Cloud-based Messaging to Drive Email Encryption

Email encryption will be greatly stimulated by the growing interest in cloud computing and in hosted messaging.

One of the primary concerns of any enterprise considering an outsourced solution such as Exchange Online, Outlook Live, or Google Apps is around the security of the data that will end up hosted in the cloud by Microsoft, Google, or another hosting provider. Email encryption is an important priority for early movers considering the cloud. It all comes down to trust. Companies don’t all trust the hosting vendors with their sensitive business data. And even if they trust the vendor, legislation is still evolving, and no company wants to risk its data being subpoenaed directly from the hosting provider without their consent.

The solution, then, is to encrypt all data stored in the cloud. This requires an encryption mechanism such as a Microsoft Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) gateway at the perimeter between the customer premises and the cloud, or other mechanism. The infrastructure employed needs to be robust enough to decrypt data prior to being sent to partners and other email recipients. And in certain scenarios we foresee partnering companies to choose the same cloud services provider in order to take advantage of a federated cloud model in which all email remains encrypted when sent between partners, and never leaves the data center.

As a result, cloud solutions providers that master encryption early–and in a manner that is simple to implement–will have an important competitive strength.

David Sengupta

One Comment

  1. Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:09 AM | Permalink

    Great post, David. It’s interesting how much encryption is picking up in the last year after years of being “the next big thing.” It seems like the cloud might be the forcing function.

  2. Posted October 20, 2009 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

    Not only is the cloud an important driver, but the weaknesses you pointed out with major cloud email solutions today will most likely drive a closer look at the overall security model. Achieving end-to-end security for content, in order to comply with new privacy laws, will require a fresh look at the architecture. The problem is larger because compliance will require integrated database facilities that allow reporting on all transactions. Moreover, the increasing costs of a defensive posture against malware creates an opportunity to use encryption to create a malware-free space. These concepts were used to develop the WebLOQ solution, and as we also see a serious uptick in adoption interest there is hope that the cloud and other technologies will play a big role……….

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