1.    16 May 2017 #1

    Online Email vs. Local Email 101


    Hiya,

    I'm that Mac2PC switcher guy. (They'll be more coming soon -- trust me.)

    Today's question is a very simple 'perspective' question. As a Mac user I never dealt with online email but instead always used my local Mail client.

    Moving to Windows and reading the news online I keep hearing don't open this email/don't open that email. I even read a recent story where you didn't even have to open it but merely receive it. No knock against Windows but this kind of ads a stress to switcher type. (I know Mac isn't immune from this but it's not as big deal there.) Anyway --

    -- this question comes in various forms.

    1. Do most PC users deal with their email online as a going concern? (Because a local Mail client is inherently dangerous.) Or --

    2. -- if you read your email online (say Gmail) are you virus/malware free no matter how much you click? (Providing you don't download anything.). Or --

    3. -- since a local client is as attached to the net as an online client, you're pooched either way?

    Kinda curious. Thanks for being such an awesome resource. Trying to give back as best as I can manage.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    17 May 2017 #2
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Posts : 115
    Windows 10

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pool Man View Post

    1. Do most PC users deal with their email online as a going concern? (Because a local Mail client is inherently dangerous.) Or --

    2. -- if you read your email online (say Gmail) are you virus/malware free no matter how much you click? (Providing you don't download anything.). Or --

    3. -- since a local client is as attached to the net as an online client, you're pooched either way?
    1. Some do, but many users use either the tools in W10 (Mail/Calendar/People app), Windows Live Mail (in older Windows), or 3rd party products. I don't have any percentages either way, and I would doubt anyone who does.

    2. If you're reading through a browser and you click on a URL, it could be a malicious site that could run scripts in the background to download and install malware that you wouldn't be aware of. Or, it could be a perfectly innocent site.

    Furthermore, if you're viewing on a mail site that displays ads on a side partition (or any web site, for that matter), those ad links could jump you to a malicious site - again without your knowledge. There are many malware or adware operations using Google Ads, etc. to wheedle their way onto your machine.

    3. If you use a local client, you're only downloading your mail content through a protocol (IMAP, POP3, Outlook EAS, etc.). Any decent anti-malware program running on-line scanning should check every attachment for malware.

    But, it still doesn't block any message from giving you bad URL's in the text of the message. If you click on a URL, again, your anti-malware program running real-time scanning should warn you of known bad URLs -- but you're taking a risk that it's brand new and too soon to have reached the A-M program's creators.

    In short, you aren't ever totally safe from downloads, so: 1. Look at the full URL address of any embedded link before you "leap", and 2. Always keep your anti-malware program running real-time, and keep updating it with the most current definitions.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    17 May 2017 #3

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    I'm taking your response to mean 'there's no big safety advantage to keeping your email activity mostly online'.

    Correct?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    18 May 2017 #4
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Portsmouth Hampshire
    Posts : 1,829
    Windows 10 x86 14383 Insider Pro and Core 10240

    My mantra for years has been avoid Internet Explorer, and shun Outlook. I do not use any other mail client.

    My email needs are simple, I only use Web-based mail - Hotmail/Windows Live/Outlook online mail, Gmail, even Yahoo mail, and the odd smaller online mail provider, when I need to log on as a "business" email address for some subscriptions.

    I don't get spammed, on Gmail, or the smaller online mail account which have a very limited range of recipients/senders. I do get small amounts of spam on Microsoft and Yahoo webmails. In mitigation, I use MS for contact addresses for online purchases and Yahoo for riskier registrations on forums etc.

    Since Windows 10 I find the Mail app scary. On systems where my MS account is logged in I have had Notifications in the Action Pane (little yellow bell icon) with unsolicited emails like "Urgent Action required - your Account will be closed!", which, if clicked, would open emails directly.

    The first reaction is to click on the notification to find out which account is involved - such is the social engineering - and for a phishing scam or malware vector, is capable of harming your system from that click, as the mail app will immediately open that email.

    Fortunately, I can open Outlook online from Chrome, view the message source for this alarming mail without opening it and decide to trash it immediately, or send it for analysis.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  5.    18 May 2017 #5

    Hi there @Fafhrd

    I'm afraid I violently disagree with webmail type of applications since usually poor performance and riddled with advertisments - plus as they are essentially browser based then you have another layer of fairly easy to break security for those in the know - for example if you get into debug mode (F12) on IE11 and simply click on any Google search you will be amazed at the number of redirections etc before your final search is reached. Plus of course all that data on your browsing history is saved and will no doubt be used by various companies for "targeted advertising", spam and possibly worse.

    (I know IE11 isn't the best browser - but the debug is easy to show typical re-directions things like Google makes -- it's easier to show in IE11 but other browsers do the same).

    If you have an ISP / Mail server then set up your email client to use IMAP - then all mail is left on the server and is acessible from phones, tablets, other computers etc.

    I don't find anything wrong with OUTLOOK but you have to have Ms OFFICE Pro -- otherwise an excellent free email client is THUNDERBIRD.

    Both these emails allow you to have multiple accounts, multiple mail servers such as an EXCHANGE server often used in workplaces plus you can also send and receive from these multiple accounts from a single application.

    The good thing about IMAP is that mail being left on the servers is that at least you get some preliminary security as most of these servers will have their own Virus detection software so it's an added layer -- but of course whatever client you use you should ALWAYS treat email carefully -- rather like handling a Hand grenade with the firing pin removed.

    You can at any time of course with IMAP copy mail to local folders and delete mail from the servers.

    Gmail can also be used as an OUTLOOK account as well as Thunderbird. As I said I'd avoid any 100% web based email client. Gmail works quite well with outlook


    How to Add Your Gmail Account to Outlook Using IMAP

    To add it on Thunderbird

    Google

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    18 May 2017 #6
    Join Date : Jul 2014
    Serbia
    Posts : 10,446
    W10 Insider + Linux

    For all non essential mail I like using web/browser based so nothing is downloaded to my computer but I can still save attachments if I want to, feel safer like that despite annoyances like adds. For serious stuff I use well guarded Outlook from MS Office, Also have some disposable e-mail accounts but only web/browser based and newer download any attachments from therm.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  7.    18 May 2017 #7
    Join Date : Dec 2013
    Portsmouth Hampshire
    Posts : 1,829
    Windows 10 x86 14383 Insider Pro and Core 10240

    I rarely see any adverts - I use a modified hosts file which redirects most admail and other advertising requests to IP address 0.0.0.0
    Often all I see is the little cyan AdChoices triangle - almost unnoticeable (from the Microsoft outlook online webpage for a hotmail account that's been going since the 1990s.)
    On Gmail, a couple of lines of sponsored ads - hardly in my face
    On Yahoo, one panel fails to connect to the advert and shows the unhappy google block. The EBay 2-line sponsored ad appears at the top of my spam folder, and the same ad on the top of any mail folder:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I don't have paid-for MS Office for the occasional use I would make of it - so no Outlook (even if I had it, I would not use it) - I can use Office Online or I have Office 97 from time dot, if I want to make a chart or table in Excel for my now limited uses. 97 is not even installed, it runs Word or Excel from a folder on my home network.

    All my mail accounts are available from anything that can display a webpage,and appears as fast as any other Webpage, not with the inexplicable delays as with the Windows Mail app.

    So why would I want another application and the need to manage its contents?

    I also don't want this behaviour from phishing scum:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image.png  
    Last edited by Fafhrd; 18 May 2017 at 09:11.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  8.    18 May 2017 #8
    Join Date : Aug 2015
    Posts : 115
    Windows 10

    Quote Originally Posted by The Pool Man View Post
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    I'm taking your response to mean 'there's no big safety advantage to keeping your email activity mostly online'.

    Correct?
    You're welcome.

    Yes, that was my general intent. I believe that browser-based access provides too many opportunities for ads (and their associated scriptware) to be viewed.

    Using an off-line mail client -- or even an on-line mail client, like W10 Mail -- limits such access. And, if you have multiple mail accounts, even on different ISPs, you get the opportunity for an integrated mailbox.
    Last edited by gpstoloff; 19 May 2017 at 07:40.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    19 May 2017 #9

    I see I accidentally started an interesting discussion. So very cool. A few responses --

    1. I've never used Outlook. Or Office. And won't. I'm really impressed with LibreOffice. Actually paid them $20 for my limited needs. And Mail is (almost) all I need out of an email client. Speaking of that --

    2. -- I'm a Gmail person and have been toying with Inbox. Inbox is their long overdue overhaul of Gmail online. It's kind of like an online Android mail app. I've 'installed' it as a 'local' app and would switch to it if sound notifications worked right. Looks like this --

    Click image for larger version. 

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    3. Jimbo45 talks about online mail being loaded with ads. Are you opposed to ad-blockers? In install them and only tolerate them on a handful of sites I choose to support. I recommend this.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  10.    20 May 2017 #10

    Hi there

    @The Pool Man

    I like nice clean simple email interface -- Thunderbird for example -- each account has separate inbox, deleted, sent etc. Here's a typical layout -- the account name would appear on top of the inbox - I haven't shown it of course !!!.

    The email appears when you open it identcally to outlook and can be sorted any number of ways - plus what you want to display etc etc. No probs with attachments either both inbound and outbound (i.e sending and receiving).

    Click image for larger version. 

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    That screenshot of your email client you showed in your post looks much too cluttered --why on earth for example do I need or want "Bundled items" in an inbox menu !!!!!. - I can manually create extra folders if I want them and move mail to local machine but I'm happy to leave on the server - I always use IMAP not POP/POP3.

    Thunderbird is a nice simple email interface, you can add add as many accounts as you like and it's simple to operate. Works with gmail accounts etc too.

    As far as third party adblockers etc are concerned -- why bother if you don't need them as they just add more complexity to your machine and they don't always work - and in any case any email client which requires you to use a web browser to use it has the security weakness of using web browsers and a lot of them collect data all the time to pass back to google etc for "Targeted email and spam" !!!! . In addition performance is usually pretty appalling compared with non browser based email systems.

    If you don't believe what I'm saying about "Data collection" use IE11 or Edge in "Developer mode " (press F12) - and you'll be amazed at how many sites etc are reached / data collected before even a simple Google search presents the result back to you -- ever wondered where a whole amount of Spam and junk email comes from.

    However like all these things YMMV of course !!!!

    Cheers
    jimbo
    Last edited by jimbo45; 20 May 2017 at 03:46.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 


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