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Whitelisting with Cpanel

This post is about email: email your way, through Cpanel. Cpanel can be used on email like a food processor can be used on food, it can slice, dice, puree, and even turn your email into Julian Frys.

OK, enough humor. Here are a few facts you might want to know before you invest your time in reading this post. Cpanel is one of the top three “remote control panel” interweb front ends for webhosting, this means that if you want to use shared, or economy, web hosting, you have a very good chance of running that website through cpanel. Now, I admit to not being much of a webmaster, but those who know me know I love my email, and I just gotta have it done my way. My contention, is that if you love email too, you may want to consider getting a domain name and a cheap webhost account just to use these email features. Point the webbrowsers to your myspace account or something and then you can use your domain to control your email.

My example for this post will be that of creating a whitelist on my domain, upon email coming into the webhost, the webhost’s mail program, under the control of Cpanel settings, will be able to elevate an email out of a spam bucket, reroute it to other email accounts, optionally make a copy of an email and send it to your cell phone as an SMS page. As you can tell, my inspiration is to get spam free email on the road, but even if this goal is not shared by you and I, I can promise you that sticking to this will at least teach you some gnarly “cpanel email voodoo.”


My cell providor is not unique in providing a low level of internet access, as matter of a fact, my discovery of prepaid cell interweb access prompted a recent change in cell phone providor. I am a cell phone contract-a-phobe, as my first cell phone contract was actually harder to get out of than my first marraige (yes, really.) Of course, being of a deeply geeky nature, I used email pagers back in the day, and found the period of needing a cell phone contract to get onto the mobile interweb to be particularly lame. Now I feel my mobile needs are being met, now that my mobile phone is now my mobile email terminal.

On my providor, you go through yahoo to get onto mobile web mail. Your providor may have your own gateway. In my situation, you go to m.yahoo.com/mail/ to log into webmail, and from there you can choose “check other mail,” which will cause yahoo’s webmail to check other “pop3″ email accounts. Your providor may have thier own way of doing this, so you may not need to go to yahoo for this. What you want to do is make a pop3 email account and then use mobile yahoo to check it. The big trick, is how can I avoid garbage email in this account. Sure, you could just use a yahoo account and give that email address to all, but then you would have all this crap to filter through on that itty bitty cell phone screen, and on top of it, your cell phone’s speed on the interweb is probably not that fast.

So, for our purposes what is garbage email? Sure, I know you already guessed “spam.” How about forwarded jokes? Do you want that on your mobile? How about friends who only send HTML-ized email, sometimes with embedded images that may not be suitable for rendering on the small screen. The key, I found, is to discriminate based on who is sending you the email in quiestion. You can then reroute selected email senders to a quieter pop3 account.

“Security through Obscurity” means that you rely on keeping something secret to protect it, hence the need for “secret email boxes.”

Enter the secret email boxes. What you can do, if you have a domain, is create email boxes, and then choose not to give out the email addresses to anyone. We all have, on our main computers, email clients that can check multiple pop3 email accounts, so here is the crucial thing in this presentation, why not have a few wierdly named email addresses nobody knows about, and then check those email addresses more frequently (as well from your mobile phone as well as you main computer.) In my case, my “secret email accounts” are just numbers I pulled out of thin air, I guess this means that I have “secret numbered email accounts,” (when I get rich, I’ll be sure to get a secret numbered Swiss bank account to go with it.) Then, tell yahoomail how to read those secret email accounts. All we need now is to sort through incoming email and reroute it apropriately.


I find it useful to have two secret email addresses, although I could have more. One is just a plain old secret pop3 email box, the other is special “cloneing” email box, that copies to another email address as it stores email. To create a cloning email address you do the following. First, if you havent already, log into your domains control panel, at mydomain.com/cpanel , then click the mail icon to go into your email management functions. Create a secret email address like “beepmealso@mydomain.com” and create an email forwarder under that name, forward email from this address to your cell phones texting email address, something like “yourphonenumber@vtext.com,” (this example would be for the verizon email-to-text gateway, don’t forget that texting rates apply now.) Now, go back to the mail manager menu, and choose “add account” to add a pop3 account, and make that name the same as the forwarder setup, in this example, “beepmealso@mydomain.com.” Now, all emails to “beepmealso@mydomain.com” will be stored in your pop3 email account as well forwarded to your cell phone as a text message. This is an “undocumented feature” of cpanel.

Please don’t tell the programmers at Cpanel about undocumented features, they can mistake them for bugs, and remove them, and that would just ruin everybodies fun.

Now, to complete the process, under the mail manager menu choose “email filtering.” There, you can set up email filters based on subject lines, from lines, spam assassin special headers, and even keywords in the body of the email. Begin creating “from” filters for all those emailers you want to, and change the destination from your regular email account, to the approprate special email account. Now, only people special to you end up on your cell phone, other emails still get through, but they are held for later reading on your main computer.

This post is long enough as it is, and is meant to encourage people to become more sophisticated email users. However, if you need more basic information, you can google for “cpanel beginners” and “cpanel tutorials,” the later will pull up cpanel’s official documentation pages at cpanel.net. Another good search is “cheap web hosting cpanel.”


Our local “Podcast Internet Radio” files…

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Ken Fallon’s article on tracking email address sellers through email aliases

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