E-Mail Notes

It is almost impossible to stop someone from intercepting your e-mail.

What seems to happen.

  • You open your computer's E-mail program.

  • You type in a quick note to your friend

  • You click send.

  •  It disappears off your computer.

  • Your friends mail program pops up a mail notice

  • They open their mail program.

  • They read it

  • They click ok and its gone.

  • Written - sent - read- deleted.

  • Straight from your machine to theirs right? - WRONG

What really happens:

  • Your machine first sends it to your email network server

Most servers keep a copy for at least for 24 hours, (Some forever. It depends on the sysops attitude and his value of disk space).

  • Your network server then sends it out to the "Internet" with TO: and FROM: Internet addresses on it.


The machines along the Internet read the TO: address, if it is not their address they send it along to the next machine - kind of like the old pony express riders passing off the mail bag.

  • Quite simply - The Internet is just a lot of computers that "forward" stuff.

The machines along the way can copy mail before passing it along. Copies of the copy can then be forwarded to ANYBODY with an E-Mail address ANYWHERE on the Internet. Depending on the exact route (and a lot of other complicated stuff.) machines "near" yours can also be instructed to listen in on the network traffic going by and COPY it. Just like the old party line telephones - anybody on the "line" could (and sometimes did) listen in.

  • When the mail gets to your friend's email server, it stores a copy.

The server holds it until it is asked for. )Most servers keep a copy for at least for 24 hours, (Some forever. Again - the sysops attitude and his value of disk space).

  • Your friends computer contacts the server and asks fo rmail.

Once again the machines "near" yours can also be instructed to listen in on the network traffic going by and copy it.

  • The server sends it to their computer and it gets stored it in the mail folder.

 Once your computer sneds the "OK got it to the server the server clears the mail from the server (sort of)

  • a Mail Alert message pops-up.

  • They click on the message and it pops up

  • They read and delete it

They may be deleting it but: Is it really gone?

Programers and sysops are packrats. They want to keep everything, forever. ALL of them have deleted something permanently only to find a critical need for it developed afterwards (usually immediately afterwards) Sooooo.... if they are not out of space - they save everything. Most systems, are backed up at least once every 24 hours. So even if they don't save the file permenantly it is likely to be on a backup tape somewhere. Do the math:


  E-mail servers save a copy for 24 hours .


  Each server is backuped every 24 hours.


  A copy of your E-Mail is on the backup.


  Your server sends, theirs receives


  2 permanent copies around to embarrass you latter.


When you delete a file in Windows it doesn't really delete but is moved to your recycle bin. Ah hah you say but I emptied the bin its gone! - Not so. It still exists, in fact you can get programs for free that will recover these files very easily. (The only time I have ever have problems with them is when I really needed the data back). In order to really get rid of something you must make the machine physically change the disk drive by wirtting to the space used by the files. This is known as wiping the disks . This leaves you pretty certain its gone. There is one last thing that can be done to recover deleted and wiped files - using sophisticated magnetic differentials several generations of wipes can still be read. (Or you can do what I do with old drives - take em apart and see how they work.

Jurrasic Bob Guarantee -

If the Subject Line sounds really interesting - the Sysop has read the E-Mail.
(The definition of "really interesting" includes any reference to the sysop or their department)
(My E-Mails are always complimentary about the tech guys. I like my computer to work )


  • E-Mail (both internal and external) is considered a "document".

  • Documents can be subpeonaed.

  • Ergo - E-Mail can be subpeonaed.

  • It will be subpeonaed in a lawsuit.

  • It will be read by someone who was pissed off enough to sue you.

  • You figure the rest.

  • Delete these after the lawsuit and your looking at a contempt charge.

Your E-Mail may be read by somebody you did not intend to see it.

 If you can't live with that: Don't send E-Mail.

But probably not. Lets face it - if your E-mail is about watering the petunias; not too many people will care, you included. However if it's your latest and greatest new product design, that's a different matter. Then you need to "hide the message" or encrypt it



Notes on Attachments

Notes on Netiquette

It is almost impossible to stop someone from intercepting your e-mail.

The only thing you can do is to make it hard for them to read it. This is done by mixing up the information in the E-Mail. If both of you know how it was mixed - you can mix it up and the receiver the uses the opposite method to un-mix it. This is known as Encryption. However, the TO: and the FROM: can still be read. (otherwise how would the computers on the Internet know where to forward it to?). There is a way around this - Anonymizers - you send it to a middleman he removes your FROM address and replaces it with his FROM and then sends it along. To the receiver it appears that it came from the Anonymizer's computer. (This can also be "hacked")

The simplest method that I have found is what is known as double key encryption. The method for mixing up the massage is based upon the relationship between two numbers. If you know both numbers the message can be un-mixed.