Simon Willison’s Weblog


Authentication via POP3

10th June 2003

Authenticating users through a third party POP3 server (Python sample code provided) is a really interesting idea, but one that I don’t think could ever be used in the wild. Firstly, I haven’t the slightest idea what my POP3 password is as I tend to save it in my mail application and forget about it. Secondly (and more importantly) is trust: how many web sites do I trust enough to give them my email password whenever I log in?

That said, the author of the code snippet lists these and other weaknesses and seems to be suggesting that it would be best used in an intranet style environment, where it would allow web applications to authenticate using the company mail server thus avoiding administrators having to maintain multiple databases of user accounts.

This is Authentication via POP3 by Simon Willison, posted on 10th June 2003.

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