Privacy is a huge issue in today’s connected world. There are quite literally thousands of different websites and services that require you to sign up/sign in/log on with your personal email address before they’ll give you anything. Some even demand your cell number, and of course using your credit card online is becoming ever more common an occurrence. Unfortunately, so are hacks or even gross mismanagement and incompetence that result in the exposure of such information to the internet at large, and a subsequent increase in your chance of being targeted by spammers, telemarketers and criminals.
As a result, there is a huge need for ways to enter the information necessary to work, play and buy online that both satisfies the service provider and keeps it safe at the same time. A lot of hard work has been done by banks and e-tailers to make it so, and many popular sites and services claim to take privacy very seriously, but the honest truth is that sometimes even that’s not enough.
A company called Abine has created a solution that satisfies all of these criteria. It’s called MaskMe and it’s a plugin for Firefox and Chrome that acts as a middle-man between you and the internet. It offers email masking and password storage for free, and phone and credit card number masking for a subscription fee. Firefox users can get it here; Chrome users can download it from the Chrome Web Store here. According to Abine’s website, Internet Explorer and Safari versions of MaskMe are planned, but not yet available.
For the purposes of this article, we checked out MaskMe’s free email masking service for Chrome. Once it was installed (a quick and easy process), MaskMe subtly appeared when we signed up to a new service we’d been eyeing and asked if we’d like to mask our email address, and even offered to generate a super-secure password on our behalf. Because the masked email address and password that were generated are stored on MaskMe’s servers, every time we logged in to that new service using Chrome or Firefox, the username and password fields were automatically populated.
The entire process was quick and easy, and surprisingly simple. We imagine the process is similar for MaskMe’s credit card and cellphone number masking services.
Once you’ve used MaskMe for a bit and collected a bunch of logins for various sites, you can manage them all from the MaskMe website. You can choose whether to forward the emails you will receive from those sites to your primary email address, or to block them completely, thereby ensuring you’ll receive no spam from them whatsoever.
While MaskMe won’t work on your existing logins, it’s perfect for signing up for the fun but somewhat dodgy-looking sweepstakes, sales and special offers you see online without giving anyone your real email address.
If this sounds interesting, and you’d like to know more, head over to Abine’s website for an even more detailed breakdown of what MaskMe is, and how it works.