Making the Most of E-Mail: Popular Services, Recent Changes
A Quick Look at Popular E-Mail/Remote Access Services (click for quick list).
E-mail is now such an integral part of daily life at the Institute that it may seem predictable and mundane. A lot goes on behind the scenes, however, to maintain and enhance MIT's e-mail system. Information Systems (IS) supplies the technical expertise, servers, and other infrastructure resources to handle the remarkable flow of e-mail in, across, and out of MIT. IS also responds to customer requests for e-mail service enhancements and to a variety of security issues.
In the last several months, IS has introduced several enhancements and changes to e-mail at MIT. Popular services include spam screening, auto-responder (vacation e-mail reply), a more robust implementation of MIT WebMail, and iPass.
On the security side, IS has established a new policy prohibiting the distribution of executable e-mail attachments, which can unleash viruses and worms, and now supports the use of secure SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) authentication for outgoing mail.
Please note that these services and security measures are provided for mail sent through central, IS-supported mail servers or received by IS-supported post office servers (i.e., po9, po10, po11, po12, or po14) - that is, for mail addressed to and from <email@example.com> (and not, for example, <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>).
New E-Mail Options at Your Service
In response to customer requests, IS has added three e-mail-related services and an Internet access service to its offerings.
Note: The contents of your e-mail are not being changed or blocked. All e-mail sent to you at MIT will be delivered to you, even spam - though you can have spam delivered to a special IMAP folder that you designate. You must configure a filter in your e-mail client or create a specific IMAP mailbox for any filtering to happen. If you do not select either of these options, the only change caused by spam screening will be additional headers in your e-mail.
For more information about setting up spam screening, see http://web.mit.edu/is/services/email/nospam/ .
Activating the auto-responder - which requires an MIT personal certificate - is straightforward. For details, see the Auto-Responder Web page at http://web.mit.edu/is/services/email/autoresponder.html .
You can access MIT's WebMail installation from http://web.mit.edu/webmail/ . This Web page provides links to instructions and an FAQ.
You must register for the iPass service and download and install the iPassConnect client software. For more information, see http://web.mit.edu/is/help/ipass/ .
Recent E-Mail Security Measures
Due to security issues and problems related to spam, IS has changed some of its e-mail practices - and there will likely be more changes to come.
E-mail rejected because of an executable attachment will not be delivered, and a note will be returned to the sender acknowledging that the e-mail was not delivered due to MIT's e-mail operating policy. Distribution of non-executable e-mail attachments, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations, will continue uninterrupted.
Those who need to exchange executable files should consider alternatives, such as file transfer protocol (FTP). IS supports several secure FTP options, and more complete information is available at http://web.mit.edu/is/topics/filetransfer/ . If you need to exchange any executable files through the MIT mail system, you will now first need to package them (by zip, tar, etc.).
The Mail Hub Attachment Filtering page at http://web.mit.edu/services/mail/attachments.html has more information, including a full list of executable extensions that will be filtered.
At some point in the future, members of the MIT community may need to configure their e-mail clients for SMTP authentication. Information Systems has developed a Web page with instructions on how to securely authenticate your outbound e-mail at MIT. It's at http://web.mit.edu/is/topics/email/smtp/ .
The Last Word
For a comprehensive look at the e-mail software, services, and support that IS offers, visit the E-Mail at MIT page at http://web.mit.edu/is/topics/email/ .