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Email can be private, sometimes

Feb 10, 20062 mins
Data CenterEncryptionSecurity

Just after I post an article reminding people that “email is not private,” I learn that it can be, and for a very low cost.  A Canadian company called Echoworx Corporation has a service called Echoworx Secure Mail that allows you to send an encrypted email message to any recipient.  Echoworx has packaged the service so that providers like Verizon Online, BellSouth and Sun Microsystems can sell it on a monthly basis.  You can get Verizon Secure Mail for only $6.95 a month per email address.

The service is ideal for private one-way email, more so than for a back-and-forth exchange.  For example, email could be sent securely from a medical lab to a patient giving the results of the patient’s blood test.  HIPAA requires that such communication be private and secure, and that’s what you’ll get when your message is encrypted using Echoworx’s standard PKI encryption. 

The recipient of the mail doesn’t need anything special on his end – just an email account.  The encryption takes places when the message sender presses the “secure” button from within his email system.  The encoded message goes to Verizon, where it is held for 30 days or until the recipient retrieves the mail using a special “shared secret” given to him by the email sender.

It’s a cool service.  It’s not for every message you send, but it’s great for those times when you really need assurance that your mail is only going to be retrieved and viewed by the intended recipient.  Think of it as the equivalent of Certified Mail from the U.S. Postal Service.