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E-mail passwords

jwhite
Grafter
Posts: 33
Registered: 31-07-2007

E-mail passwords

I caught a little bit of last night's Watchdog programme on BBC1 which highlighted an issue that's nagged me in the past - how insecure the most common methods of email collection can be.  No matter how strong the password in your email account, it's passed as plain-text in the POP3 exchange with the server, available to anyone with a network sniffer.    As the programme shows, the danger is most acute using public wi-fi hotspots (I don't) which seem to have no encryption, though unsecured private networks must be just as vulnerable.  Hotel networks may also be in this category.
Surely there has to be a way of protecting against this?  E-mail clients have options for SPA and SSL but ISPs don't seem to support these (presumably to avoid the flood of support calls, or just to minimise server load).  I once had an account with Port995.com, which Plusnet closed down a few months ago, and this may have had some form of authentication.  Certainly, it allowed me to send mail through any gateway using that port, instead of having to keep changing the outgoing server.  The service wasn't very reliable - maybe it was vulnerable due to the higher server demand.
Port995 now redirects to the PAYH site, which implies you can set up your own e-mail server options to include security.  Is that the only option?  I don't need web-hosting, so it seems a bit much.  Any suggestions?  (Google search wasn't much help, though their own mail service requires SSL.)