Yahoo announced late last Thursday that an undisclosed number of e-mail accounts were compromised in a cyber-hack coordinated through a compromised third party. Although Jay Rossiter, a senior vice president at Yahoo, said in a statement that the company implemented “additional measures” to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future, the breach raises a number of concerns regarding the security of free email services.
The Cost of Free Email
Web-based email services like Yahoo! and Gmail may be free in the monetary sense, but they still come at a price. In recent years security breaches of such services have increased, leaving users and their information vulnerable.
Possibly the most worrying factor about free email services is that several provide data to third-parties. While Yahoo noted in their announcement that a third-party database was the source of the hack, it is unknown whether it was a third-party database like Facebook, which allows account holders to user their Yahoo email as party of their log-in information, or if it was a database they provide information to.
The Fine Print
Have you read the fine print on your email provider’s Terms of Service? There are a few additions you may not be aware of:
“When you upload or other submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations and other changes we make so that you content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”
“We collect or receive information about your interactions with AOL. Registering with AOL is optional and we may collect information even if you do not register. Depending on how you use AOL’s Services, your AOL information may include: …personal financial information, information about the searches you perform, transaction-related information….”
“We provide the information to trusted partners who work on behalf of or with Yahoo under confidentiality agreements. These companies may use your personal information to help Yahoo communicate with you about offers from Yahoo and our marketing partners.”
Such policies are disconcerting for businesses and their employees, whose emails often contain sensitive and confidential information.
The MARION Solution
As part of our integrated marketing solutions, MARION offers email hosting sites to all clients. Our hosting services feature a self-managed cloud-hosting server and immediate customer service. All email applications are backed-up every night and stored on a different server for an added level of security. Usually most email accounts and lost emails can be immediately restored if necessary.
Marion also offers an upgraded spam filter to our clients that have difficult spam issues. The product is Symantec Cloud Spam Assassinator. This add-on has a one-time set up fee and then a minimal monthly charge for each email box.
Additionally, Marion’s email hosting services provide a level of protection not offered by free e-mail applications. Marion’s hosting server and backup is protected by a Juniper SSG-5 Firewall, which can shield your emails from hackers and other suspicious behavior. Unlike some free email providers, we do not provide data to third party services, keeping your sensitive information safe.
If you’re concerned about the security issues that afflict free email providers, contact MARION today to learn more about our e-mail hosting services.