(taken from LAN Times 1/20/97)

Original was located here: http://www.lantimes.com/97/97jan/701b008b.html


(Go to LAN Times Home Page)

Service Offers Permanent E-Mail

By Brian Riggs
Few things remain the same for long in the fast-paced world of the Internet, but this doesn't have to include E-mail addresses.

NetAddress, a World Wide Web-based E-mail service from value-added service provider USA.-NET, assigns subscribers a permanent E-mail address that can be used with any ISP's (Internet service provider's) service.

NetAddress is intended to let customers send and receive E-mail regardless of their location, computing environment, or ISP.

For example, network managers can use the service to provide their company's traveling work force with inexpensive access to corporate E-mail accounts. NetAddress can also be used to increase network security, according to industry experts.

USA.NET has already signed up nearly 150,000 corporate and residential customers for the service, launched last month.

NetAddress gathers messages sent to each subscriber's various E-mail accounts, downloading them to USA.NET servers. Subscribers log on to the USA.NET Web site from a PC, Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh, or Unix system to receive and respond to messages.

As long as subscribers can get Internet access, they can send and receive their E-mail anywhere in the world. For companies with employees on the road, this could reduce the costs of dialing long distance or overseas to get E-mail from the corporate network.

However, some analysts said NetAddress is no E-mail panacea. "Connection is going to be a problem no matter what," said Harry Fenik, vice president at Zona Research Inc., a consultancy in Redwood City, Calif.

Users will still have to find and subscribe to Internet access services in the areas where they are traveling, said Fenik. Analysts also warn that NetAddress could either enhance or compromise corporate network security, depending on how it is used.

By using the service, end users can get all corporate E-mail messages sent to USA.NET's secure facility, assuring the manager that a third party cannot hack in to the corporate communications server and read employees' messages, Fenik said.

But if end users are not careful about how and where they access their E-mail, security could easily be compromised, said Ed Kearn, owner of Kearn & Associates, a consultancy in Topeka, Kan.

"If [NetAddress customers] use someone else's machine, besides logging out, they also need to clear the browser cache," said Kearn, who uses NetAddress for business and personal E-mail.

"Otherwise, someone else could walk up to the machine, hit the 'back' button, and read mail or log in as the first user. And if people are in a public place, say a mall kiosk, they probably should even empty the [Microsoft Windows 95 or Macintosh] trash can," he said.