Whether you're sending financial records to your accountant, a bid to a prospective client or medical information to your physician, sending sensitive data via e-mail is about as smart as handing out your PIN number at the local ATM machine. But securing e-mail both the body and any files attached to it, isn't an easy or affordable option for most small businesses.
Which brings us to an announcement from PKWare, the company responsible for creating the original ZIP data compression technology. For a limited, but as-yet-unspecified, time, you can download an individual license for its Windows-based desktop data security software, SecureZIP Standard Version 11 for free.
According to Todd McLees, vice president of marketing at PKWare, SecureZIP combines the reliability of ZIP data compression with the security of pass-phrase or certificate-based encryption and digital signature capabilities. "SecureZIP protects any files you store on hard drives, laptops and portable storage devices," said McLees. "It also encrypts e-mail attachments against theft or unauthorized access."
He noted that the software also protects the content in body of the e-mail, when used in Outlook. "This is our first foray into e-mail body encryption, and currently it works only with Outlook," he said. "We'll see how it goes, see what our customers ask for, and take it from there."
Securing e-mail has been a challenging issue for a long time, and not just for small business. In a recent statement, Tim Kennedy, COO at PKWare, spoke about a survey the company conducted at IT conference. It found that 86 percent of respondents were very or extremely concerned about their personal or confidential information being compromised. And yet, nearly a third of them don't use anything to protect the files that they store and send.
But here's the kicker: "Given that the respondents were IT professionals with some of the most security-conscious organizations in the world, this demonstrates that this is not just a user education issue, rather a testament to the need for a simplified solution that is extremely affordable for individuals and organizations alike," said Kennedy.
McLees concurs and said he believes complexity will only delay a solution. "There is no standard for providing data security today," he said. "We have so much experience with ZIP, we feel we're well-qualified to take this on."
"In order for small businesses to adopt file storage and e-mail security, the solution must be readily available and easy for small businesses to both use and manage, or they won't touch it," he said.
You'll find more information about SecureZIP's capabilities here, and you can download the free software here. PKWare also offers SecureZip Enterprise Version 11, which McLees says scales from one to hundreds of thousands of desktops. That will cost you $49.95 per person.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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