Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How you could lose all your webmail and how to protect yourself

Just yesterday, I spoke to a very distraught guy who said he just
"lost his whole life" to to a hacking problem on the internet.
"I found out that 11 million people on gmail have been hacked just like me. The hacker shut me out of all access to all the information I had been counting on on the cloud. And google is a totally automated system; they could do nothing to help me or the 11 million others." This
guy was recently retired from NASA, and fully informed about regular security procedures
and technology, so it would be very risky to assume that you are safer than he is.

Suddenly I wish I had paid more attention to another friend, who casually mentioned that he
configured his gmail so that he uses it with Outlook. His gmail is still there on the cloud. He can still access it from anywhere on earth on his laptop or his desktops, which have been set up to run Outlook, using the google servers. But he can very easily make backup copies of all his folders
any time he chooses, so that he is safe, unlike my other poor friend. And the folder structure
lets him organize his life in a way that the default google interfaces do not. This is a serious matter, just as serious as backing up your hard drive.

And... it's easy. It does require searching on "gmail IMAP" and such on the gmail help pages and
web in general. But at the end of the day, it amounts to clicking on the "enable IMAP"
setting in gmail, typing in the names of the gmail servers into an Outlook account, and being sure
you are happy with your settings in Outlook. (like "leave mail on server.") And of course being prepared to wait a little the first time as it copies all your gmail to your computer.

I still don't know what you get from the usual gmail interface when you create folders
(exploit IMAP) for use in Outlook. There are things on that on the web, but not so clear to me.

I never did what my Outlook friend did, because I don't like Outlook very much.
(Not that Thunderbird and its ersatz Eudora are any better.) But the same thing can
be done with AppleMail.

I really wish google had bought out Eudora 7 when it was available cheap. They could
have cleaned up just a few things, and then offered their OWN IMAP client -- and made it
a lot easier for lots and lots of people to use it! A lot of former Eudora users would
pay for that option, just as they paid for Eudora, ""even" if it's "just" available
for use with gmail. 

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