own email servers - is this game over?
Those of us who have not
ventured into the world of web-interfaced services for a while,
might have overlooked that Yahoo has now produced a complete set
of services for email and web sites that makes the prospect of
trying run and manage your own – and deal with the steadily
increasing issues of hackers and backup – all rather pointless.
Even an SME is probably better off letting Yahoo take the strain.
Of course this is utterly
contrary to the founding tenets of the internet, since from a
world of nicely distributed and resilient “stand alone”
services, capable of withstanding nuclear attack by rerouting
around the failures, we are back to the shortcomings of the
original lumpy solutions such as pre-internet Compuserve and
Prestel, with their traditional (and frequent) single points of
failure. And a single large organisation that is impossible to
access and talk to as a user – but that governments so enjoy
“dealing with”, compared to the anarchic mass of small
autonomous systems spread around the globe.
If I was a terrorist,
I’d feel a lot more anonymous on one of the bigger services
where it’s easy to get lost in the sheer enormity of it all.
However, you can be quite certain that every email is traceable to
the originating IP address – and from there, back through to the
ISP terminal server and login logs– sooner or later. Whoops,
it’s an internet café – or a stray “borrowed” 802.11
Anyway, I gave up on
Hotmail a long time ago when a “secret” Hotmail account of
mine started receiving spam mysteriously. I had never ever
published the address anywhere as a test of the security of the
system, and I still got spam. Added to which, would I really want
to trust Microsoft with any more of my sensitive personal
information? I don’t think so.
The problem with all
webmail services but Hushmail is that the mail text transmission
is “in the clear” even if the password at sign-on is over SSL.
I don’t know if this is because the NSF/MI5/CIA want easy access
to scan everyone’s mail, or the service operators are just lazy.
I am quite certain that everything on the Hushmail service is
scanned by the CIA, but I can just about trust them not sell my
email address to a third party spam agency. But only just…
For most users of email
– especially itinerant users - the only thing wrong with the
Yahoo services is the seemingly incurable yank passion for
advertising everywhere. Even as a paying subscriber to the
service, I get the commercials, but am rapidly becoming completely
indifferent to them.