BellSouth unveiled last week a service that allows its business DSL customers to encrypt outgoing e-mail for enhanced security and privacy.BellSouth Secure Mail works with customers' Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express e-mail software to encrypt and deliver confidential information over the Internet. Unencrypted e-mail can be intercepted, read and changed by hackers without a recipient's knowledge, BellSouth says.The offering was spurred by the requirements of federal laws, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, for small businesses to ensure the privacy of their customers' information, the carrier says. Compliance with these and other regulations is making e-mail encryption a necessity (see story).BellSouth joins secure e-mail vendors Espion and Cipher Trust in offering products or services designed to secure e-mail in compliance with federal regulations.Others are also targeting compliance with their security management wares. As for other carriers, AT&T offers encryption on its client software for its Business Internet dial-up service. Verizon also has an e-mail encryption service for businesses called Verizon Secure Mail, which costs $6.95 per mailbox.Secure Mail is an application represented by a "Secure" icon on a user's toolbar. For e-mail that requires protection, the user clicks the icon to immediately encrypt the message. Encrypted e-mail can be sent to recipients whether they subscribe to BellSouth Secure Mail or not, the carrier says.BellSouth Secure Mail costs $7.95 per month, per e-mail address. The service enables small businesses to send unlimited secure e-mail to any e-mail address in the world.Secure Mail joins another BellSouth security service for small businesses recently rolled out by the carrier. BellSouth Premium Internet Security service features a host of security applications designed to help keep business customers' PCs free of spyware, viruses and hackers.