Ask Mr. Modem: Be wary of link to ‘secure message’ in email

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 18, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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I receive email from my physician that includes a link to “view the secure message or paste the link into the address field of your browser.” Are these types of emails really more secure than other email?

In a word, “No.” Those types of “secure” emails are a little less than worthless unless there is a password-protected log-in once you follow the embedded link. If you simply click a link to view the message, anybody in possession of that email can click the same link and view the same message. Security? What security? If, however, you have to click a link and then log into a secure website with your username and password, THAT is legitimate additional security.

Do you know of a program that will allow me to catalog and search my record collection?

Here is a list of popular music cataloging programs courtesy of the Record Collectors Guild: You might also take a look at Collmate (, which is a database designed for collectors. It is not collection-specific so it can be used to catalog just about anything from CDs to salt shakers, to coins, stamps, matchbook covers, vases or swizzle sticks. Nothing for the ball of string I’ve been collecting for 47 years, though. You can try this award-winning program for free, and it costs $29.95 to purchase.

I know this is a bit unusual, but would you consider leading a movement to stop the Facebook logo from appearing every place we go on the Internet? I have emailed sites asking them to remove it, but so far no results. Thanks for possibly taking on this challenge.

While I am sympathetic to your plight, the sheer number of requests I receive to get involved in a variety of causes, movements, protests and campaigns based on personal complaints, frustrations, irritations and outrages is far greater than I could ever begin to entertain, so I have to leave those challenges to others.

There are countless individuals who are on an eternal quest to end spam and rid the Web of pornography, email-based hoaxes, scams, pop-ups and other forms of intrusive advertising, viruses, spyware — the list is virtually endless. You name it, there is somebody who wants to change it or have it removed.

Aggressive online marketing is pervasive, whether in the form of a logo or pop-up or sharing of data and information. That is not going to change. Sites are simply not going to eliminate logos such as you describe, the overwhelming majority of which generate revenue. Accepting as a given that such irritations are not going to disappear, I have learned not to “see” them anymore. I simply look past them.

To me, it’s like being stopped at a red light behind a car that displays an obscene or offensive bumper sticker. I can stare at it and allow myself to become annoyed, or I can look away and tune it out completely. The choice is mine. Good luck in your quest.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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