Create Secret Accounts

You can't always secure your online accounts. Whether your Facebook is shared or you can't risk your partner losing access to your email, you may need alternatives to the usual cybersecurity strategies. Creating secret online accounts, unknown to your partner, gives you a safe space to collect data, research resources, and freely engage with your support networks. Secrecy is not a bad thing—it's natural and normal to want your own digital space. Everyone deserves the freedom to extend their thoughts and conversations at their own discretion. It's possible that your partner could become upset if they discovered this private activity, but this is absolutely not your fault. There is no way to guarantee total secrecy when using the internet, so evaluate for yourself whether you feel safe enough to take these actions.

There are so many different kinds of online accounts that we can't discuss them all here. Instead, we'll focus on the private information generally used for online registration: email and phone numbers. Whenever you are creating or accessing a secret account, and there is a chance that your partner would monitor your web activity, use a private browsing window for the duration of your browsing session. This is explored in greater detail in our Private Web Browsing defense strategy. Additionally, it's imperative that you do not re-use a password from an existing account for your secret account—you don't want your partner being able to log-in if they discovered it. Our Secure Your Passwords guide explains how to create strong, unique passwords that will protect your secret account from being hacked. Lastly, always be aware of the email address you use to register. Your secrecy would be very quickly compromised if your regular email address revealed your secret account.

Email

Creating a secret email account is the keystone of secret accounts. With this email account you can easily register for any website or app that you need, without leaving any trace in your day-to-day "normal" email activity. Unfortunately, popular email services like Gmail or Yahoo often require a phone number to register. Such a link between your cell phone and your email could unexpectedly reveal your identity, possibly from an unexpected text or record on your phone bill. For this reason, we recommend the free email provider ProtonMail, a Switzerland-based service that prioritizes user privacy. They do not require a phone number, nor do they have any corporate access to your data (so no spammy advertisements). With an email at ProtonMail, you can be assured that your email account is yours and yours alone.

You don't always need a full-fledged email account for registering online. When you just need to quickly make an account, and don't plan on having to reset a password via email or expect meaningful messages, you can use a disposable email address. This is a randomly generated email address that's intended to be forgotten when you're done using it. Just go to Mailinator and type in an email name and you're all set. Just remember that this is a temporary solution, and is not ideal for any online account that deals with important, enduring data.

Phone Calls and Texts

As you use the internet, you're still bound to your cell phone. Your number is often required for registration, while phone calls leave a trail of activity tied to your name. In any scenario where you need to make phone calls or send texts in secrecy, you can use the Burner app to generate new phone numbers. The app will give you everything you need for calls and texts, though don't expect these numbers to be as permanent: they "burn" after a few weeks. It also costs $5 to create the numbers. If you don't want a record on your credit card bill, buy a prepaid Visa card at a convenience store and use that instead. Because Burner is an app, it will be visible on your phone—if your partner has access to your phone, delete the app when you're done using it. You can always re-install it when you need to. Note that most app stores will indicate whether you've downloaded an app, even if you've deleted it, so if you think it's possible that your partner will monitor your app store activity, reconsider using this app.