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ELECTRONIC MAIL AND SECURITYThe world of electronic mail is the world of postcards Messages travelfrom machine to machine open and available just like the messages on theback of postcards As those messages move through the network anyone ona machine that handles them can read the messages People may choose notto or they may have the access privileges to do so easily but the onlysecurity anyone has is based on the honesty or ignorance of those at theintermediate points Even worse the sender of the messages has no controlover what those intermediate points are1 They can be universities competingcompanies or foreign governments E-mail networks are decentralized systems5 Imagine that a womannamed Alice wants to send a message to Bob Alice writes her message onher computer and sends it to Bob with his address at the top The messageflows through the system going from one machine to another When amachine gets the message the machine reads the header figures out if themessage is for anyone who has an account on the machine and then sends itoff to another machine if it isnt The other machine does the same and so on Eventually the message reaches the correct machine and is placed in Bobs e-mail file5 The next time Bob logs on he reads the message In reality the various networks work a bit more intelligently Electronic mail doesnt bounce around randomly from one machine toanother hoping to find its destination The different computers on theInternet have routing tables1 When a computer receives a piece of e-mail thatis for someone on another computer it knows enough to look up thatcomputer on the routing table and sent it in the general direction of thatcomputer Even so by the time that piece of e-mail reaches its destination ithas passed through quite a few intermediaries since it left its source The thing that worries most e-mail users is that any of thoseintermediaries can easily read the message Imagine that Eve aneavesdropper
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