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Email security -Hotmail / gmail / yahoo staff  -  how easy for staff to see our emails ?

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Last Modified: 2016-03-23
How easy is it for the likes of gmail / hotmail / yahoo etc. staff to access our emails. I have a client who is reviewing security in many aspects of his life.

If he uses a free email account such as hotmail etc.  Are the hotmail staff able to view his emails if they choose to?
Also I assume without the email being encrypted, any server where the email message passed through can also obtain the content of that email right?

Is this just generally the way it is and therefore all should assume that email, unless encrypted is totally insecure?

Thanks for input
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Sean MeyerIT Director

Commented:
Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo all use secure https connections now.  There are many security measures in place for the privacy of email by any of these companies.  Now if they get a warrant from the feds for your mailbox then theose measures will allow it to be viewed.  Each of those companies relies on trust and if it was easy to enter a mailbox noone would trust them.
Sean MeyerIT Director

Commented:
FYI -- The https is the same type of connection used to connect to your bank.

Author

Commented:
Hi,

Yes I am aware of the HTTPS connection, but I was thinking that the staff are sitting at the server where all the emails are stored. I see the HTTPS link as protecting the link form the web browser to the server. However what about the staff sitting at that server.

Just in the same way I could filter off the email to another account on a company server running ,say exchange, maybe the hotmail staff could.

For example, although I might not have the password for a member of staff in a company I look after who is running exchange, I could easily grant a user who I have access to, rights over that mailbox and view the emails that way without the end user knowing about it.

I was wondering whether the hotmail / gmail staff could do that if they wanted.
Obvioulsy I would assume they woul dbe breaking policy / the law, but could it happen?

Another easy way might be for them to create a forwarding rule for example to filter off all email sent to say, my hotmail address to another email address and there they monitor all emails sent to me.
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Sean MeyerIT Director

Commented:
So for the client just remind them that those services make BILLIONS of dollars off providing free email services and it is going to be one of the most secure methods of accessing a secure email account.  Those services are also spending Hundres of Milliions to Billions on security to make sure they can provide a secure environment to make their money.
Sean MeyerIT Director

Commented:
Will they try to sneak some advertising into your web browser based off some algorithmic analysis of your email?  Probably but that is what is providing the free service.

Author

Commented:
OK thanks. When I'm aksing this question I'm also predicting what questions may be asked of me when I present the solution so I want to be prepared. This is what I pretty much expected and in fact it's going to lead me to conclude that in some ways a hotmail account is more secure then an preivate email account provided by my company, because I could without his knowledge setup something to filter off his email and he would be trusting me on this (of course I would not do this, but it is my duty to report all possibilities). Where as hotmail, even if an enemy of his knew some high up contact within Hotmail, it is still unilkely they would be able to access his email without being found out.

I think this is a fair enough conclusion.
Sean MeyerIT Director
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btanExec Consultant
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Author

Commented:
Thanks for the information on this one. All very useful and appreciated.
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