Xtra users thought encryption calls a scam

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 10:50, March 14 2014

Telecom's Xtra customers may face another week of chaos.

Tens of thousands of Xtra users who use email clients such like Microsoft Outlook and Android will find it impossible to send or receive emails from Monday, until they change security settings on their accounts.

Telecom has been contacting Xtra customers by phone and email over the past month, asking them to implement SSL (secure socket layer) encryption on their devices.

However, it appears some Xtra users believed the calls from Telecom were a scam.

About a third of Xtra users access emails using programmes such as Outlook, rather than webmail.

Telecom retail boss Chris Quin said there was "still a way to go" to persuade them all to make the settings change.

Telecom had decided to block customers' access to Xtra from late Monday if they hadn't made the change. Its customers didn't want the company to "muck around" with their online security, Quin said.

Spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said all Xtra users would still be able to send and receive email through webmail. Email clients would be unblocked as soon as customers implemented SSL encryption.

Telecom outsourced Xtra to Yahoo in 2007 and more than 100,000 accounts have been compromised and hijacked in a series of cyber attacks over the past two years.

Yahoo has so far failed to explain the cause.

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SSL encryption is designed to make it harder for hackers to intercept email communications while they travel between customers' devices and Yahoo's servers, for example over public wi-fi networks.

However, Fullarton said it was not "a silver bullet" and was only one of several security changes being made to Xtra.

"We can't talk about all of them, because some are confidential, but this is one we can talk about and that we do need customers to understand."

If people were unsure if a call from Telecom was genuine they could call the company for confirmation, she said.

A banner on Telecom's website explains the SSL encryption issue and the action customers need to take.

If people were unsure if a call from Telecom was genuine they could call the company for confirmation, she said.  

 - The Dominion Post

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