The Security and Maintenance of Messages in Outlook Express by Team uCertify

With the excessive use of e-mail and e-commerce, the amount of confidential information being exchanged over the Internet has been growing at a rapid pace. As a result, the need to ensure the integrity, security, and privacy of e-mail messages is becoming an essential part of the corporate world. As the use of ActiveX controls, scripts and Java applets, and other special features in the messages is increasing day by day, there is an increased chance that such messages could access or modify files on the user's computer without his knowledge.

Outlook Express includes several tools that protect the unauthorized users from accessing the electronic data, thereby increasing the privacy and integrity of the e-mail messages. The tools provided by Outlook Express allow a user to send and receive secure e-mail more securely and control the potentially unsafe e-mail messages through security zones.

Outlook Express allows a user to read and send e-mail messages, sort and store messages on the local drive or e-mail server, create and edit contacts in the Address Book, and many more.

Some of the important features of Outlook Express are described below as follows:

Security Zones

Security zones are an effective way of securing the Internet. Security zones provide advanced protection for a user's computer and his privacy. The Security zones feature allows a user to control whether scripts and active content can be downloaded and run in messages received. It is a system that allows a user or a system administrator to divide the websites into different groups depending upon the Web content a browser can visit. This Web content may be an HTML file, a graphic file, an ActiveX control, a Java applet, or an executable file.

There are four security zones in Internet Explorer: Intranet, Local Intranet, Trusted Sites, and Restricted Sites. Each of the four zones has four default security levels: High, Medium, Medium-Low, and Low. These security levels determine the type of content that can be downloaded and run.

A user or an administrator can customize the settings for any of the security zones. Outlook Express enables a user or an administrator to choose which zone his incoming e-mail is in: either the Internet zone or the Restricted Sites zone.

Digital IDs

A Digital ID, also called a certificate, verifies the identity of a person who has sent the messages over the Internet. A Digital ID allows a user or administrator to sign his e-mail, so that the intended recipients can be assured that the message has actually come from the specified person and has not been manipulated in any way.

A user needs to associate his digital ID with the e-mail account before sending the signed e-mail. For this, he will have to click the Tools menu, click Accounts, select the account, click Properties, and then click the Security tab, and select the Use a digital ID check box when sending secure messages, and then click Digital ID. Now he will have to select the digital ID he wants to associate with this account.

After getting a digital ID, a user can send secure e-mail. Outlook Express allows a user to send secure e-mail over the Internet by encrypting the messages. Encrypting e-mail that a person sends ensures that no one except the intended recipient is able to read the contents of the message while it is on the way. When other users want to send a person an encrypted e-mail, they need the person's digital ID.

Outlook Express also allows a user to send his digital ID to others. It is the first e-mail program that allows a user to retrieve digital IDs via directory services. Since Outlook Express uses the S/MIME standard, other people can read secure e-mail that a user composes. Similarly, a user can read messages composed by other people by using e-mail programs that support S/MIME technology.

Outlook Express can also be configured to allow or restrict a user from opening or saving attachments sent by the other persons. A user can find all these on the Security tab page of the Options dialog box.

Outlook Express is also integrated with Internet Explorer. It provides the most effective features that help to a great extent to communicate online from the desktop. It contains services to read and send e-mail messages, browse and post within newsgroups, sort and store messages.

Some of the frequently used Outlook Express maintenance features are as follows:

It facilitates browsing the messages quickly and easily. Using the message list and preview pane, a user can view a list of messages and read individual messages at the same time. The Folders list contains e-mail folders, news servers, and newsgroups, and a user can easily switch among them.

He can also create new folders to organize and sort messages. He can set up several messaging rules for the e-mail messages. A messaging rule is a condition-based action specified by the user so that incoming e-mail automatically behaves as per the criteria defined by the user for the messages.

If a message matches more than one specified criteria, it is sorted according to the first one it matches. It allows keeping a user's e-mail on a server. A user can read, store, and organize his e-mail messages from the server without downloading them on his computer if IMAP e-mail server for incoming e-mails is used. In this way, he or she can view messages from any computer that can connect to that server.

Outlook Express can be configured in a way so as to allow a user to read the messages from the server even if messages have been deleted from the computer. Storing messages on the server is very useful in a situation when a user wants to access messages from two different locations. A user can also set duration up to which the messages can be kept on the server before deleting them.

It provides HTML support. This feature allows users to send and receive messages in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) format. HTML messages include graphics, hyperlinks, and multimedia files. Outlook Express allows users to embed images in their messages so that the recipients need not be connected to the Internet or intranet to view the embedded images.

It supports multiple accounts. Outlook Express allows its users to create andeasily maintain multiple e-mail and news accounts. When users check new e-mail messages, they can specify to check all accounts or just a specific one. Similarly, a user can choose an account for sending the messages when he is composing a message.

It allows personalizing e-mail and news messages. Personalizing e-mail and news messages is a unique feature of Outlook Express. A user can personalize his e-mail and news messages by composing them using stationery. Stationery is a combination of graphics, font styles, colors, and background images that appear in a message.

A user can choose a default stationery for both e-mail and news messages. This stationary will automatically be used when the user composes messages. A user can also apply any stationery to a message after having composed it by using the Apply Stationery option.

With Outlook Express stationery, a user can easily create messages with personalized background images, graphics, and fonts. A user can include a business card, stationery fonts and backgrounds for making his messages more attractive. He can also change the color and style of the text. All these features are present and can be configured on the Compose tab page of the Options dialog box, which is accessed from the Tools menu.

It allows cleaning up messages in an efficient way. Outlook Express provides several options to cleanup e-mail messages. A user can efficiently maintain the messages by using the options in an appropriate manner that are found in the Maintenance tab page of the Options dialog box. Outlook Express allows a user to maintain messages in the most effective and efficient way.

It provides various options to clean up the messages sent. A user can also change the location of the message store, and clean up the downloaded messages on a computer. He can also configure Outlook Express to conditionally delete and compact messages.

It provides Address Book for storing and retrieving e-mail addresses. Outlook Express allows a user to save names and addresses in the Address Book automatically. Address books are used for storing contact information such as name, address phone number, e-mail address, etc.

A user can use these address books for quickly sending e-mails to different people over the Internet. Users can also import and export messages, and the address books. Importing and exporting address books provide a good method for backing up and restoring Outlook Express.

It allows viewing newsgroup conversations efficiently. Outlook Express allows a user to view a newsgroup message and all of the responses without reading an entire message list. When a user views a list of messages, he can expand and collapse conversations to simplify finding the most needed information. Using Outlook Express, a user can also use views to display only some of the messages that he wants to read.

It allows downloading newsgroup messages for offline reading. Outlook Express also allows a user to download messages or newsgroups. It also provides a choice to compose messages offline, and download only message headers for offline viewing. Outlook Express downloads the complete message text when the user connects to the Internet the next time. He can also compose messages offline and send them the next time he reconnects.

It provides multiple pane view. One unique feature of Outlook Express is the multi-pane view. This view allows a user to see all the folders, their contents, preview the messages, and drag and drop messages in a single window. The preview pane allows a user to view the required messages quickly without opening them. A user can also customize the views in different ways by using the Layout option of the View menu.

By using Outlook Express, a user can also send Web pages or links to Web pages to another user while composing messages.

In addition to the above-described features, there are many more features that Outlook Express provides to its users. It is for this reason that Outlook Express is the most preferred e-mail client for most of the users throughout the world.

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