I was talking to someone in an Instant Messenger while I was reading through
my emails. I found a funny email that was sent to me that linked to another
site and I decided to send that link to my friend. I wasn’t paying attention
and I sent him a link to the actual email in my Hotmail account rather than the
link that opened in a separate window. Can he access my account through that
link or will it only access from the my IP on my computer?
It’s an easy mistake to make – I frequently copy and/or paste the wrong
thing in to email messages or other items. Still it pays to be careful.
The good news here is that it’s very unlikely that your friend could now
access your email. While it has nothing to do with the IP address of your
machine, it does have everything to do with Hotmail’s security.
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What’s likely to happen is that if your friend clicks on that link to your
email, he’ll be prompted to login. Now, naturally, if he can login as
you, then he could read the email. But unless he knows both your email address
and your password, he won’t get through.
Hotmail, and other services like it, use several techniques to maintain the
security of your email. One of the most common is something you’ve probably
heard of before: cookies. Cookies are typically small bits of information that
are stored on your computer by a web site. One of those might be translated in
English as “user firstname.lastname@example.org has logged successfully on this machine”.
By remembering that, the web site doesn’t have to ask you to login over and
over again as you move from page to page.
techniques to maintain the security of your email.”
But that cookie is stored on your machine – which means it’s not
stored on your friend’s machine. He’s not logged in as you. So when he
attempts to access an email in your account, he must first prove that he’s
authorized to do so – by logging in.
Cookies are also not permanent – they’re set to expire after a certain
amount of time. That means that even you will have to login again after a
while. If you select the “keep me logged in” option on a
sign-in dialog, that usually just means that the expiration time for the cookie
is changed from minutes or hours, to days or weeks.
So, naturally, the right thing to do would be to paste the link you
intended, or perhaps forward the email that had it. But mistakes happen, and
the good news is that it’s just not that easy to let someone else into your