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Securing your E-Mail client – Outlook Express Part 2

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Securing your E-Mail client - Outlook Express

Outlook Express Security

Manage SPAM with Outlook Express

Junk email or Spam denotes any received email that contains unwanted or undesirable content or attachments. Outlook Express provides a way to handle spam but requires that you manually determine what is spam and then block future spam based on that by creating a message filter.

Creating a Junk message filter

To setup a Junk mail filter you need to find some information about the spam messages you are receiving. Before creating the filter, accumulate few junk mail messages in your Inbox and record the sender's name, email address and the subject line.

Once you have this list, go to the Tools menu, click Message Rules and then click on Mail.

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The New Mail Rule window has three sections.

Select the conditions for your rule: This is where you specify the conditions for when to implement the rule.

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Select the Actions for your rule: This is where you specify the actions on what you want the rule to do.

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Rule Description: Here you can edit the conditions and actions selected in the above two sections.

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You can setup any number of filters using a combination of "rules and actions" and fine tune your Junk mail filters. It looks easy enough, but getting these filters to work involves trial and error and you will have to update your list on a regular basis.

Using Blocked Senders List

Here you can block messages from a particular sender or domain. When you add an entry in this list, messages from that sender or domain goes directly to your Deleted Items folder.

Open the Tools menu, click Message Rules and then click on Blocked Senders List

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Click Add, enter the senders email address or domain and click OK.

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You can also block the sender of an email message straight from the Inbox. Select a message you want to block. Go to the Message menu and click Block Sender to add the sender to your Blocked senders list.

Encrypt & Digitally sign your messages

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Plain emails have two big problems, anybody enroute can read it and anybody can pretend to be you or alter the contents of the message.

The solution is to use Public-key cryptography. It enables you to communicate securely over insecure channels. Each user is given a pair of keys, a Public Key which can be made availble to anyone who wants to have secure communication with you and a Private Key which is secretly encrypted in your computer. The public and private keys are related in such a way that a message encrypted with your public key can be decrypted only with your private key. Using the above methodology a message can be digitally signed, securely encrypted and decrypted only by the intended user.

Personal digital certificates are issued by a trusted third party known as a Certificate Authority such as VeriSign, Thawte or GeoTrust. Thawte offers unlimited personal email certificates for free.

An another alternative is to use a software such as PGP, which stands for "Pretty Good Privacy" or GnuPG, which is a open source replacement for PGP. There are many free and paid versions of PGP is available for download. Checkout Privacy-Security (UIUC)- PGP Versions, Sources, & Alternatives by Eric Howes for all the options.

How to Digitally Sign and Encrypt Messages in Outlook Express

Step-by-Step PGP Guide

Beware of Phishing / Spoofing emails

Spoofing and phishing are two different, but interrelated, techniques employed by scamsters to steal your sensitive personal information like credit card number, bank account number, ATM pin etc.

Phishing is defined as "Pronounced "fishing," it is a scam to steal valuable information such as credit card and social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. Also known as "brand spoofing," an official-looking e-mail is sent to potential victims pretending to be from their ISP, bank or retail establishment."

Spoofing is defined as "Using the sending address of a third party in order to entice the recipient to read the message".

View screenshots of actual Phishing email messages HERE

How to Protect against Phishing & Spoofing

Check the header: Every email contains a component called "header", it details the messages transmission history. "It is generated by the client mail program that first sends it and by all the mail servers en route to the destination. Each node adds more text, including from/to addresses, subject, content type, time stamp and identification data. You can trace the path of the message from source to destination by reviewing the e-mail header text." To view the header information of a message in Outlook Express, select the message in your Inbox by clicking on it, go to File menu and click on Properties and click Details.

Here are couple of links that should help you to learn about reading the header information contained in an email.

Analyzing e-mail headers and tracking e-mail

All About Email Headers

Be reluctant when clicking links in email messages: Never ever supply your personal or confidential information in an email form or through a link in the email message. It would be prudent to go the Website seeking information by directly typing their address in your browser's address bar.

If you are seriously in doubt about the legitimacy of the email, telephonically enquire the company in question about the information requested in the email. It won't do any harm if you forward a copy of the message to them for suitable action, before deleting it.

This concludes the Outlook Express Security Tutorial

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