E-mail addresses: these are the mistakes you should avoid

Here’s what you should look for when choosing an e-mail address

From private and professional communication to online shopping and administrative tasks: nothing works without e-mail. Even if you forget your password for a service, you often receive the new one by e-mail. So it is all the more important to choose your own e-mail address(es) carefully.

What matters depends on what the address is used for, says Marcus Pritsch from Stiftung Warentest. "Namely, it’s best to have one main address for official inquiries and emails to friends and family," he advises. "This can also be used to log into important providers online, such as a payment service provider."

Especially with the main address you should be choosy. The provider’s approach to data protection and privacy is important, says Pritsch. "The decisive factor here is first of all where the company is based. In the USA, for example, government agencies have access to all data. This is not the case with European providers."

"E-Mail made in Germany"

The providers 1&1, Web.de, GMX, Telekom (T-Online-/Magenta-Mail), Strato and Freenet use transport encryption for e-mails – both between their users and data centers and among each other. The initiative is called "E-Mail made in Germany.

If the message is sent like this, it is often encrypted – but the provider could still read it if he wanted to. You can think of it like a postcard in a mailbag, says Pritsch.

This can be prevented by end-to-end encryption, which is also and especially important for sensitive messages, for example to the doctor. Only the sender and recipient can read the message, just like a letter in an envelope.

The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) generally recommends encrypting e-mails. Many solutions for this are based on the encryption concept Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). End-to-end encryption only works, however, if both sender and recipient have set up the same encryption system – one reason, besides complexity, why private individuals hardly ever encrypt.

Email and privacy

As an alternative to the big ones, smaller providers can be used who attach particular importance to data protection, says Jo Bager from the specialist magazine "c’t". "Who data security is important, that is with one of the two German offerers Posteo or Mailbox.org well kept. These place a high value on security, and there is no personalized advertising there." An account is available from one euro per month.

But for the main address it is quite worthwhile to take some money in the hand, means commodity tester Pritsch. He also recommends setting up additional addresses, such as for newsletters or online shopping.

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