Comcast, unsecured Port 25

morz8January 31, 2013

If there are any Comcast users here, or if you know, is this a legitimate email? My elderly mother got this email today and called asking what she should do. I told her nothing yet with an August date mentioned in the email, that we had time to check to see what might be required for her Outlook Express, aging Emachine which isn't much of a computer but still a good source of entertainment and communication for her...

"We care about your email security when using our network. On August 1, Comcast announced that for security reasons we will no longer support the use of port 25 for sending email from programs like Outlook or Apple Mail. It appears that one or more computers connected to your Internet account are using port 25 to send email. A port is a connection through which information flows from a program on your computer, from another computer in a network, or to your computer from the Internet, Port 25 is an unsecured port, and it is increasingly used to send spam emails through malicious computer programs called malware. These spam emails are usually sent by computers that have been infected by viruses, and as a result, most users are unaware that their computers are sending spam. By no longer supporting port 25 to send e-mail, this will help prevent your computer from sending spam without your knowledge. "

TIA for your help, I don't have a Comcast contract so hadn't seen it myself...

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Someone will know better than but here is some info on the comcast forums and it seems it is legit. Mary

Here is a link that might be useful: Comcast

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 5:38PM
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Well, darn. Busy day, and I read the copy she forwarded to me so quickly I missed that the announcement was made LAST August, not something that would take place this coming August. That puts a little more pressure on, partly because I use email to check on her (living alone) at least twice a day. Two hours away and I hadn't planned to be at her house until the 12th, I may need to find someone closer to take care of this for her, it does appear to be legitimate from what I could find doing a little further research. There are links in the body of the email for the steps needed - she will find them intimidating and her hearing makes phone support from anyone while she's trying to do a task quite difficult.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:06PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

if that's happening with her computer I would definitely install malwarebytes, update it, run full scan right away to make sure it's not as they state in the email. Having malwarebytes on there and having her run scans every week or so will just keep her safer.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Why did comcast wait so long to notify people? Maybe you can do an online chat with comcast to get mote info. Mary

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Whenever there's uncertainty of any kind concerning a communication from a service provider or other contact, the BEST course of action is to contact them directly. Especially true for anything internet related (which for so many people leads to suspicion and apprehension).

Many of the big internet providers offer most users free anti virus software, for Comcast it's the Norton Internet Security Suite. Make sure she has that installed, it's excellent and should be all she needs.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:23PM
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Thanks everyone, I thought I would try calling Comcast tomorrow and see if they would talk to me as a non-Comcast customer. There is a chance when I could get through the automated voice system using my house phone, get a live person, possibly I could call Mother on my cell phone if needed, direct her myself at her computer.

I've thought about Malwarebytes for her, for as many emails as she trades back and forth from multiple addresses with friends and old school mates (yes, high school, class of '45 :)), she's been amazingly lucky with viruses, malware. She doesn't shop, search, browse on line, does visit some sites through email links, like HGTV, U-tube - opens everything that arrives in her inbox.

She's using Avast free, installed by a friend, so an email program I haven't used in 10 years (Outlook Express), and anti-virus I've never used.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:48PM
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Since Comcast shut down port 25 almost 6 months ago, your Mom probably isn't have any problems sending or receiving email. I'd have to think that if her computer was somehow infected and sending spam, Comcast would have noticed it a long time ago. Still it's a good idea that she have the appropriate security measures in place, run regular scans, and get regular updates. As Snidely mentioned, Comcast gives its customers free copies of Norton.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:01PM
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Would the Avast she has in place potentially be conflicting then? It was there before she changed from dial up to Comcast, my sis in law made the change when she wanted to work from there while staying with Mom during an illness several months ago, needed a faster connection. If Comcast automatically initiates their own, there have been two for a while now.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:25PM
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PKponder TX

Who is her email provider? Is it a Comcast email address? Gmail doesn't use port 25 for pop mail, but I know Comcast used to use port 25 for outgoing mail many years ago when I worked for their tech support.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:25PM
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pkponder, yes, she has her computer, TV, phone all xfinity bundled. Her email is a address.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:49PM
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I've found Comcast tech support to be decent. I'd be shocked if they don't speak to you straight away with no questions asked. You won't be the first non-customer "Helper" to call on behalf of an older and less tech-familiar customer.

Nothing downloads "automatically" from Comcast or (in my experience) from any ISP. But who knows what someone might or might not have done in the past.

Personally, I think the Norton system is a better and more comprehensive choice than any free anything, but others may have different views. Norton is easy to use and understand and it's very unobtrusive. I switched to Norton some years ago after having problems with each of perhaps 5 of the leading free AV programs and have had zero issues since then.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:11PM
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juneroses Z9a Cntrl Fl

Comcast is my internet service provider. I followed their instructions and changed Outlook Express. Outgoing mail went from from port 25 to port 465 and SSL was checked. Incoming mail was also changed to SSL and the incoming port automatically changed to 995.

After, when I opened Outlook Express, I got an Avast warning that it is unable to scan incoming mail because of the SSL setting.

I thought a good option would be to keep outgoing port 465 but to remove the SSL requirement so that Avast could do its thing. When I did that, however, the incoming port changed to 110. I manually changed it back to 995.

Are these good choices or have I unwittingly made OE more vulnerable?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:58AM
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juneroses Z9a Cntrl Fl

Surprise. Before sending my earlier post about the port and SSL changes I made, I checked to make sure that I could open a new email. It was okay.

Since then, however, I tried to send a new message and OE would not connect. When I changed back to the default ports (25 and 110) without SSL, OE proceeded.

I'll stay with the old ports and no SSL so that Avast works unless advice here favors the new ports with SSL but no Avast interference.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:55AM
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Morz8 while I offer no help re American providers I might make a different suggestion for you. Have you consider using Skype and Teamviewer? Skype offers you the chance to actually talk with your mum and using Teamviewer you can take control of her computer, mouse and keyboard to do needed maintenance at any time.

Both are free programs so there is no financial outlay at all, you would need to install Teamviewer but Mum would only need to join as the person needing help. The only downside I see is seeing your mum has an older computer there will be a small time lag between your actions and the event happening on her machine.

Skype offers the opportunity to chat or send text messages but is most helpful in that you can explain what is being done to the computer while you perform the needed actions, all free.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:32AM
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@JuneRoses: I have Avast also, and received the same message re e-mail scanning. However, I chose to keep the 465/995 ports active with SSL. I just felt that might be more secure for me.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:10PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

The one thing I will comment on is if she has AVAST currently on the pc set up and running well and it is updating and taking care of business then I would leave it well enough alone. If she were to try to now install some other AV program then AVAST would have to be fully removed first not a task I think you would allow her to do on her own and there would be no need to undertake that if she has a good working AV. Plus if this is an older pc resources may already be stretched and limited and using a resource hungry AV like Norton will definitely stretch her resources much more and that is not a good thing.
Free AV like AVAST and Microsoft Security Essentials are absolutely fine and are highly recommended.
However a malware remover is a different program which is why I suggest using malwarebytes, superantispyware is also a fine malware remover both free. A good layered protection is the absolute best protection you can have.

I am a comcast customer but don't use my comcast email account. Outlook express is no longer supported in newer versions of windows it is about to the end of it's life span and it is a good idea to go ahead and move on from it to something newer.

There is a good comcast dedicated forum over at BBR this is the link there you can find comcast personnel there quite often.
Comcast HSI

I second what Owbist mentioned, using team viewer to access her pc from your home to work on it. It is simple to use and works well.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Think if you do some searches
Comcast email settings
You might find many are setting sendmail to port 587

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:55PM
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I have Norton running on a number of PCs, including an old netbook with zip for ram and a mouse running on a treadmill for a microprocessor, and I find it to be the opposite of a resource hog. It has a very light touch.

If this person is getting help from someone else, removing one program and installing another is a trivial task.

I think suggesting that a novice user should run 5 different programs independently instead of one integrated system is not the best advice. Especially when this person has access to a comprehensive commercial product for free, but everyone is welcome to have an opinion. If the professional IT world agreed with this view, that's what you'd find in large enterprises where security, intrusion, and malware are an economic concern, not just an issue of convenience. Public and private large enterprises have expert employees and advisers, whose views represent the best thinking on technology matters. In such places you'll find integrated security systems like Norton and McAfee are almost exclusively used.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:25PM
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I am glad to hear that about Norton. I have used Norton security since windows 98 and it has never let anything past and my computers run fast and good but so many people complain about it being a resource hog. Have it on 3 computers and never any trouble.

A few times a good website I visit got hacked with spyware and Norton stopped me from getting in and one time my brother's email was sending out a virus and he didn't know anything was going on so I thought it was a legit email from him when I opened the attachment and Norton took it right out.

I did try the free AVG once before renewing Norton and a few days later it let something in. Maybe I didn't know how to use it properly or something but that is why I went back to Norton and stick with it.

I will say I had trouble with a Norton program update once and contacted them and the guy I talked too across the pond was so very friendly and clear speaking and took control of the computer an fixed it and was just so nice to chat with so I think their customer service is awesome. Mary

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:37PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I hear your opinion Snidely

I had mine also and stated it I see no where that anyone suggested she run 5 different programs only one AV which she currently has installed and running and is fine so no need in taking unnecessary steps in a removal process and another install, and one malware removal program which is not an AV program and is definitely a good addition for a layered protection and removal of malware which many AV don't address.
I personally don't care what AV program anyone uses as long as it is active and updated I have no problem with personal preferences at all. AND I have my personal preferences just as everyone else does. The issue here was the added steps to take to remove and yet install some other program when she had one active and working PERIOD.
You are most definitely welcome to your opinion as am I.

thank you

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:11PM
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I think we're partially saying the same thing, Raven, and partially not.

What we're both saying is that using JUST an antivirus program is not enough. The risk with the free programs is just that, people download them and think they're done. Then they have a problem because of the many somethings that know how to sidestep a straight antivirus program. That's why I never recommend free programs.

I'm happy with one brand but one can chose from any of the other half dozen top rated INTEGRATED internet security systems. They're not free, but they're not expensive either. Using any one of these is FAR SUPERIOR to a piecemeal approach, any expert will tell you that. Especially because of the automatic scheduling and functions that users don't need to set up or pay any attention to, they just work. Mary described her experience with AVG, the same happened to me. While evil doers will always be one step ahead of the security companies, using one system that is always running and takes a multifaceted approach will always provide more protection than using a handful of other programs that users need to remember to trigger.

This novice user has access to one of the top-rated integrated systems for free, not using it would be a shame.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:57PM
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I wanted to thank everyone for the help and suggestions, and just to update -

I copied the tips to my brother - hour closer - he went to Mom's over the weekend and made the setting adjustments to change her computer from the Port 25. He's going back in a few days and will take her a more current computer from his office, and will set it up with Skype and whatever program his staff has in place to work on it remotely in the future.

A small thing for most of us, but her daily routine is becoming important enough to her that any change creates anxiety, like being able to send and receive emails after her morning coffee and paper.
I did meet with some brief resistance in speaking to Comcast, the first support person I was connected with told me they couldn't talk to me as I wasn't authorized on her account. I suggested, using my strongest take charge voice, they check the phone record part of her service, that they would find my name there, then we could 'blur the lines' to include her internet. He hesitated, then did that... :) I don't know how seniors with her hearing loss get through Comcasts automated voice system, it's difficult even for me, lots of time spent on hold, and impossible for her.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:53AM
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