Monday, May 24, 2010

Welcome, Aliencamel! Which Pobox account is right for you?

Pobox offers a warm welcome to Aliencamel customers! You may have recently received an email detailing your migration options. Let me tell you a little bit more about Pobox.

All accounts include email forwarding, spam filtering, and vacation autoreplies. If you already have another place you want to read your email, then a Pobox Basic account will let you forward your mail to the email address of your choice for USD$20/year.

Want to add email filters? Pobox Plus accounts include email filters that let you redirect, block, send autoreplies, send a condensed version to your mobile phone, or tag the subject of your message. Plus accounts are USD$35/year, and include all the Basic features, as well.

And if you're looking for a new home for your address, Mailstore accounts support IMAP and POP for nearly all current email clients, plus webmail! It's 10GB of storage, plus all the features of Basic and Plus, for USD$50/year.

Once you've selected an account type and signed up, there are two other things you'll want to do: add your address, and import your whitelists (some of you have 10,000 and counting!) You should already have your code and URL to add your address -- just remember, you can't add it if you're using as your forwarding address. So remove that as a forwarding address first, then use the URL to add it as an alias. To import your whitelists, just send an email to, including your pobox or aliencamel address, and your whitelist attached as a file, and we'll import it for you!

With 15 years and counting, we hope that Pobox can be your email home for a long, long time. If you have any questions about the service, please contact Customer Support; we'd be happy to tell you more about ourselves and the best option for you!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Please don't email your credit card number!

When someone is hatching a secret plan in a movie, you might see them ask, "Is this a secure line???" The average telephone call is transmitted as-is, which means, as it travels through the many lines and machines necessary to tranmit the call around the world or down the street, someone with the right equipment could listen in.

Email works the same way.

You might have the impression, given how fast email works, when you send an email that it just goes from your computer to the recipient's mailbox. In fact, even simple setups usually pass your email through 4 or more computers.

Email is like a postcard; for the most part, people aren't interested enough in what you're saying to bother looking at it. But credit card numbers are an obviously-identifiable string, making them easy to look for in a stream of content going by.

How do you prevent your credit card number from being picked up? Encryption. That's why you're never supposed to type in your password or credit card number to a web browser that doesn't show a secured lock or key. That lock indicates that your data is scrambled while in transmission; the website then has the information necessary to unscramble it on the other end.

Ok, then, why don't we just encrypt email, too? Well, it's not that simple. Companies pay a security provider for that encryption service. The security provider generates the information, and verifies that it's accurate, and provides the key to you that's necessary to scramble your data. And, over the years, the security provider has made sure that all the web browsers out there work with their service, so you never have to think about it.

For email, you would need a similar scrambling key for everyone who emails you, and you'd need to distribute your key to everyone you email. And you need a secure way to do that. And most people don't want that way to cost a lot of money. There are ways, and they work, and they've been around for a long time. They just aren't used by most people.

Think of email as a conversation you might have walking down the street. Generally, no one would bother to listen in. But if you started saying your credit card number repeatedly, well... it only takes one nasty person to cause a problem. So, please don't email your credit card number.