Email remains, in many ways, the most useful innovation of the digital age. But it is still plagued by annoyances such as spam, and in many organizations email communications are not remotely secure as they can be.
Email security measures such as digital signatures and encryption have been available for years now, but still are not employed by many individuals, even when the information they are sending over the public Internet is sensitive. And to top it off, users and SMBs can implement this level of functionality quite easily; the functionality is essentially free and built into many of the leading email client programs.
This excerpt from "Microsoft Outlook 2010 for Dummies" walks even the least-technical user through the processes of sending more secure email in Microsoft's industry-leading mail client. The 8-page PDF, from our partners at Dummies, is available free to IT Business Edge members here in the IT Downloads library.
The chapter begins by describing the process of securing a Digital Signature through Outlook's built-in Trust Center. Digital IDs are available for free from many leading vendors, some of whom partner directly with Microsoft and some of whom do not. Getting a Digital ID should not be a big problem.
Once you establish a Digital ID, "signing" your emails to ensure recipients that you are who you claim (a key tactic in fighting phishing) is a simple per-message action. You can see a portion of the instructions, spelled out in the classic Dummies step-by-step style, in the image below.
After you establish the capacity to sign your emails, you can also, on a case-by-case basis, use Outlook's built-in functionality to send encrypted mails. The recipient must also be set up with a Digital ID so that identities can be verified before the message can be decoded.
The Dummies excerpt notes that the digital signature/encryption process does tend to slow down mail transmission - it's not something you necessarily want to employ on the group mail tread about where to grab lunch this afternoon. But if you are sending contracts or quarterly results over the public "Net," it is a smart way to add some additional security to your business communications. And, in all likelihood, you already have the tools you need on your systems.