Why is POP3 Insecure?

POP3 is an outdated email protocol and is insecure just like emails. Still, many people use it. Read this article to know which other protocols you can use to protect your emails.

Not every feature included in your email server should be activated. For example, you shouldn’t use POP3 for any email connection. Yes, that’s because it is insecure. Just as email itself is an insecure means of communication; email protocols are the actual reasons why email is considered insecure.

POP3 is an old, outdated email protocol that is very much vulnerable and exposed. Using this protocol makes your emails easily manipulatable by anyone that has access to the servers used by your email client app.

Microsoft had to stop support for POP3 starting from its Windows 8 OS version. Windows 8 arrived with IMAP and Exchange as the two protocols to choose from, for email transfer. What does that mean? It means that Microsoft also understands the vulnerability of POP3.

What is POP3?

POP - Post Office Protocol - is an email protocol used in the early days of email. Notwithstanding, some email clients still support this protocol, and it’s just BAD. Just as SMTP and IMAP, the POP3 protocol provides a channel for an email to go through a sender’s device to the receiver’s device.

However, POP3 transfers emails as Plain Text. It means even the tiniest of your information is clear to anyone that has access to the servers the email needs to pass through, to get to the recipient’s device.

Email frauds and scams keep increasing. Hence, individuals and organizations move from insecure POP3 protocol to IMAP. They also use other security protocols that support encryption (built-in). So, if by now, you still use POP3 on your email client, you're simply - almost - putting your data for sale.

Why is POP3 Insecure?

Let's analyze some of the crucial reasons why you should stop using POP3 now and switch to any other security protocol such as IMAP, Exchange, SMTPS, and others.

Your Emails are Processed Locally

POP3 doesn't synchronize your data across devices. It simply downloads your data to the device you're currently logged in to and processes everything on that device. So, if anyone can access that device or your storage drive fails, you're DONE with it.

It is Simply Old

POP3 is just an old email protocol that’s gradually dying off and losing support. Newer protocols with extensive support for newer email security features and technologies are now available - for free. So, it’s time to move from the old ways and embrace the new techs.

Can You Secure POP3?

Well, you can add TLS/SSL to your POP3 server to encrypt the data you share across the server. But the major thing is, POP3 does not support synchronization, so it would still be difficult to access your emails across devices, easily.

Many people suggest using IMAP over POP3. Let’s review a few reasons to discuss why they do that: :

  • IMAP supports synchronization and processes all changes on the server-side, not on the storage of your device.
  • With IMAP, attachments on emails won’t download automatically until you open them.
  • IMAP provides more flexibility for setting up your email on a computer, mobile device, tablet, or any other device.
  • Email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook support IMAP over POP3.


POP3 is insecure because it processes emails locally and downloads both attachments automatically. While you can add TLS/SSL to POP3 servers, the protocol does not support most modern features that make email transfer flexible and feasible for organizations.