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E-mail security

There's a saying around Capitol Hill: Behind every letter that shows up in a senator or representative's office, you'll find a lot more people who think the same way but didn't get around to committing pen to paper.

On the theory that reader e-mail works in the same way, I plan on using this space to address questions that show up in my inbox--just in case I managed to confuse more than a few of you.

For instance: After reading yesterday's Help File item, one reader complained that I had ignored what happens to your e-mail once you click the "send" button. Almost always, he pointed out, your message crosses the Internet unencrypted.

That's true--years ago, I wrote a column lamenting how few people ever cared to use free PGP encryption to secure the contents of their e-mail--but it's a separate and much bigger issue than the subject of the column. It's also an issue where people seem content with the current state of affairs... perhaps in the belief that anybody who starts eavesdropping on e-mail at random will have to wade through gigabytes of spam before stumbling across your messages.

(Edit: Two other readers have now raised a different point--the location of the "enhanced security" links in Hotmail and Windows Live Mail. They're right under the password field, but each site uses slightly different wording--"Use enhanced security" and "Sign in using enhanced security." Had Microsoft stuck to one phrase, I could have given exact directions. Had Microsoft made encryption standard, not an option, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all.)

By Rob Pegoraro  |  February 5, 2007; 8:33 AM ET
Categories:  Feedback  
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Comments

Rob, what the Post needs is a central location that all the blogs can be read from. Something like http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/ ,but with all the blogs listed. Yours and Post IT aren't listed there.

Posted by: wiredog | February 5, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

A follow-up: Perhaps the central blog page could show the title and time of the latest blog entry for each blog. Rather the way that HuSi ( www.hulver.com , a sort of group blog) does.

Posted by: wiredog (again) | February 5, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Did you know that Opera also has a built in RSS reader?

Posted by: Sharon | February 5, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Rob,

My almost ten year old son has started on the internet, and we're concerned that he's googling/exploring sites he shouldn't be going to.

Kind of an obvious step for a curious child, but I need your help.

Could you recommend an easy site with parental controls? We use Firefox and XP and do not use AOL.

(I realize this isn't the 'proper' place to send you a question, but couldn't find out how in your new blog!)

Thanks.

Craig
Kraigster@gmail.com

Posted by: Craig-NY | February 5, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

@Craig

Check out this: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Parental_controls for info on how to filter when surfing with Firefox.

Posted by: wiredog | February 5, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I know lots of people love blogs, and I love reading them, but keeping up with them, to me, is more of a hassle than reading an email. The email is delivered to me; I have to go out and look at the sites, even if I have RSS, I still have to check the RSS to see if there's an update. Is there an RSS that emails to let me know when a site is updated?

Thanks

Posted by: Betsy True | February 5, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Re: E-mail security. Many of us have no control over the level of security on our office e-mail. Often those settings are controlled by a central IT authority. Why those people don't impose encryption requirements, I can't say.

Posted by: Tom T. | February 5, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Rob,

I am glad your blog is up and I will be a regular reader. Wonder if you were inspired by 72 years old Bill Marriott who beat you to it :) with his Blog. Very interesting at Blogs.marriott.com

Posted by: Shashi Bellamkonda | February 5, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

A comment on Outlook and Outlook Express. I learned my email on Eudora. One of the things on Eudora that I really miss is the "send again" button. I could never understand why Microsoft never put it in their email programs.

Posted by: Jim Muller | February 5, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Rob,
Being in the market for a new machine, I cannot find any way of evaluating which processor I should be looking for. It used to be easy to compare speeds. Now, when the Flight Simulator manual indicates a 3.4 Ghz proessor would be super keen, nobody describes their products using this nomenclature. Is there a site which indicates equivalencies? Do I have to go to a store and depend on a salesman for this answer? That option doesn't thrill me.

Posted by: BigEd | February 5, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of e-mail privacy/security, I would never use Gmail, because they scan the contents of every e-mail message, for advertising purposes.

I suppose, in the future, they will also want to scan all Google Office documents and spreadsheets. I'm never going to use that service either.

Posted by: TomT | February 5, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

To JIm:

Microsoft *does* have a resend command--they put in in Office 2004. I see that it is also in Office 2007 for Windows users.

Posted by: Jane | February 5, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Craig,

Safari has some great parental controls. I wish I had know when my kids were younger.

Posted by: Jane | February 5, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I just linked over from what appears to be your last e mail and where you discuss that someone can receive two reminders about the publishing of Fast Forward but I don't see any link as to where to sign up. help.

js

Posted by: Rob | February 5, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Rob,
I know you probably have no control over this, but you've got to talk to the geeks (I use the term respectfully as I am one myself) in charge of the RSS feeds for the Post blogs. It seems they have redone all of them (thus causing umpteen unread items in my reader) to put excerpted entries with "Please click on the title to continue reading this entry." on the end of them. There is no way I'm going to keep subscribing to the feeds if I have to click through to read the whole entry every single time. Embed ads in the feed if you must, but give me the WHOLE entry, not part of it.
Thanks for letting me vent.

Posted by: Brian D. | February 5, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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