The big political story in the USA is that Hilary Clinton used a private email service while Secretary of State instead of the State Departments own email system.
We don’t care much about politics, as Office geeks we’re interested in what Hilary Clinton’s staff used for her email hosting.
She used Microsoft! Specifically Microsoft Exchange Server with various add-on products to improve security.
We know this because news reports mention potential security risks via Outlook Web Access. OWA is the user web interface available to Exchange Server account users as an alternative to Outlook software or mobile apps.
This isn’t new and was legal at that time. Both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice had private email arrangements when in the same job, though they also used the government system. Former Governor and another presidential hopeful, Jeb Bush, also had a private email server.
Exchange Server makes sense. It’s a high quality system that been approved for use by governments around the world, including many US government agencies (maybe the State Department itself). Configuring Exchange Server can be difficult and it seems some relatively minor issues were overlooked. Ms Clinton’s system used a self-signed digital certificate which is probably sufficient though an externally sourced certificate would have been better.
A personal email server is expensive so it’s only for someone with deep pockets and a deep concern for their privacy. For proper secure email support in Exchange Server you need to buy add-on software from a third party. Just like Outlook itself, Microsoft pays little real attention to the need for secure, encrypted email.
Having an Exchange Server for one person is unusual these days but hardly unprecedented. Many tech geeks, including Office Watch’s editor in chief, had or have their own Exchange Server box. A decade ago it was the only way to get high quality email hosting separate from a large company.
These days even individuals can use Exchange Server because Microsoft and other companies offer cloud hosting with plans even for individuals. Organizing Outlook Email has a chapter devoted to modernizing your email, contacts and calendar to cloud based hosting with services like Exchange Server.