How to protect an e-mail password

Q. I saw the item about Gmail security. If I don't turn on this encryption in my desktop e-mail program, can I expose my password at wireless hot spots?

You can avoid that risk with a change in your e-mail settings. But many Internet providers don't offer the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption that solves this problem, and many e-mail programs hide this option from users.

First, see if your provider offers SSL logins. You may see this listed on its tech-support pages, or you may need to call for help. If your provider does offer them, the following instructions apply:

In Microsoft's Outlook 2007, go to its Tools menu, select Account Settings and choose your account. Click the Change button, click More Settings, then click the Advanced tab. Select SSL from the “Use the following type of encrypted connection” drop-down menu. (The procedure is similar in earlier Outlook releases, but you'd begin at the Tools menu's E-mail Accounts item.)

In Microsoft's Outlook Express or its Windows Vista replacement, Windows Mail, go to the Tools menu, select Accounts (in OE, click the Mail tab first), choose yours and click Properties. Click the Advanced tab, then click “This server requires a secure connection (SSL)” checkboxes under the outgoing and incoming e-mail headings.

In Mozilla Thunderbird, go to the Tools menu and select Account Settings. In that window, choose your account, click the Server Settings heading, and click the SSL button. Then pick your outgoing mail server in the Account Settings window, click Edit and click the SSL button.

In Apple's Mail, go to the Mail menu, choose Preferences and click the Accounts tab. Choose your account, click Advanced and click Use SSL.