What is Masqt?
Masqt is your digital shield. It helps people protect their personal data safely and easily, both online and off.
We do this by giving you working, disposable alternatives to your email address and phone number.
Masqt email addresses are free. They forward email to you and can be created at the touch of a button from your dashboard.
Masqt virtual phone numbers forward calls and texts to you, and can be leased through your dashboard.
Masques are your pseudo-identities – a way to keep track of your Masqt emails and Masqt numbers.
Masqt allows you to protect yourself quickly wherever you feel uncomfortable giving out your personal info. Current customers report using Masqt for dating, online trading, hotel bookings, newsletters, and subscriptions, to name a few.
Masqt was founded by two computer nerds with complementary skill sets, and a combined passion for privacy, data security, and programming.
Our aim at Masqt is to let people do their thing — hackers will hack, stalkers will stalk, data miners will mine — while we will help you keep your personal data private. We want to enable you to live your life without the worry of your personal data being exposed.
Why do we care?
Getting ready for work one morning, my wife and I discovered one of her colleagues parked in our car park. He was watching our apartment.
She had been stalked before and had already recognised the warning signs: unwelcome overtures and strange behaviours that graduated to events like this. This guy was different, though. He had substantial resources.
Naturally, I started taking a concerted interest in personal privacy. My own interest in computer security and cryptography seemed to be a good springboard into this new discipline. It took a great deal of learning, planning, and effort, but we managed to get ourselves free of that potentially dangerous situation. We moved country and disappeared.
In the 15-odd years since, I have become well versed in keeping information about myself difficult to uncover, both online and in real life. One particularly useful idea is to have multiple pseudo-identities that can be used in different and isolated contexts. Each one is like a mask to wear when doing some specific activity, like shopping online, or staying in a hotel, or for a Tinder date.
Each identity has its own name, date of birth, email address, phone number, and possibly a prepaid credit card. The information of each identity should never cross-over or link up with another. In the intelligence community, these are called compartmentalised identities.
It’s not easy for private citizens to establish these alt-personas and they’re even harder to keep track of.
For instance, a few years ago my wife and I got a pair of Kindles. Our existing Amazon accounts were for work-related kit, which I didn’t want connected to our trashy, guilty-pleasure reading preferences. Time for a new set of masks, fresh identities for our Kindle accounts and ONLY our Kindle accounts, completely isolated: compartmentalised.
First I made up a pair of character sheets with names and birthdates, and set up their Gmail accounts. Then I went into town and bought SIM cards and prepaid MasterCards. I paid in cash in different shops and went home to play the extremely unfun game of handset-SIM-switcheroo. Finally I set up the Amazon accounts and the Kindles. The whole affair took more than six hours and cost almost half the price of one of the Kindles.
The time, effort and money spent just to protect my personal information was ridiculous. Especially so in this modern digital age, when setting up email aliases, virtual phone numbers, and virtual payment cards should all be automated, affordable, and click-of-a-button easy.
That got me thinking.
Not long after, my co-founder, Seamus, and I got to work developing Masqt.