UK startup woos SMBs with email encryption

By John E. Dunn, Techworld
11 October 2007

A new UK security startup, Securecoms,
has launched an email security system it is convinced will turn around
the fortunes of encryption in the small and medium business (SMB)

In a market that has defeated the best efforts of larger rivals, the
company reckons its hardware-based approach to the technology will
overcome the reluctance of companies to invest in a technology often
seen as difficult to manage and complex to use.

Claimed to be configurable in minutes, the company’s Secure-mail is
a Linux-based 100Mbits/s gateway that sits between the customer’s mail
server and the Internet connection, automatically encrypting and
decrypting incoming and outgoing email to other Secure-mail users.

Recipients lacking the same hub can decrypt emails sent to them using a
free and downloadable Secure-mail: lite application, which runs on
their PC.

“Nowadays people are routinely sending highly confidential information
as attachments,” said David Ford, chief executive and founder of
Secure-mail. “The growth in the volume of email used to send highly
sensitive information presents a real risk, particularly to
professional service firms and any organisations dealing with other
people’s confidential information,” he said.

The problem with the service-based approach to email encryption was
that keys were held by third parties, reducing security, while
server-based systems had a tendency to increase the likelihood of
incompatibilities, he said. The best option, in his view, was to use a
simple encryption gateway.

The inconvenient side of the Secure-mail hub is the fact that nobody
else will have one, meaning that almost every company or person
receiving an email from a Secure-mail user will have to download the
Lite application in order to decrypt email being sent to them. Since
recipients can’t currently do this for themselves, and have to be added
to the system manually, Secure-Mail is likely to appeal only to
companies such as law firms that do large amounts of business with a
small number of other companies and individuals.

Customers can try the hub on a 30-day trial, after which
subscriptions would cost from between £1 ($2) and £10 ($20) per user,
per month, depending on the number of users. There is no minimum or
notice period.

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