I’ve been using different online freemail ever since I left the comfort of my collegiate email account. Hotmail and Yahoo were the default options back in the mid-90s when I graduated and, for many years, despite the increasing spam, I stuck with them.
When .Mac was introduced in 2002, being a long–time Apple user, I jumped on that bandwagon. I have to admit, however, that even with Apple’s update of the Web-based email client to a richer, AJAX-heavy interface, gmail is now my clear preference. The fact that it’s free and has a much higher storage limit are almost besides the point; I can access gmail on the go and it doesn’t constantly time out, not to mention the seamless integration of gchat with other gmail users.
It’s quite possible, even likely, that Steve Jobs & Co. will update .Mac, including email, when the iPhone is released at the end of the month. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled. Recent reports of a dangerous hole in Google Desktop, along with the constant flow of spam and the malware occasionally associated with it, have kept me looking for better way to secure my online messaging, especially when I exchange email with someone who desires a digital signature or encrypted email.
Enter FireGPG. Thanks to popurls, which I love to use to get a snapshot of the Web’s “hive mind” at any given time, I found this great Firefox extension that allows you to encrypt, decrypt, sign and verify your gmail. Just head over to firegpg.tuxfamily.org to download the extension. Of course, as the developers of FireGPG note, it’s just a key management tool. If you’re unfamiliar with PGP, you can review our definition for Pretty Good Privacy. GnuPG is quite similar to PGP, with the notable difference of being free sofware released under the GNU General Public License. GnuPG is managed by the GNU project, with complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC2440. You can download GnuPG here.
Make sure to review Dmitri Popov’s excellent post at Linux.com for more information, if you’re interested in trying FireGPG out.
Enjoy your privacy!