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Secure Email & Website Hosting Services -- Internet security is an important issue for personal and small business websites. It should be effective, easy to set up and maintain, and inexpensive.  Our cable Internet service changed hands twice in three years (excite @ home to AT&T to Comcast). In addition to security issues, a person or small business does not have to worry about losing their ISP based website and email addresses and starting over if they have an independent domain name and email and/or website hosting service. As a small business whose site focuses on home and SOHO Internet security, we decided to take our own advice. It proved much harder than expected.

Email Service Providers With Security Features -- These services can be used instead of or in addition to ISP and/or website hosting email virus and spam filtering features. When our email service provider notified us that they were closing down, we had to do research to find a replacement. Our key criteria were IMAP service with spam and virus filters in addition to cost, ease of use, and so on. Deciding which one is best for you depends on your particular needs. For more background on this type of strategy, see The bombproof plan to securing your email, October 28, and The bombproof plan Part 2: Setting up your email, Charles Wright, The Age, November 4, 2003.

  • Aliencamel -- $16 for six months, 5 day free trial, anti-spam and anti-virus.

  • -- Personal account with five mail boxes for $35 per year includes domain name, 10 MB per box, 14 day MBG, IMAP, total protection option includes SpamShieldPro and Sophos virus filters for $15 per year per mail box, Gold Plan technical support option is $10 per month. Or, get one free mail box without anti-virus or a MailPlus mail box with anti-virus for $28 per year from one of their affiliates.

  • -- Free account has "basic" spam/virus filters, full account for $20 per year has advanced spam/virus filters (Kaspersky), webbug protection, and includes personal technical support, IMAP, 50 MB, and you can pick from a variety of domain names. Their online web mail interface has useful and powerful features that you can configure to best meet your needs.

  • Onebox offers a unique service (as far as we know) that provides email with 25 MB storage, telephone access, an 800 phone number for voicemail and faxes, and more for $15 per month. They protect their email customers using multiple anti-virus scanning engines and spam filters that integrate Bayesian, Heuristics, Distributed Checksum Clearinghouses and Black Lists.

  • OnlyMyEmail Plus, $48 per year, anti-spam and anti-virus, 20 MB storage.

  • Runbox Mail Manager -- One mail box for $30 per year, IMAP, 100 MB, one month free trial, 60 day MBG, SpamAssassin, Clam AntiVirus, includes support.

  • -- One mail box for $30 or five for $90 per year plus $20 per year to register a domain name, free one week demo, 25 MB storage, IMAP, spam filter, two anti-virus filters (Kaspersky & Frisk F-Prot), support included, a new subsidiary of an existing company (October 2003).

Web Hosts With Security Features -- We had three criteria for potential hosts -- hardware firewalls protecting their servers, server side email software filters for viruses and spam, and that these services were included in the hosting package not as "extras". We could not find an online hosting directory that provided this information. We had to visit each potential host's site and see if they met our criteria. After several days and many hours of searching, we found six potential hosts. We were all set up at our new host before SobigF hit in August 2003. The antivirus service filtered out over two thousand infected emails the first three days and several hundred a day thereafter until SoBigF went dormant on September 10, 2003. The one problem we found was that some "default" email was not being filtered. Default means any email addressed to a domain whether there is a mailbox set up for that address or not. Allowing default email opens you up to much more spam and infected email. Blocking default means losing contacts that you may want as a business. As an additional safeguard, we routed all email remaining after being filtered by the hosting service through our email service provider account where it was filtered again. This proved wise because about 5% of the SoBigF infected emails got through the hosting account filters. Just in case something slips through the first two levels of online protection, we also use a low-cost hardware firewall router on our network as well as personal firewall, anti-virus, anti-trojan, anti-spyware, anti-spam and privacy software on each computer.


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