Encryption

15 pts.
Tags:
Encryption
Security
Security policies
My son tells me that my Charter.net email does not use encryption. Is this more common or less common? Lee

Software/Hardware used:
windows 7
ASKED: March 18, 2013  5:52 PM
UPDATED: March 18, 2013  6:38 PM

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If it’s web mail, you’ll know you’re using an encrypted connection if you see “https://” in the address field. The other email protocols SMTP, POP3, and IMAP can use encrypted connections over ports 465, 995, and 993 respectively. If you see any mention of these ports in your email configuration then you’re connections may very well be encrypted. It’s hard to say for sure so you may want to call Charter.

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  • TomLiotta
    Encryption of e-mail is rarely used by most general e-mail users. It's not especially common even for business accounts. -- Tom
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  • TomLiotta
    An encrypted connection isn't the same as "email ... encryption", but the question doesn't quite specify. That might be worth clarification. The Charter configuration examples and instructions don't explicitly discuss encryption anywhere that's easily found for me. However, at least one of the sample screen-prints shows a 'Use SSL' radio button selected. It's highly likely that at least webmail authentication is over HTTPS. Whether anything else is will only be known to a subscriber. -- Tom
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  • autonut
    I have tried port 993 but it will not work. Could receive no direct answer to my questions from Charter.net. They kind of inform me that they have SSL for mobile use but not desktops which seems odd to me. They kept asking me questions such as what email client I am using etc and telling me to get my mail on their website. I just signed up with them and it is discouraging. I am using an IMAP configuration. Cannot receive incoming mail with a 993 port. I have to use port 143 which is not SSL. Anyone can read my email.
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  • TomLiotta
    Cannot receive incoming mail with a 993 port. I have to use port 143 which is not SSL. Anyone can read my email.   Assuming that you are a home user, the port has essentially nothing to do with whether or not anyone else can read your mail. The risk that anyone has any capability of monitoring your connection to the e-mail server is so small as not to be worth crossing your mind.   In a business environment with multiple network segments and network entry points, the risk can become meaningful. In a home where you connect to an ISP modem/router, it's essentially zero risk. It's a much greater risk simply that your e-mail is on the ISP's mail server.   That points to a major difference between "encrypted e-mail" and "encrypted connection". If the e-mail is encrypted, it's very difficult for anyone ever to read the e-mail if it's intercepted or if your account is accessed. If only the connection is encrypted, it's difficult for someone tapping into your communication circuit to read what passes through the circuit; but the e-mail can be read by anyone who has acces to your account (or to the account of the sender or recipient on the other end). Encrypted e-mail is even protected on the other end, where the sender (or recipient) is involved. But an encrypted connection only covers your individual side.   In general, if you keep your ISP account passwords both strong and safe, it hardly matters if you use SSL or any secured communications. But if you let others know or guess your account passwords, then SSL won't help at all... unless you use e-mail encryption.   Unfortunately, e-mail encryption isn't trivial. A big issue is that those to whom you send encrypted e-mails must be able to decrypt the e-mails. Also, you must be able to decrypt any encrypted e-mails that are sent to you. Naturally, the same keys can't be used by everyone; otherwise everyone could decrypt all e-mails and none would be secret. Everyone must have their own private keys and needs to give public keys to all recipients. It gets pretty messy without a plan and a purpose.   In short, it's probably not worth thinking about, unless you have an actual specific need that you must address.   Now, if, for example, you have a practical idea about, say, a new kind of battery that would work as well as the latest lithium-ion batteries but without any risks of fire or explosion and would be cheaper to maufacture, your idea should be protected. Almost any communication you had about your idea should be secret. E-mails about it should be encrypted. You wouldn't want someone else to get a description of how it worked and to start mass production before you could get it going.   That would be worth e-mail encryption.   But "normal" e-mail is unlikely to be a problem. Keeping your account credentials strong and safe is by far the most important thing you can do.   Tom
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