Convenience, ease-of-use necessary for secure email adoption

Jan 31st, 2014 / Category: Email Encryption

Information exchange is a routine part of almost any business operation. Often, documents contain sensitive information that needs to be protected against loss, theft and corruption. Most people know that encrypted files are more secure than unencrypted files, but not everyone is a pro at completing the encryption process. Despite growing concerns over identity theft and sensitive information privacy, people continue to share information in unprotected ways. 

Risky behavior driven by ease of use
When faced with a choice between better security and convenience, people often go with the easier option. Despite clear company policies on encrypting sensitive information, employees may skip the step, especially if the encryption process is complicated or takes time from their busy workday. According to an investigation by HALOCK Security Labs, 70 percent of U.S. mortgage lenders, including many leading firms, transmit personal and financial information via unencrypted email attachments, National Mortgage Professional reported. Only 12 percent offered a secure email portal.

Whether they're exchanging documents with customers or sharing information among employees, many companies need to safeguard sensitive data. The larger takeaway from HALOCK's report is that secure file sharing processes must be easy to use and familiar in order to prevent people from resorting to other options. The source noted that the insurance firms failing to utilize secure email did so because they assumed these solutions wouldn't be accessible and convenient for customers. The same is true for employees sharing documents within organizations - often, they pass over security measures requiring them to complete steps outside of their normal workflows.

"Any type of weak link in a system involving sensitive information exposes people to unnecessary risk," said Terry Kurzynski, senior partner at HALOCK Security Labs, according to the source. "It takes months to recover from an identity theft."

Simplicity and convenience can improve compliance
In the event of a security breach, it only takes one unprotected sensitive document to land a company in trouble. Therefore, organizations need secure file sharing solutions that employees will use every time. Email security software can provide advanced protection while allowing users to interact with common interfaces, such as Microsoft Outlook. By applying the security measures behind the scenes, these programs reduce the impact of human error or lapses in judgment.

Every now and then, a large email provider announces a security breach. Recently, Yahoo! acknowledged that email addresses and passwords for its members' accounts had been stolen. While the thieves in this case likely wanted the account names and passwords for identity theft purposes, Bloomberg News reported, breaches like this can provide access to email attachments within the accounts. Changing the log-in information helps to control damage after a breach, but email services can provide much stronger safeguards, such as requiring passwords to access attached files and allowing users to put time limits on attachments. Instead of relying on email passwords to keep documents safe, the files themselves can remain protected even if the account is hacked.