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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Everywhere, Earth

    Question Please Explain E-Mail, Hosting, & Privacy.

    I have a rather odd question that I couldn't find discussed elsewhere. Please be patient with me, as I'm learning all about this stuff.

    I purchased a domain name, have decided on a hosting company, but need to understand more about e-mail. If I set up several e-mail accounts, as administrator, am I able to view the e-mail of the other accounts/people? I would rather be able to provide the security of private e-mails, but don't want to say anything if I could potentially view their accounts.

    Is there full privacy, or can the administrator potentially view e-mails?

    Any assistance is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Short answer: Yes, admins can view mail if they want to but only if it is in the mail queue or if you log into the master mailbox account of the domain.

    Technically, there is full privacy though since you actually have to be looking to read the mail. Its not really something you can "stumble" over...

    If the web closed at midnight, what would YOU do?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    The answer to this question, for most areas, is fairly server dependent.

    Firstly, if you read your email via POP, it is accumulated into a file on the system until your mail client (eg Outlook) collects it. Normally your email client is set up to retrieve the email from the server then delete it. So, if you don't check your email regularly, it is POSSIBLE for your host to read it. If you use something like Thunderbird to read email you could encrypt it using PGP which will make it unreadable to everyone, probably even including the CIA. This stands true for nearly all hosting servers. With a typical Outlook setup your email would only be on the server for 15 minutes at a time so someone's going to have to be pretty eager to read your email, or go to a lot of trouble to intercept it.

    Some hosting control panels allow you to read email for other accounts under your domain via webmail. And of course you can also set up forwarders (aliases) to allow you to see copies of emails sent to a forwarder or another email account.

    Some hosts retain email in their MailScanner system (or similar) for a period after the email has passed through. Sometimes this period is for a few weeks. I know that one version of MailScanner did this as one of our partitions was getting close to full as a result. You should note that most hosts just don't have the disk space to assign to this - it can be Gigabytes in days.

    Many hosts retain a log of email sent/received for some months. How much detail this contains does vary - from from/to, source of email (ie IP address etc) and time, to all headers for the piece of email. For instance, our company retains all email headers myself for several months to aid in email troubleshooting, the body of the email is discarded once it's been retrieved via POP. This allows us to see the subject of the email, who it was from and who it was to - and saves us hours when people have email problems and point the finger at us.

    There are two bottom lines to all this:

    1) Don't assume email is private, ever. Don't send anything nasty or libellous or containing secret technical details through email. There's always a possibility that someone will read it, or that you'll send it to the wrong person, that a virus will send it out to 1000 people just because that's what viruses do, or that someone will break into the mailbox (on the PC) of the person receiving it. Witness the girl who sent a sexual email to someone and it was then forwarded world wide with her real name (Clare someone). She sued the idiot who forwarded it, too late. Always assume any email you send out may get plastered all over the tallest building in town for anyone to read.

    2) Most hosts CAN read your email but WILL NOT - simply because they (a) don't care, and (b) don't have the time to read the hundreds of thousands of email messages that go through their server. And in the very unlikely event that they do read them, they probably won't tell anyone, because in many countries intercepting electronic communication is a legal/criminal/suable offence. If you represent something of special interest to your host, eg criminal activity, they might hand your email over to authorities or read it themselves, but otherwise you're safely buried in anonymity. If you send anything critical or confidential to your business, always encrypt it. You should do that even if your email server is internal to your company. Emails, once received, sit around in files on people's PC, and backups, for years.

    In all honesty, it's as much risk, or bigger, that your email will get intercepted or read by someone else from the recipient's PC than it will be intercepted on the server. It all adds up to the sensitivity of your email - act just as you would with a sensitive piece of paper. Common sense goes a long way!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Everywhere, Earth

    Thank you so much for the detailed response. I appreciate the information and you taking the time to respond.


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