An introduction to Advanced Email Encryption

Ross MacKenzie

Email encryption is vital for countless organisations in today's world. Without it, a firm risks leaving itself open to unintentionally sharing sensitive information, as well as data loss and fraud. Stories regularly feature in the news of companies, individuals and celebrities whose personal and business emails have been intercepted by underhand hackers.

The Sony scandal of late 2014 is a prominent example of an organisation leaving itself open to attack, but it is not alone. According to Intralinks, 60 per cent of employees have often or frequently either used personal file sharing applications at work, sent unencrypted emails, failed to delete confidential documents as required, or accidentally forwarded files to unauthorised individuals.

Without encryption, emails are vulnerable to being read by third parties on their journey between computers. For companies dealing with personal customer data, trade secrets, unpatented products or Non Disclosure Agreements, preventing the wrong person gaining access to this data is critical. Secure messaging is therefore essential for protecting confidential data in order to avoid damaging an otherwise respected brand.

As hacking becomes less personal and with data protection laws tightening all the time, it's prudent for an organisation to ensure that its processes are up to date and that its employees are utilising them effectively.

How encryption works

Encryption, like the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) method, has previously been a tricky matter. Not at all straightforward, there exist several different ways of managing encryption, but until now all have involved several, sometimes complicated steps. This all adds to the time and effort involved - not ideal when time is already limited. For those employees who are not technically-minded, encryption can be a daunting task. It's therefore unsurprising that in the past, employers have discovered workers opting to risk sending sensitive emails insecurely, faced with mounting day-to-day tasks and jumping hurdles to send encrypted messages.

Added challenges come from the complexities of emails being sent and received from multiple platforms and devices, an issue that wasn't around before the advent of smartphones. The challenges of maintaining compatibility across these platforms is a tricky one - combined with added complexities of antivirus and spam scanning. Along with the sometimes prickly issue of email archiving, these all make encryption a minefield for SMEs.

The need for a new type of encryption is obvious; one that is equally secure but without the complexities attached to previous encryption methods, particularly for the user. For this, the new Advanced Email Encryption, powered by Cirius, brings in a fresh new look at encryption.

What makes Cirius different?

Advanced Email Encryption offers all the benefits of a secure email connection, without the hassle to users of countless previous methods. Equally secure, the process is dramatically simplified as all of the encryption process and key management is pushed to the background. This means no multiple steps are necessary; there is only a simple username and password authentication procedure. The system works across all devices, with seamless integration, making it ideal for the flexible working conditions favoured by many companies today.

Cobweb's CTO Julian Dyer explains more of the benefits: "Users have greater control of their emails with Advanced Email Encryption as they are able to send, receive and track messages securely and add additional password controls to ensure sensitive content is protected and privacy is retained."

The Data Leak Protection feature scans for particular words/sequences/numbers and prompts the sender to encrypt the message. This can be done with just one click and the Outlook plug-in means the process can take place without the recipient having to enter the username and password. Julian says: "Advanced Email Encryption is incredibly easy to use and message controls can be applied at the click of a button. Employees are able to work flexibly and securely on any device, anywhere."

Additional benefits offering employers piece of mind include email tracking and message recall. Employees have the ability to withdraw messages sent in error without the recipient knowing it was even sent. The clever 'For Your Eyes Only' feature allows only specific individuals to open the email, while 'ForwardFreeze' prevents an email and its contents from being forwarded to unwanted viewers.

The added bonus of being able to send large emails without them being blocked out by the recipient's server or clogging up their inbox will certainly take the pressure off. Julian adds: "The ability to send, receive, track and control encrypted files of any size means even large files can be sent directly from any email program such as Outlook without putting a strain on storage limits."

Using Advanced Email Encryption, employers have greater message control, allowing a company to defend its sensitive information by preventing data leaks. When protected with Advanced Email Encryption, a company can be confident about the integrity of its electronic communications in the face of ever-changing threats.

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