Feeds

No-HTML plug-in for Outlook available

Halleluiah, almost

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

I've always believed that if the US Government were ever to get really serious about Internet security, the top players in Microsoft's management hierarchy would find themselves handcuffed, blindfolded, led onto a tarmac within some obscure Air Force base, and shot.

Witness if you will Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, the two most efficient virus propagation utilities ever devised by human intellectual failure.

Among the more ostentatious security pitfalls deliberately coded into Outlook is its determination to accommodate the mighty Direct Marketing Association (DMA) spam lobby by refusing to allow users to shut off HTML (which exposes us to myriad forms of malicious code in received messages), as this would have a devastating impact on advert click-throughs for hot, wet teens, scientific studies have shown.

You can decline to send HTML messages, as any decent Netizen does; but you can't decline to receive them. No, that would be downright hostile to the spam establishment, and Microsoft knows better than tangle with one of the few industries which dwarfs it.

However, some of us now have a nifty tool called NoHTML to disable HTML displays in Outlook, thanks to Russ Cooper of NTBugtraq. In Outlook 2000, NoHTML supposedly converts HTML to RTF. In Outlook 2002, it converts HTML to plain text. Pretty neat.

In NT, 2K or XP, just install the file (a DLL) in: Documents and Settings\(user)\Application Data\Microsoft\Addins. Finish the installation as described below, re-boot, and all should be well.

If you're running 9x, you might try installing it in: Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\AddInsWindows\Local and/or in Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.

Finish the installation thus: within Outlook, go to Tools, Options, Other, Advanced Options, COM Add-ins, Add. Find NoHTML.dll and select it. Re-boot.

Thus far it's worked for me with Outlook 2000 on 'XP and '98. I can hardly describe the thrill of blocking scripts in Outlook for once in my life. In '98, an HTML message's preview pane is blank, as is the whole message when opened manually; in 'XP it all shows up as text, as it should.

It's important to set Outlook to reply in plain text, however (if you can). While the plugin will defeat HTML on incoming messages, if you've elected to reply in the sender's format you could possibly activate a script when you launch a reply. In older versions of Outlook it was possible to force replies into plain text, but in later versions one is only permitted to select his own default settings for new messages.

The plugin, regrettably, won't work with Outlook Express, whose users tend to be those most in need of this sort of protection.

But once it's adapted to OE and its little glitches are sorted out, I'd say we have a winner here. Too bad Microsoft couldn't manage something like this on its own, simply as a setup option. Heavens, had they done so, they might not now have to whine so piteously about devastating bug disclosures. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.