Free tool improves Outlook security

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MAPILab has published a free add-on for Outlook that allows for much better management of security violations. Dubbed Advanced Security for Outlook, it's a plug-in for Outlook 2000 and up that can be used without cost in commercial or non-commercial deployments.

Whenever a third-party program attempts to access its mail store, Outlook (at least in its newest incarnations) throws up a dialog box asking whether or not you want to allow access to your e-mail by another program. One of the problems with this approach is that Outlook provides very little information about what program is doing the accessing. Also, it's not generally easy to create consistent rules about which programs are going to be permitted or denied access. Hence, security violations become a concern. In addition, if you have legitimate third-party software that uses Outlook, its usefulness becomes limited when you have to grant Outlook permission over and over again to allow that program to access the mail store.

Advanced Security for Outlook provides the user with a dialog box that describes what component is attempting to access Outlook, and a list of possible actions: allow, deny, call default handler, and an option to always perform said action for this component. (Note that the plug-in works by the path name to the component in question. If you have, for example, multiple revisions of a component in separate locations, you'll have to approve access for each one individually.)

The plug-in also allows access to two sources of system information that will be of interest to developers and administrators: the call stack and relevant process list. The call stack lists all of the processes that are attempting to make calls to Outlook or its associated components. The process list shows all running processes with flags indicating which ones have tried to access Outlook's components as well. If one or more components are trying to make use of Outlook illegitimately, this is a good way to find out.

You can download MAPILab Advanced Security for Outlook here.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletterand a regular contributor to SearchExchange.com.

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This was first published in January 2005

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