Firefox’s new feature protects against email tracking and spam


Image: Mozilla

Email masks let you hide your email address on the internet—whenever you sign up for a mailing list, website, or app, you pop a disposable alias into the form instead of your actual address. And soon you’ll be able to use a version of it directly from within Firefox.

In welcome news for all Firefox users, Mozilla announced this week that Firefox Relay, its version of email masking, will become integrated into its browser. Launched in 2020, Relay has only been accessible so far through a browser add-on. That separation has likely kept masked email and its privacy benefits from becoming more popular, despite Mozilla offering all Relay users up to five email masks for free. 

Most people aren’t aware they can easily block email tracking and spam via Relay, much less protect themselves in the wake of endless data breaches. With even just one email mask in use, you can shield your true address, making a hacker’s attempts to take over that account much harder. And if you have unlimited masks and create a new one for each site and app, malicious actors can’t easily take info from data breaches and apply it widely across the web.

This animated gif from Mozilla’s blog post about the Firefox Relay integration demonstrates how Relay works.Mozilla

With the coming browser integration, masked email should become far more convenient to try out, and possibly a more common habit too. Before Firefox Relay and other services like DuckDuckGo Email Protection and SimpleLogin started appearing, you could spin up a home-brew version with email aliases, but you also had to manage the whole endeavor: buying your own domain, creating each alias, and tracking each one, typically via a cumbersome, bare-bones web interface. Making unique addresses for every site and service on the internet was generally a time-consuming slog and not many people went that far. Easier access and wider awareness should help everyone maintain better privacy, and thus security, on the internet.

If you’re interested in seeing email masks in action, you can sign up for Firefox Relay now. Otherwise, you can read more about email masks in our primer while you wait for the integration to launch. Mozilla says Relay will become available to all Firefox users directly in-browser later this year.

Author: Alaina Yee, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.


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