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Most organizations have not yet implemented secure messaging for a variety of reasons, including the cost of implementing the infrastructure and the extra steps needed for end users to send a secure message compared to conventional e-mail.
A survey we conducted last year found that 58% of organizations believe that secure messaging is more difficult than sending normal e-mail. Further, we found that fewer than one in five users would be considered a frequent user of secure messaging if such a capability is available to them.
However, secure messaging is becoming a more important consideration for a couple of reasons. First, e-mail is a cost-effective and efficient method for communicating with customers, yet many company-customer communications require that the content of e-mail be secure. Examples include messages between a bank and its customers, between a medical group and its patients, or between doctors and pharmacists.
A second application of secure messaging that is growing in importance is within enterprises themselves. For example, if a benefits department sends an employee e-mail about coverage for a new prescription, that e-mail must be sent securely according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In the healthcare market, ZixCorp estimates that there are a million violations of HIPAA every day in this context.
In short, secure messaging is a good idea for just about any company that might otherwise run afoul of HIPAA or other regulations designed to protect confidential information. There are a number of good products on the market that can be implemented at relatively low cost and that make secure messaging only slightly more difficult than unsecured messaging.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.