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Nevada businesses must encrypt e-mail to stay within the law

DataMotion : 01 October, 2008  (Technical Article)
With the law in the state of Nevada changing to demand e-mail encryption from businesses, other businesses will need to follow suit
From the 1st of October, Nevada state law will require all businesses to employ an encryption tool for any electronic transmission that includes a customer's personal information. According to a new study entitled "Joint Research Report: Encryption Solution Implementation Landscape" conducted by Osterman Research on behalf of CertifiedMail, Nevada companies will be a step ahead when it comes to protecting customers' personal data. The study findings indicate that, despite the availability of easy-to-use encryption solutions, data privacy is still being compromised for a number of reasons.

"Like Nevada, more state legislatures are now realizing that personal information is needlessly susceptible to data theft when simple solutions are readily available to greatly reduce this threat," said Kelly Mackin, COO and President of CertifiedMail, Inc. "The consequences of not encrypting sensitive content such as financial data, trade secrets, login credentials, information on potential mergers and acquisitions, means this data is open for any hacker to view and disseminate."

"Many organizations can experience loss of revenue and reputation if their confidential communications are made public and many organizations can lose crucial data and not even know it before it's too late," Mackin continued. "We are at a point in time where no one questions the validity or need for anti-virus or anti-spyware. We need to make the next leap in educating businesses that the ability to conduct confidential online business is readily available today, and the state of Nevada has taken that step."

"The results of this survey clearly indicate what organizations in Nevada should do to comply with the law and protect their confidential data and their customers from financial and other harm," said Michael Osterman, President, Osterman Research, Inc. "Companies need to deploy an easy-to-use encryption capability that will allow users to encrypt private content, even content that is only mildly sensitive. This will ensure that organizations are protected from the potential loss of sensitive information that could come back to harm them."

CertifiedMail and Osterman Research conducted an online survey of 205 small, mid-sized and large organizations in North America and Europe. The mean number of employees and email users at the organizations surveyed was 13,257 and 11,119, respectively. Respondents came from a wide range of industries, including manufacturing (18%), financial services (14%), government (11%) and healthcare (8%).

Of the 205 enterprises surveyed:

1 47% do not have the ability to send encrypted email directly from their desktop.
2 Only 45% can send encrypted email manually through their email client.
3 Only 13% can send encrypted emails automatically through some sort of policy-based encryption capability.
4 Osterman Research found that 27% of organizations had experienced an accidental or malicious data leak during the previous 12 months.
5 Among those respondents that can send a manually encrypted email, 22% found doing so somewhat difficult or difficult, while another 44% consider sending encrypted email manually to be "not too difficult". Much of the belief that encrypted email is generally difficult to use arises from the legacy of difficult-to-use, difficult-to-manage and expensive infrastructures that were not scalable and caused other problems. While today's encrypted email systems are substantially easier to use than early-generation systems, the legacy continues to hold true for many decision makers.
6 The market of frequent encrypted email users - those who would be the primary drivers for the adoption of encrypted email in most organizations - comprise 18% of total email users. Occasional users, comprise another 31% of users, while infrequent users comprise the remaining roughly one-half (51%) of users.
7 Survey respondents indicated that if encrypting an email could be accomplished by simply clicking a button in the email client, "infrequent" users would likely use encryption frequently for all types of communications, even those that contained only moderately sensitive content. Nearly one-half of users want to have automatic encryption capabilities.

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