Is it possible with Postfix to add a warning to all emails received over a cleartext (non-TLS) connection?

For example modifying the subject and/or adding a custom header.

  • 4
    I don't know if it's possible, but it would be pointless: you can only know if the connection from the next-to-last relay to the last relay used TLS, you can't know anything about previous hops. If you want email security, use PGP or S/MIME. Nov 14, 2015 at 23:03
  • 2
    I agree end-to-end encryption is needed to keep emails private. It's been in the news recently that Gmail will be deploying something similar to what I described, and I wondered how hard it would be to do on one's own email server. I think it would be interesting to see.
    – Dr.Haribo
    Nov 16, 2015 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


The way to go here is to first tell Postfix to add the TLS connection status into the Received header. In /etc/postfix/main.cf add

smtpd_tls_received_header = yes

This will add something like (using TLSv1.2 with cipher … (256/256bits)) to the postfix generated received header. This information can then be used to add a custom headers. E.g. one could add a X-Transport-Layer-Security header and set its value depending on whether the above snippet is present in the Received header. Possible methods to do so include

  • writing a custom content filter which is called by Postfix,
  • leveraging Sieve scripts to edit the message, or
  • use some of the quadrillion other methods to process messages (proxy, milter, etc.).

I don't know of any ready-made solution to do this, but it shouldn't be much work either.

  • 1
    Yeah Sieve's editheader extension might be the easiest way to go. Info here: mvmf.org/docs/draft-degener-sieve-editheader-00.txt (section 5). To send your email over to the Sieve rules you might want to follow my answer here unix.stackexchange.com/a/252907/23085. Use the same procedure but just pipe the emails directly to Dovecot local delivery and require editheader extension. The code should be easy to come with following the examples on the link.
    – TCB13
    Jan 25, 2016 at 13:55
  • 1
    For Thunderbird there is an add-on called Paranoia which shows a happy, neutral or sad smiley face depending on whether Received headers indicate encryption or not.
    – Dr.Haribo
    Jan 25, 2016 at 15:32

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