chrome browser, you will need to add the Chrome Extension to your Chrome Browser. The screen capture below shows the page and the default message about installing the Chrome extension. The name of the browser extension is ‘DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.
  • If you use the Microsoft Edge browser, you will need to add the DuckDuckGo browser extension for Edge browser. Once the browser extension has been added, you can proceed with the email protection process.
  • Create a Duck email address – After adding the browser extension on Chrome or Edge, you will need to visit the email protection page once again. This is done to continue with the process of setting up email protection through DuckDuckGo. You will need to click on ‘Get Started’ to initiate the process of setting up a DuckDuckGo alias email address for the real mailbox address.
  • When you click on ‘Get Started’ you will be presented with a couple of new screens. Choose ‘Next’ to reach the screen on which you can setup the alias email address.
Click Next on this screen
Click Next on this screen

You should get to the email alias setup screen when you click ‘Next’.

On this screen, you will need to specify an email alias address. The email alias will need to be setup on the duck.com email domain. It needs to be unique. This email alias will be mapped to your actual email address.

In the step above, I am trying to setup an alias [email protected] to the actual email address [email protected]

The email alias will protect my actual email address by frontending it. So, all emails sent to my alias email address will be delivered to the actual email address. Before delivering the incoming email to the actual target email address, all malicious elements or tracking codes will be stripped off your incoming emails.

How does DuckDuckGo Email Protection work?

DuckDuckGo email protection is designed to augment email privacy. Here is how it works to protect your mailbox from incoming spam, malicious emails and marketing emails:

  • DuckDuckGo email protection helps in setting up an email alias on duck.com domain.
  • The email alias to mapped or configured to connect with the actual or real email address.
  • The email alias created on the duck.com domain name will become a gateway to the actual mailbox address.
  • All incoming emails into the alias address will be cleaned and delivered to the actual email address. In my case, all incoming emails to [email protected] will be cleaned before being delivered to [email protected]

The idea or intent is to use the duck.com email alias address while signing up on different websites on the Internet. When such sites send email to the duck.com based email alias address, your emails will be cleaned before being delivered to the real email address.

Do I need to change MX records for availing DuckDuckGo email protection?

No, you do not need to change MX records to avail the DuckDuckGo email protection. DuckDuckGo does not collect your mailbox’s email. It actually helps in creating a new email alias address. The email alias sits in front of the real mailbox. It collects and reads all the incoming mails sent to the alias address. Then, it would clean the emails to remove tracking data and malicious payloads. After the cleanup is complete, the mail is delivered to the real mailbox.

At no point, DuckDuckGo email systems participate in the email networks setup to receive emails directly into the real mailbox.

How do I use DuckDuckGo email protection?

Here is how you can use the DuckDuckGo email protection:

  • You will pick a real email address that needs to be protected from incoming mail spam, malicious activity and tracking data.
  • You will create a duck.com email address and map it to the real email address chosen above.
  • You will need to share your duck.com email address on third-party websites on the Internet.
  • When these sites send you an email on the duck.com email address, the incoming mails are scanned and cleaned by the DuckDuckGo email protection engine.
  • The cleaned emails are sent to the real mailbox.

The most important thing to note is that the email protection through DuckDuckGo will work only if you use your duck.com email address on the marketing websites and other third party websites on the Internet. The email alias on duck.com can work well when you are signing up for special offers or enrolling for special activities on the Internet.

DuckDuckGo email protection will not work if:

  • someone sends you an email on the real email address directly.

What are the drawbacks of using DuckDuckGo Email Protection?

We can see a couple of very significant drawbacks of using the DuckDuckGo email protection plan.

  • You need to add the ‘DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials’ browser extension on the computer. Most business computers may not allow addition of a browser extension. So, DuckDuckGo email protection may not find many takers in the business organizations.
  • There are concerns about DuckDuckGo having access to incoming email data. It remains unclear if DuckDuckGo can read all incoming email data, including the tracking data. For people and businesses with enhanced privacy requirements, DuckDuckGo email protection may turn out to be a non-starter.
  • The default search engine on your computer will change to duckduckgo.com. You can restore it to Chrome or Edge. But, this is making the change more obtrusive than we could have thought it would be.

Summary

The DuckDuckGo email protection plan is now available to private people. It will help to setup an email alias that can be connected to a real mailbox. All incoming emails to the alias and cleaned and delivered to the real mailbox. DuckDuckGo email protection may help in reducing marketing content and tracking codes in mails from reaching your mailbox. But, business organizations may not enroll in the email protection through DuckDuckGo because of privacy and data integrity concerns.

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