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Overview of Email Protocols

Support: Basics: Email Protocols

To start off, we'll discuss receiving email.

Our email service can receive email in both regular POP3 and POP3S formats. POP stands for Post Office Protocol, and the POP3 protocol is supported by nearly every email client (program). This means that you can use whatever email client you like best to retrieve your Cotse.Net email (such as Eudora, Outlook Express, etc.). On our site, we provide you with step-by-step directions how to set up your email client to retrieve your Cotse.Net email into your own mail client.

The POP3S protocol is a more secure version of POP3. It allows you to retrieve email using high encryption, so you are protected from those who would snoop on you. You do not need to do the encryption yourself; it is applied automatically by simply using this protocol. Our service offers the POP3S protocol in two versions: POP3S and POP3S STARTTLS. The "STARTTLS" stands for "Transport Layer Security protocol," a protocol that was developed to allow client/server applications to communicate over the Internet without eavesdropping, tampering, or message forgery.

Because we offer POP3, POP3S, and POP3S START TLS options, your favorite mail client should work fine with our service. But retrieving email with your favorite mail client isn't much good without being able to send it. So let's turn to protocols for sending email.

Our email service can send email in SMTP, SMTPS, and SMTP with STARTTLS. SMTP stands for "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol." and is the protocol used to send email by most of the popular email clients. On our site, we provide you with step-by-step directions how to set up your email client to send your Cotse.Net email from your own mail client using these protocols.

Given these choices between plain SMTP, SMTPS, and SMTPS START TLS, it may feel a bit overwhelming or confusing, so it may be helpful for you to understand why your selection of mail protocol type is so important -- regardless of whether you use Cotse.Net or any other email service or ISP. We will explain the importance of your selection in terms of sending email: 

While plain SMTP is useful because it sends your mail and is supported by nearly all email clients, it poses a significant privacy and security risk, because your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and others along the way can easily read the e-mail you send. Using SMTP as your sending protocol is comparable to sending a postcard. And one of the most important pieces of information that you will reveal when you send email by plain SMTP is your IP (Internet Protocol) address.

If you're not familiar with IP addresses, think of it this way: just as you have a unique postal mail address, your computer also has a unique IP address when it communicates over the Internet. Your IP address is automatically assigned to you by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Some providers issue you a "dynamic" IP address, i.e., one that changes every time you connect to the Internet or periodically. Other providers may assign you a "static" IP address, which doesn't change. If you have a "static" IP, it is convenience for some things, but poses a greater risk in terms of your security and privacy when you surf the web, send email, or chat online, because anyone who gets your IP will actually be able to figure out your approximate geographic location. They will also be able to try to access your machine or hack into it for malicious purposes.

Thus, it is very important to your security and privacy that you protect your IP address when you are online, and using our SMTP will help you protect your IP number when you send mail -- as well as the ability to send encrypted to protect the contents of your email from prying eyes along the way.

Both SMTPS and SMTPS START TLS create an encrypted tunnel for your mail as you send it (encryption converts plain text to code). When you send your mail via SMTPS or SMTP START TLS, your ISP can't see what's inside the tunnel. They may be able to see that there is something being sent, but they won't see the contents.

By offering both STARTTLS and SMTPS options, Cotse.Net is compatible with the two popular protocols, so your favorite email client or program should be able to use our service with high encryption.

We also offer all of the above on alternate ports, which may or may not be important to you, depending on your ISP's setup. Although most services use Port 25 for sending email, some services have started blocking people's ability to send email via anything other than the service's own mail server. In other words, if you have an Internet account with a company that has this type of restriction, all of your outbound mail would necessarily reveal your ISP's name and your IP. This information would be automatically stamped into your outgoing mail as part of the message header. Your ISP would show up in the message-id that the recipient could see (e.g., "message-id: 20040529gb3f4g5@yourisp.com" reveals the name of your ISP, and your IP would appear in the path of the header). You won't see any of this information in your compose window as you create or send your email, but the recipient or your email can see if they look at the header of your email message.

By offering our services on other ports as well those that may be blocked by your provider, we enable you to work around their restrictions and exercise your right to privacy.

All of the above descriptions pertain to receiving and sending email via your own favorite desktop email client. You always have the option to use our webmail interface for receiving and sending email. By using the Secure Login page, your outgoing email will be encrypted with no additional settings or action on your part: simply compose your email and hit 'send.' Your IP and real ISP domain name will be protected from prying eyes -- unless, of course, you choose to use your real ISP name or account information as your email identity.

For yet additional protection from potentially prying eyes, you can add in another layer of protection by using PGP (Pretty Good Encryption. Using PGP is often a bit overwhelming for those who are not technically savvy, but your Cotse.Net account does enable you to integrate it if you set download PGP, install it, and configure it to work with your webmail or favorite desktop client.


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