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Results of corporate e-mail encryption survey

DataMotion : 24 September, 2008  (Technical Article)
Risk of data leakage remains high with almost a half of surveyed enterprises lacking the ability to encrypt e-mails
CertifiedMail and Osterman Research have announced the results of a new study into business practices for handling sensitive email content securely. The Joint Research Report: Encryption Solution Implementation Landscape reveals that sensitive data is put daily at risk because of old-fashioned perceptions and lack of understanding.

The average number of employees in the online survey conducted in North America and Europewas 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%).

Key Findings:.

Of the 205 enterprises surveyed:

· 47% do not have the ability to send encrypted email directly from their desktop.

· Only 45% can send encrypted email manually through their email client.

· Only 13% can send encrypted emails automatically through some sort of policy-based encryption capability.

· Osterman Research found that 27% of organizations had experienced an accidental or malicious data leak during the previous 12 months.

· 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.

· 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.
· 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.

"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," said Kelly Mackin, COO and President of CertifiedMail, Inc. "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. 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 on-line business is readily available today."

"The results of this survey clearly indicate what organizations should do to protect their confidential data and their organizations 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."
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