Using free email providers

The possibility of sending email-notifications is one of the key features of many of the monitoring-devices we offer. Many customers use this functionality together with free email services by providers such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail. This works reliably if the respective devices support the transfer of encrypted emails. You can check whether this is the case by looking for terms such as SSL, TLS, StartTLS or simply “encrypted emails” on the device’s data sheet. These terms refer to complex standards, whose details are usually not found in the devices’ manuals. Usually, however, the manufacturer will ensure that their devices are compatible with the major email providers.

Nonetheless, crafty people frequently locate security loopholes in these encryption methods. The email-providers commonly react to such information by implementing new standards while simultaneously ceasing to support older ones. Usually, they will notify you of such changes ahead of time. However, many of us will surely sometimes miss such notifications or react too slowly. Thus, it may happen that your device will no longer be able to send you email-alerts. It is therefore advisable to check this functionality regularly. Some devices can even send regular status notifications, for instance once a week. If such a message fails to arrive, you should take action quickly. A short-term solution to the problem is simply changing the email-provider. However, one should be aware that the new provider will most likely also discontinue the support for the standard deemed unsafe sooner or later.

Recently, Gmail and Yahoo Mail reacted to new information on such security loopholes concerning the encryption methods SSLv3 and RC4. As a consequence, both providers no longer support these standards. This currently affects the devices in the product line TCW2xx by Teracom. At the moment there is unfortunately no alternative firmware that supports newer standards. However, the manufacturer has provided the service TCW Gateway that is free for all customers and can be used to send unencrypted emails.