Can people get access to read email forwarded to Outlook?

Posted on 2012-09-12
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-09-15
I have an online free email account that I forward to Oulook 2003. This was done to meet an online company's request that you must use ( forward too) Outlook to work over the internet with them.

If I use Outlook 2003 to send an outgoing email..how secure is that? In other words can anyone in the company that required all emails to go through Outlook read or access my outgoing emails?

Question by:dmullis
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Expert Comment

ID: 38390800
"In other words can anyone in the company that required all emails to go through Outlook read or access my outgoing emails?"

I presume you log in to a password protected account, thus unless another person has or hacks your personal password, then no they cannot read or access your outgoing emails.
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Accepted Solution

mark_harris231 earned 1600 total points
ID: 38390967
The description of the circumstances is unclear.

When you say "free email account", I presume you're speaking of something like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo?

You say you are forwarding this account to Outlook 2003.  Do you mean that you forwarding to another (different) email address, or are just using the Outlook client to pull/receive emails sent to your free account (via POP or IMAP or similar)?  (Essentially, localizing your web mail to a PC).

You then are authoring outgoing mail from Outlook 2003 client, which presumably is sending mail from the free accounts mail servers.

If you're asking if anyone can "reach into" your Outlook client and read your outgoing mail, this is a qualified "no".  Technically, if your system was compromised, someone could access your Outlook/outgoing mail, but that doesn't have anything specifically to do with Outlook.

If you're asking if anyone could "reach into" your free account and read your mail, again another qualified "no".  As Michael notes, access should be password-protected.  Conceivably, it might be easier to hack into an online account vs. a remote PC, but not casually as your question seems to indicate.

Lastly, you should be aware that email is inherently vulnerable to interception, but this requires deliberate and illegal intent, and specific hardware and/or software tools.  There isn't anything in your description that suggest your emails should be compromised just based on the setup.

Out of curiousity, what reason did the company give for requiring Outlook?  Are you able to provide a URL for the company in question?  Something about this question isn't quite adding up.
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Assisted Solution

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 38391977
unusual company policy.. this freemail account is is just for personal mail and no business mail at all?  Strictly personal, i'd tell the company to stuff it or wait until I got home to access my personal mail..  What you do on a company computer is owned by the company in most regards.

As for security any administrator in the company can access any information on "YOUR" computer" as it is technically their property and anything created/used on THEIR computer is also their property.

Most email these days uses SSL to transport mail because email while in transit is sent in clear text anyone with a packet sniffer on your network or somewhere in the chain can intercept the email.  Email wasn't designed to be secure, nor was it designed to be a guaranteed method of transmission.  The protocols in use were designed prior to the World Wide Web which is what a lot of people equate the internet to be.  The WWW is just a subset of the internet.
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Expert Comment

ID: 38395853
Are you saying you are forwarding emails that are from a particular website (for example: email@yourwebsite.com) to your outlook (which is set up with a different email)?


Author Comment

ID: 38401440
Thank you for your answers so far.  Mark is on the right track.

I will clarify further. I work for an online company as a contractor from home. One of their requirements is to use Outlook or Outlook Express.  I use a free online email account and forward it to Outlook on my PC.

The reasons for my question are:

1.) Why were we asked to forward to and respond from Outlook software in addition to just directly emailing back and forth from a free online email client?  To have uniform formatting capabilities maybe?


2.) When I worked inside a corporate, brick and mortar environment, we all used Outlook. A colleague sent an email to a few co-workers and it wound up being read by a company VIP 1000 miles away.  In this case, he was using their property; a work station computer inside their offices.

Is Outlook requested as a second step because the company needs a big brother device or just for uniformity in formatting?
LVL 84

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38401493
I'd setup a separate free account to deal with email to/from this company this way you will have an extra safeguard against sending someone at the company something that is NSFW

Their requirement for outlook / outlook express is probably simply conformity, easier for a help desk to support 2 products rather than run the full gamut of email products on the market.

The scenario you mentioned is probably because they were using exchange and/or one of the workers forwarded the message onward.. which of course, a simple search could confirm where the message originated from with precision.

You are safe from interception by the company as long as you do NOT send them an incriminating email.
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Expert Comment

ID: 38401657
@dmullis - I want to clarify something.  Did the online company you work for provide you with an Exchange email address?  (e.g., dmullis@companyname.com).

ve3ofa has some good points around support, but I suspect it is more about having record of any company-related emails, which means that your anything associated with an Exchange account could be accessed by the company.

It may also be that they don't want the company or its representatives using free accounts because of customer perception issues.  There may be some legitimacy/reputation/professionalism concerns with a free account.

As ve30fa indicates, your online mail is free from any oversight beyond whatever mail you send to someone in the company or your customers.  In fact, unless you're using a company-provided email address, the company you work for has no way of knowing what email client you are using.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 38402377
Got it. Thanks Mark and Ve3ofa!

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