Apple Describes Disposable Email Solution to Combat Spam in New Patent Application

mailicon.jpgApple has developed a system for both avoiding spam and locating its source, according to a patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday (via AppleInsider).

The patent, originally filed for in 2012, describes an email system that would allow users to create temporary, disposable email addresses linked to a permanent email account. These temporary addresses could be used to join websites or make purchases, with incoming emails to these addresses forwarded to the permanent email address.

If the temporary email address is sold by a site or otherwise compromised and begins to receive spam emails, it can simply be disabled and unlinked from the permanent account, effectively ending the spam emails.

As a bonus, assigning temporary email addresses when signing up for various accounts around the web also allows for specific identification of sites or parties that have misused email addresses. Apple specifies that contextual information can be included in the temporary addresses for easy identification.

An integrated system allows easily creating and using disposable email addresses. The disposable email address is created by an email server, which manages correspondence using the disposable email address to avoid exposing the associated non-disposable email address. Context information may be associated with a disposable email address, where the context information is not visible in email sent using the disposable email address. Should the disposable address be misused, the associated context may allow a user to recognize what correspondent exposed the disposable address to misuse.

Apple's system would also carefully manage incoming emails, assigning the proper address for replies so that a user’s permanent account is never revealed, and the temporary emails, unlike existing disposable email solutions, would be indistinguishable from standard email addresses.

While there are a variety of sites that provide access to temporary emails such as Mailinator and Guerrilla Mail, few of these services are able to be linked to a permanent account for ongoing usage until spam occurs and must be checked individually. Apple notes that current disposable email systems are difficult to use.

Gmail has its own solution in the form of email aliases, allowing customers to receive messages to username+anyalias@gmail.com, which is treated as the standard email address. Aliases in Gmail can be filtered to specific locations like the trash when subjected to spam, but they cannot be deleted entirely as Apple proposes.

Apple's solution combines a standard mail service with a temporary service like Mailinator, making it simple to create, manage, and delete disposable email addresses. The described system has the potential to allow users to greatly cut down on the amount of spam emails received if it is implemented, but as with many patents, it is unclear if Apple has plans to move forward with such a system.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

newagemac Avatar
97 months ago
Now if they can just fix the Mail app in Mavericks, we'll be in good shape!
The Mail app in Mavericks works great. My guess is you are using that non standard terribly implemented IMAP email service known as Gmail.

In any case, I already have the perfect spam solution similar to what Apple is doing here. All it takes is to purchase your own domain name and use the catchall email feature with forwarding to your real email address. Then when you sign up somewhere like for instance Walmart's site you just use walmart@mydomainname.com and that way you never give out your email address and instantly know when someone is spamming you and can turn it off whenever.

Been doing this for years.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
randian Avatar
97 months ago
What's novel or patentable here? Disposable email addresses have been provided by numerous email providers for years
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JonneyGee Avatar
97 months ago
Now if they can just fix the Mail app in Mavericks, we'll be in good shape!
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
FrozenDarkness Avatar
97 months ago
Spamgourmet (https://www.spamgourmet.com/) does word-for-word what this patent describes, and I've been using it since 2007. The patent should be invalidated.

if you think it does word-for-word, than you are sorely mistaken and should reread this article word-for-word
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tdiaz Avatar
97 months ago
This is just pointless. The effort spent in making up email addresses and then remembering which one for what use, and how many other places you used it, vs. being able to dump it..

First, this is nothing new. If you control your own domain, you can do that already. The last thing we need is someone to patent that and then screw everyone for making aliases.

Spam is out of control. Period. The consequences need to be raised. Start going after the sites that sell, where the links go. Screw the senders. Make it hurt to even be involved in it. Then it will stop.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newagemac Avatar
97 months ago
Gmail has this functionality built in kind of with custom filters. You can add "+<text>" to your email address and create a filter to work with the <text> portion. Ex. JSmith@gmail.com -> JSmith+macrumors@gmail.com. Then create a filter to send all mail sent to JSmith+macrumors@gmail.com to your MacRumors folder, or spam folder, or trash, the possibilities are endless.
The way Gmail offers this has several issues that Apple is solving here. First of all, everyone knows that gmail offers the "+" feature so even the most unsophisticated spammers can easily just program their software to strip that part and get your real email address when its a gmail address. The other big issue is that many web forms and software systems don't accept the + character.

But this patent also seems to make the whole thing about assigning alias addresses and managing them more built in and automated. If Apple can make that type of system easier to use for the general public it would go a long way towards cutting down on spam in general. The best case scenario would be something like how they popularized smartphones and made it mainstream.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...
nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
Apple Leak Feature

Apple Demands Leaker Reveals Sources Under Threat of Being Reported to Police

Wednesday July 28, 2021 6:53 am PDT by
Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to a leaker based in China as part of its continuing attempts to curtail leaks of unreleased products, according to Vice. A Chinese citizen who shared images of stolen Apple prototypes on social media was sent a warning letter from Fangda Partners, Apple's law firm in China, on June 18, 2021. An extract from the letter read:You have disclosed without ...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 4: Safari Tweaks, MagSafe Battery Pack Support, Notification Updates and More

Tuesday July 27, 2021 11:47 am PDT by
Apple today released the fourth betas of iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, introducing additional refinements to the new features that are coming in the software updates. In these betas, Apple has introduced changes for Safari, Notifications, Focus mode, and more. Safari Updates Apple is continuing to refine the design of Safari on the iPhone, and in iOS 15, there are tweaks to improve usability. ...
new m1 chip

Tim Cook on Apple Deciding to Manufacture Components: 'We Ask Ourselves If We Can Do Something Better'

Tuesday July 27, 2021 3:04 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked how Apple decides what components to purchase and what components to develop, and Cook said that Apple asks if it can be done better. We ask ourselves if we can do something better. If we can deliver a better product. If we can buy something in the market and it's great...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...