Email data leaks

Safety on the web should go beyond a virus scanner and firewall

Safety on the web should go beyond a virus scanner and firewall

Safety on the web should go beyond a virus scanner and firewall

For all the publicity and attention surrounding stopping devious hackers and preventing lost laptops, it’s rare to find a business adequately tackling one of the most obvious methods of confidential data leaving an organisation: email.

A survey of 124 IT managers by E-Media found that 94 percent of companies have no protection in place to stop confidential information leaving the company by email, and 32 percent would have no idea it had left the organisation in the first place.

James Blake, security expert at email management firm Mimecast, says: ‘With the blurring of boundaries between company employees and external consultants, contractors, outsourcers and other third parties, it’s more difficult to ensure the appropriate flow of information outside the organisation, especially since the majority
of employees are now knowledge workers with access to significant amounts of confidential data.’

Email, possibly more so than viruses, has a long and sordid history of bringing companies and individuals to grief – as anyone who has mistakenly hit a ‘reply all’ button can attest.

A landmark case involved two lawyers at a London legal firm who were dragged before an industrial tribunal over an email requesting ‘a busty blonde’ to replace their secretary, who was resigning. It ended with red faces all round and a settlement running into the thousands.

Data loss prevention (DLP) is an emerging market in the IT security industry and aims to prevent such leaks, whether the material is offensive or confidential.

Industry titans have been rushing out to acquire DLP specialists and plug them into existing products, indicating not only confidence in the size of the market, but also in the scale of the problem.

Rather than opt for expensive software, subscription-based email hosting services like Mimecast, Proofpoint and MessageLabs are increasingly seeking to differentiate themselves by offering a variety of extra services, including DLP.

With in-house email management next-to-unmanageable for most smaller organisations, hosted email of the software-as-a-service variety is an avenue that is increasingly attractive to these enterprises.

Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

Related Topics

Tech Jobs & Careers