Help File: A New Verizon E-Mail Policy; An Old Wireless Router

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By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, October 18, 2009

QVerizon sent me an e-mail saying I need to change my mail settings. So instead of asking customers first, they make them do extra work.

ATweaking Internet settings is no fun, but I can't agree with this reader. When it comes to e-mail security, the customer isn't always right and is sometimes irrelevant.

Here, Verizon is trying to close a long-standing hole in its mail system that spammers had exploited to send a gruesome volume of junk e-mail through its servers.

Under new rules, outlined on Verizon's Web site at http://verizon.net/port25, users who want to send mail from a non-Verizon address using a desktop program such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple's Mail will need to adjust one or two options in their mail software. Afterward, they'll still be able to send messages, but their software will use a secured connection to Verizon's mail server.

Because most Verizon subscribers don't fall into that category, this shouldn't be a big deal -- but people on Verizon's message boards have expressed confusion and frustration over the change.

That may be the fault of inadequate explanations by Verizon; it could be blamed on the complexity of some e-mail programs; or it may reflect how rarely many home users check their mail settings. (In this reader's case, Symantec's security software apparently made the problem worse.)

Regardless, customers don't get to vote on this issue, not when one compromised PC can send thousands of spam e-mails through an open server.

I just replaced my computer; should I upgrade the five-year-old wireless router next to it?

If your Wi-Fi network's coverage and speed still suffice, the only reason to upgrade is if the router doesn't support a newer, more reliable form of encryption called WPA, short for Wi-Fi Protected Access. (I've got a six-year-old router at home that still seems to be doing fine.)

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.


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