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Web Security, Privacy & Commerce, 2nd Edition by Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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Secure Email

Despite the attention that is now being paid to topics such as cookies, advertisements, and anonymous browsing, these are all relative newcomers to a privacy issue that dominated the field of internet security for much of the 1990s—the sending of encrypted email.

Today, email carries some of our most confidential information. Yet basic email, as a communications medium, is riddled with poor security. Consider these potential email threats:

  • By sending an email message, you might reveal your name, your address, your location, or other personal information that you would rather keep confidential.

  • Your email message might be monitored by your employer or your ISP without your permission.

  • Your email message could be delivered to the wrong recipient, either because of an error with the mail system, or because you inadvertently selected the wrong recipient from your mail program’s address book.

  • Your email message could “bounce” into a postmaster mailbox—possibly because a computer between your computer and the recipient’s computer was unable to properly relay the message.

  • Once your email message is delivered, it might be seen by someone other than the intended recipient. (For example, somebody could gain unauthorized access to your correspondent’s computer, or the message might be turned over to an attorney as part of a discovery process.)

  • The intended recipient might forward the email message to someone against your wishes.

  • You might leave a job where you had been using your old ...

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