Access Email From Another Location

You're expecting an important personal email, and you're at work. So how do you access your email from another location like your office? In fact one of the most common questions I get asked is: How do I access my outlook express email (IncrediMail email) from work?

Understanding Email Basics

To understand how you go about this, you first need to understand the basics of email. Email functions, in fact, very much like the normal mail system. The process for both standard physical mail and email are:

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Physical Mail:

1. Mail is placed into postal system by sender. 2. Mail is transferred between sorting offices. 3. Mail is delivered to the Local post office of recipient and placed in his post office box. 4. Receiver goes to Post office opens post box and takes mail home. 5. Receiver sits at home and reads mail.

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1. Mail is placed into email system by sender (using email client) 2. Mail is transferred between email servers. 3. Mail is delivered to the recipient's email provider's server and placed in his mailbox. 4. The Email client (e.g. outlook express) connects to server and transfers email from the email server to the local client and deletes it from server (default behaviour). 5. The Receiver reads email that is now stored on his local PC. See Mailbox and mailbox locations for more details.

Normally you would go to the post office and collect your mail and bring it back home. The mail would now be stored in your house. But you could go to your post box read your mail and then put it back in the post box (i.e. not take them with you) .

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If you did that then, some else could then come at a later time and read the same mail. This we can also do in the email world. In the email world most email clients use a protocol called POP3 to get the email from the local email server and move it to your mailbox on your local machine. Basically this is the same behaviour as in the physical mail.

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But we can tell the email client to leave a copy of the messages on the email server, and so we can then access the same email again from another location using another email client.

So it is possible to access your email from multiple locations by simply leaving a copy of your email on the email server. Leaving Email on the email server has a number of advantages.

Stephen cope is a freelance technical trainer and the webmaster of several websites. You can get more email, Outlook Express and IncrediMail tips and advise at IncrediMail and Outlook Express Updates.

Remote Access to Your Computer

Access Your Home Computer via the Internet

Yes, and you can do more than just access your files. There are several tools that allow you full access and remote control of your computer over the Internet. If you have access to a computer with Internet access, you can log in to your home or office computer using a web browser.

You can view the desktop and use the mouse or keyboard to launch programs, open files or play a game. It's just as if you were sitting in front of the remote computer. If you're in the same room as the "remote" PC, you can watch the mouse cursor moving around on the screen, see new windows open and close, etc. Tres cool!

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I like and use the LogMeIn service because it's free and secure. There are extra features you can try that require a paid account, but the basic remote desktop service is really free. Once you get it set up, poke around in the options to learn how to automatically blank the host screen (so nobody can watch your activity) and lock the host console when you disconnect.

There's another very similar service, called GotoMyPC, but it costs US$20 per month to use. I was happily shelling out money each month for GotoMyPC, until I discovered LogMeIn! Symantec's pcAnywhere product offers remote desktop access, but costs about US$200 -- ouch! And if you have Windows XP Professional Edition, there's a feature called Remote Desktop which offers similar functionality. But the upgrade from XP Home to XP Pro costs about $100, so it may require some up-front investment, and I've heard that making it work can be a challenge even for experienced users.

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Reprinted from:

BOB RANKIN... is a tech writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and sharing the fruit of his experience with others. His work has appeared in ComputerWorld, NetGuide, and NY Newsday. Bob is publisher of the Internet TOURBUS newsletter, author of several computer books, and creator of the website. Visit Bob Rankin's website for more helpful articles and free tech support.

Remote Network Access

With Remote Network Access, your computer becomes just another citizen on the network. You can access the servers just as if you were on the local network, except the response is slower. Sometimes much, much slower. This network access can be by telephone line and modem, or by Internet through a router.

The user communities requiring Remote Network Access range from people who only need access to their e-mail and the corporate Web portal from their family PC, to the full-time telecommuters who need to use core applications from the office network wherever they are, and some customers and vendors.

Companies usually don't have too much trouble justifying high-end solutions for the full-time telecommuters by providing them with a company-owned computer, firewall and 24x7 help desk access, since these users depend upon remote access for all their work. But sometimes it becomes difficult for them to effectively and affordably support the lower-end needs of other users, due to the security issues of the network.

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One solution to prevent security threats is to implement a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN ensures a degree of security for the remote users accessing the network. There are various other emerging tools and applications, such as Cisco security agent and Trend Micro's network virus wall, that can be used to protect the network from unwanted viruses and unsecured devices. However, implementing solutions such as this can be costly and adds another technology to the task list of the administrator.

The bottom line when it comes to Remote Network Access seems to be due diligence combined with enough knowledge and strict policy. Allowing other networks and individuals to connect to your network is virtually unavoidable. All that you need is to ensure that you exercise the appropriate level of caution and pay close attention to that back door. If all of your fingers are already in use it's time to stick a toe in the Remote Network Access "leak in the dike."

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Remote Email Access

The advancement of wireless technology has brought the world together, with easy and convenient access to information, whenever we need and wherever we are. Remote Email Access is one example of the flexibility provided by the remote access technology. Remote Email Access gives the user the ability to access, receive and send emails wherever he or she is located.

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There are two approaches to Remote Email Access, depending on how conveniently and frequently you can access the computer. In case you have a computer at your disposal than the POP approach best works, but if you are dependent on a cyber café, than you may prefer web access instead.

POP stands for post office protocol and is the way real email systems work. To access your mail using POP, you need to access a POP server that verifies your username and password before granting you access to your emails. Once the mail is downloaded on your system, it is deleted from the POP server. You can access these mails even when you are offline. To access your mails through POP, you would use email client software such as Eudora, Pegasus or Outlook, or the email component of a web browser suite such as Outlook Express or Netscape Messenger.

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An alternative way to access mails is to use a web browser such as MS Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator or Opera to visit a web site, than you need to sign in with a user id and password, and then read your mail online. The biggest advantage of web access is that you can check your mails through any computer that has a web browser installed. The only disadvantage is that you have to be online all the time while checking, receiving or sending mails.

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Thus, you can use either of the two options according to your convenience and access and exchange your mails with your boss, friends or relatives, wherever you are.

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How To Get Cheap Internet Access

What is the best way for you to get cheap internet access that still suits the needs of people like me? Getting access to the internet in today's world is almost a necessity. I know I could never live without my internet access. At the same time, though, if you are like me you don't want to spend a fortune on your internet. Getting cheap internet access is possible. You just need to know where to look and how to get it.

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Whether it is the purchase of cheap internet access or anything else, you need to first assess your needs. How much time are you going to be spending on line? How often will you need to log on and how fast do you need to get on once you get to your computer? These are questions you need to ask yourself so that when you go looking for cheap internet access you will know what you need to look for. Cheap is relative and will depend on what your needs are. For instance, you can certainly find a cheaper internet connection that is dial up and pay by the minute than if you need a high speed connection. Once you have figured out what you need out of your cheap internet connection, you can move on to your search.

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Ironically, the best place to look for cheap internet access is on the internet. In order to start your search, find a connection somewhere. Check your local library or university to get on line and begin looking. Go to your favorite search engine and type in "cheap internet access" and see what comes up. Start sifting through the top sites and see if anything tickles your fancy in the way of service and price. If you know you need high speed connection, or want dial up, or some other specific need put that in your search as well to get the services more specific to your immediate needs.

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The second thing you can do is check for local internet service providers. Many local providers offer cheap internet access that will have a local connection. With a local company you may have better access to tech support or customer service should you have a problem with your cheap internet access. The other place you should probably check is with local schools and businesses who may offer cheap internet access on the side in order to offset server prices. It may be a bit of a long shot, but you may be surprised how many businesses offer cheap internet access, but don't advertise that they have it.

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Finding internet access, and maybe even cheap internet access, is almost a necessity today. We communicate through email, research on websites, and seek out old friends on alumni message boards. Each time, though, we have to get on line first without breaking the bank. Cheap internet access is obtainable you just have to know what you are doing. Figure out what your needs are then begin with an online search. Also, check out local service providers and businesses to see if they offer cheap internet access to the public. Once you have done that, you will have your internet before you know it.

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Broadband Access Through Cable

Broadband access through cable

Broadband is defined as a mode of data transmission, where multiple data packets are sent simultaneously to increase the effective rate of transmission.Intelligent use of your TV cable has lead to the emergence of cable broadband. This technology works by making use of the unused bandwidth in your CAT V cable. As the cost of networking is eliminated, cable broadband is one of the cheapest ways to log on to the internet.

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Advantages of cable modem:

- Cheaper as compared to other broadband technologies - Doesn't use your phone line in any way - No dial-up procedures to be followed - Unlike ADSL, signal strength not a variable of distance - Reliable - Optimum speeds

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All you would require to avail, these benefits is a cable modem; this modem will act as your gate way to the cable company's network. Connect your PC to the modem which in turn will log you on to World Wide Web.

Disadvantages of cable modem:

The main limitation is its reach; areas not covered by CATV network are also deprived of this cheap service. The other disadvantage being that the signal strength depends on the number of people logged on to the network, as more the people more the bandwidth required and with a cable that surely is limited.

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Network Security

Security is an essential part of maintaining any network and is the primary focus for a network administrator. While most people think that the main focus of a network administrator is to ensure that users can access data and other resources needed to perform their job functions, they don't realize the work and attention needed to make certain all data is secure.

End users are happy as long as they get the data they need and don't have to jump through hoops to get to it. Account names and requiring passwords only serve to keep honest people honest. There are many ways to compromise an account's security and any decent hacker usually knows more tricks of the trade than the network administrator. The use of authentication services and/or Biometrics can improve security, but only to a certain degree.

If you're responsible for a small operation, network security cannot be compromised. Hackers don't discriminate; they're looking for sensitive corporate or financial data that they can exploit. Customer and clients don't discriminate; they're entitled to the same service and reliability that they would get from a large corporation.

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When it comes to protecting your network, there is no room for compromise. You must block any and all threats flowing around the Internet. Especially look for viruses and other forms of malware that can compromise your network and end-user systems, which could lead to data loss and expensive downtime. Spam clogs up inboxes and e-mail servers that cost businesses billions of dollars each year. Spyware and network intrusions are designed and targeted to steal valuable information from specific companies which can impact revenue and a company's reputation. Plishing attacks exploit user habits to steal personal information.

Everyday security threats are being modified and refined, as hackers new conduits such as instant messaging, peer-to-peer connections, and wireless networks to deliver their attacks. In my opinion, the biggest headache for small businesses is the misuse of the Internet by employees. If a user visits an inappropriate site, sends or receives inappropriate content, or worse, violates confidentiality and leaks client information or company secrets, legal liability action is sure to follow. End user education needs to be top priority for all network administrators.

Insiders aren't the most common security problem, but they can be among the most damaging to a company's reputation. Insider attacks against IT infrastructure are among the security breaches most feared by both government and corporate security professionals. If an employee is terminated, it's crucial that all system access be revoked immediately. About half of all insider attacks take place between the time an IT employee is dismissed and their user privileges are taken away. I was in a situation where a co-worker was dismissed because of poor work performance. The IT manager arranged for all user privileges to be terminated immediately after the employee was informed of his termination. He was allowed to remove personal items from his office and computer, but was supervised the entire time. There was a tremendous amount of planning involved to coordinate this, but it work effectively.

When it comes to current employees, IT managers must keep an eye out for insubordination, anger over perceived mistreatment, or resistance to sharing responsibility or training colleagues, which are all signs someone may be capable of system sabotage or data theft. IT managers must be watchful any time someone with access to sensitive systems has a falling out with his or her bosses.

Defending against insiders isn't easy, but knowing what to look for and understanding who you're up against certainly helps. Managers must not only monitor system access, but also let employees know their system changes can be tracked. Employers should be wary of people unwilling to share their knowledge about systems or uncomfortable with the fact that their activities accessing systems or data can be tracked.

There are six basic security rules for Windows systems that can apply for all systems. If a network administrator follows the basic principles that will be discussed here, they can feel confident that their systems are protected.

First, the manager should be segment the network into areas of trust and provide specific controls at border areas. A basic firewall can filter access to services, and a more advanced system can inspect traffic and can detect that it is harmful. Things as simple as blocking access to TCP port 1433 and TCP port 1434 at the border firewall, allowing Internet access only to those SQL systems that must be accessed from the Internet, and patching the SQL systems could prevent viruses or worms from infecting a network.

Systems are sometimes left unpatched because there are so many to patch. Focusing efforts on the most vulnerable points will most likely achieve adequate coverage. You can find a list of the most frequently probed ports used by Windows systems at Not all of the ports listed are used by Windows but you can make sure they are filtered at the firewall. You can also set a standard to block all ports and then unblock only the ports needed. Another good practice is to determine the open ports to ensure that they are legitimately needed.

Second, moderate the effect of spoofed ports and increasing use of port 80 by new services. The most common open port is of course port 80, so attacks directed at a web server will not be stopped by a common firewall. If a needed port is blocked, applications such as instant messaging, and streaming media will automatically use the open port. Trojans can be designed to listen on any port and can be specially designed to look like web traffic. Preventing overuse and misuse can be accomplished by using an application-layer firewall, ensure that a port is open only for specific servers, and configure systems at the host level with port filtering or IPSec blocking policies that can be set to block known troublesome ports.

Third, everyone agrees that the number one thing that you can do to improve security on a network is to keep patches current. Over ninety percent of systems that have been attacked could have been prevented if known vulnerabilities had been diminished via patches and configuration. Patching plans can be developed and used with enormous benefits. Some ways to mitigate patches are: manually, by downloading the patch, testing and applying it to a system, visiting the Windows Update Site to review the available patches, then deciding to accept or reject any proffered changes. Automatic updates can be configured to periodically connect to Microsoft for inspection and downloading of updates. Software Update Service is a free server application that when configured the system will periodically download patches from Microsoft. Microsoft Systems Management Server with update is purchased separately from Windows operating system and provides multiple management services. And, third-party patching products are available that can provide similar services.

Strengthening authentication processes can also help to secure your network. Authentication can be increased by enforcing a strong password policy. Use some other form of authentication along with this. Use technology and physical security to protect password databases and authentication material. Also you must understand that Windows authentication systems vary, and backward compatibility means less secure authentication may be used even by the most recent version of the operating system. One very important issue is to recognize that your network is only as secure as the least secure part.

Fourth, limit the number of administrators and limiting their privileges can help to secure a network. Don't automatically give admin rights to the local PC unless there are applications that require it to run needed processes. In most cases administrative rights can be substituted with just elevated or privileged rights. Users with admin rights should be educated about not using that account to read email or surf the Internet. Instead, they should be given an ordinary account for those purposes.

Fifth, protecting systems against known attacks by means of system configurations is not a simple process. It requires knowing about past attacks and current vulnerabilities, and having an extensive knowledge of operating systems. To benefit from your configuration settings, you should not install IIS except to create an intranet or Internet web server. Don't configure non-file servers to use File and Printer Sharing. Set strong permissions on Windows shares. (Use shares sparingly) Don't allow anonymous access into your systems. You should also disable any Windows services, such as Telnet, Alerter, and Clipbook, (doe's anyone use these?) Indexing services, Messenger, and Remote registry, that is not necessary.

Last, but not least I can't stress enough the importance of developing and enforcing security policies by ways of accountability, technology and user training. The best knowledge anyone can have on security can not protect your systems if it not used. Security policies should be enforced by more than technology and fully supported by management People make security work. People support the development of culture of security, and people follow the rules because they understand them and because they are aware of the consequences. Train your users, let them know the rules, and hold them accountable.

The best laid plans will not stand if you can't afford the resources or the support of implementing them. A crucial problem a network administrator faces is the cost of security. Security control mechanisms have expenses associated with their purchases. Deployment, maintenance, and implementing these systems in a redundant manner can increase costs significantly. When deciding on redundancy and security controls, it is helpful to create a number of scenarios in which a security breach or and outage occurs to determine the corporation's cost for each occurrence. This should help management determine the value to the corporation of an assortment of security control mechanisms. (3) End users are that part, so anything done to strengthen it can have a huge effect on the baseline security of your systems.

Another thing to keep in mind is that user education is only effective to a point. No amount of education can eliminate careless mistakes or stop a disgruntled employee from violating a policy. Security technologies like encryption and digital right management software can act like seat-belt laws to help computer users from hurting themselves. Some steps to prevent data loss is to guard against human error by using data encryption as a safety net for honest mistakes. All laptop hard drives should be encrypted. Monitor outgoing messages. Use software to block e-mail messages or file transfers with confidential data. Ensure that security is easy to use or employees will find ways to get around it. Audit security practices on a regular basis.

If these steps are taken to prevent data loss, then a company can at least know that credibility with their customers is preserved.

Network Basics

When dealing with networks one has to understand the different types and how they are used along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

A mesh network allows for redundancy in that if one node goes down all terminals are able to still communicate with other terminals and networks by taking several possible paths. The mesh network will be more complex and time consuming to install, but is also the more reliable than other topologies. If each terminal having reliable connectivity is mission critical, the knowledge is available and cost is not really a factor then a mesh would be the preferred network.

Bus topology is probably the least preferred topology to implement. If one node is removed or non-operational on the bus then all terminals will not be able to utilize the network. According to Annabel Dodd (2005) "Prior to hubs, each device in a LAN was wired to another device in a "bus" arrangement."(p. 26) Circumstances that may play a factor in this use of this particular topology would be cost savings in regards to cable and the importance of that particular network to the department's mission, as well as the network's size as well as security. Required speed, number of attachments, cable length, and use play a factor in determining the use of the bus topology. Bates & Gregory (2000) tell us that bus speed is limited to "10Mbits/s with effective throughput of 3.3-4 Mbits/s" and that attachments cannot exceed "1024 addressable nodes" and are "limited to cable lengths of 1500 meters." They continue on to say that "collisions when the network gets 40% busy, resulting in less throughput." It seems that the bus topology is also the least secure in respect to the fact that all transmissions are a broadcast to the entire network.

The star topology is another network architecture. Circumstances to install this type of network would be similar to those of the bus topology. The star topology would be primarily used with hubs and switches. This topology allows for all terminals to continually communicate on the network when a terminal is dropped or goes down. This type of topology is important when connectivity of each terminal in the network is important and is mission critical to operations.

Combinations of all the various topologies will be seen in MAN, WAN, and even some larger LANs. An example would be a college campus in which each department uses a star topology internally, but meshes with all the other outlying departments. So in the case of a college campus all departments would still be able to access records from other departments on campus when one or more departments lose connectivity.