Online business e-mail gains edge in security

E-mail has become such an integral part of doing business that companies are moving beyond simple messaging solutions to new, more secure e-mail products.One such offering, Tumbleweed Communications Corp.

E-mail has become such an integral part of doing business that companies are moving beyond simple messaging solutions to new, more secure e-mail products.

One such offering, Tumbleweed Communications Corp.'s IME (Integrated Messaging Exchange), will be upgraded this week with new features, including one called Secure Inbox, which enables enterprises to create a secure repository for customer and business-to-business communications.

Some experts estimate that features such as these will become commonplace in business, in large part because of the rise of vertical-industry trade exchanges.

"There'll be a high degree of business-to-business e-mails being sent because of all of these extranets and trade exchanges, and those messages need to be secure," said Meta Group Inc. analyst Matt Cain, in Stamford, Conn.

Tumbleweed's solution to this, in IME Version 4.0, is to enable users to send customers or partners a message with an embedded URL that takes the recipient to a secure server, said officials from the Redwood, City, Calif., company.

Chase Manhattan Bank has implemented IME to send customers their monthly statements, funds-transfer confirmations and other sensitive documents via e-mail.

"It eliminated a lot of paperwork that we used to do, and it replaces our normal channel of communication," said Lisa Burghart, assistant vice president at Chase, in New York.

Steve Riley, vice president of technical strategies at Northern Trust Co., in Chicago, plans to roll out IME as a customer communications solution in this quarter and will likely implement it for B2B messaging with partners later in the year.

"We want to have control over our messages and know when they're read and who's read them, and this will allow us to do that," Riley said.

Another developer of secure messaging systems, San Francisco-based Disappearing Inc., is set to release its Disappearing Email this quarter. The system offers the ability to control messages long after they've sent them through the use of policy controls. It also enables authors to prevent forwarding or printing of their messages.

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