In the months I've had an account on he.net, I was unable to find any information on how to set up a secure email connection, and I assumed it just couldn't be done. Today I sent off a note expressing the hope that someday they'd add support for it, and was told it was already there. A subsequent message from support explained how to do it. Here's the trick, as it's done on Thunderbird and iOS. Hopefully you can extrapolate to other mail clients. This doesn't apply to webmail, which I think always goes through plain text.
He.net's outgoing mail is odd because it doesn't use passwords, but rather assumes that you're you if you've successfully received mail a short time earlier on the same IP address. For outgoing mail, click in the settings window on "Outgoing server (STMP)." Edit your default account. The server name is quebec.he.net and the port is 587. Set connection security to something other than "None" so you can enter your user name. (I'm not sure this is actually needed, but I was having trouble before doing this.) Then change it back to "None." I don't really know whether this means your outgoing messages are being sent as cleartext in spite of the SSH port. But at least if you do all this you never send your password as cleartext.
With iOS, you have to jump through some hoops to make secure email work, because it makes assumptions that are incompatible with he.net's setup, but the security payoff is even more valuable when you're on the road. He.net has a page of instructions here, but I didn't find it went as smoothly. Some combination of their suggestions and mine should work.
In Settings, tap "Mail, Accounts, Calendars." Under "Accounts" tap "Add account." You'll see a list of providers. Tap "Other" at the bottom. Under "Mail," tap "Add Mail Account."
Fill in Name, Address, Password, and Description according to your account and your personal preference, then tap "Next." iOS will then try for a long time to verify your account. It will eventually fail and ask if you want to set up your account using SSL. Choose Yes. This will fail too. I think it sends your password in cleartext this one time, so do this on a secure Wi-Fi or phone connection if possible.
Why did you do all this? Because now you can save your account settings even though iOS will warn you that they're useless. Then you can go back to the account list and tap on your account, and then tap on "Advanced." Now finally you can set up your account for real. Tap on "IMAP" or "POP3." Set the server to quebec.he.net and the port to 993 for IMAP or 995 for POP3.
For outgoing mail, tap on SMTP and use the following settings for your primary server: hostname quebec.he.net, username blank (this is essential), password blank, use SSL off, and port 587. Your mail will be transmitted in the clear, but your password won't be.
Copyright 2012 by Gary McGath
Last updated February 25, 2012
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