Verizon is expanding its encryption service to cover documents and e-mail and launches new services for small and medium-sized businesses.

Encrypted Docs enables the user to encrypt files and folders and determine who can access, read and write to the file or folder, enforcing privacy policies. As a result, important data – such as intellectual property, customer records, contracts, human resource files and highly sensitive negotiations – can be safeguarded via encryption.

According to the company, e-mail encryption and newly added data encryption services will help prevent privacy leaks, unauthorized access and help keep documents private in case of theft or loss.

Verizon Encrypted Mail service, which has been available since December 2005, verifies and authenticates that the message has not been altered, allows it to be opened only by the intended recipient, and allows users to lock e-mail that they receive so it cannot be viewed by others.

Both services, available through the privacy packages (such as Data Protection Paks) offered by Verizon, are based on PKI, X.509 and S/MIME encryption standards.

The company claims the services are best suited for businesses that have to comply with government regulations, and businesses that have employees who work at remote locations, where data should be kept private at all times to prevent loss or theft.

"Typically, small businesses do not have the IT staff of large enterprises to manage the complexity involved with encryption services," said Mark Grosso, senior manager of business security products for Verizon.

"Verizon is like a SMB’s CIO, offering small and medium-sized businesses an affordable, cost-effective suite of important Internet security services such as anti-virus protection, a remote backup and storage solution, and encryption services that will help ensure safeguarding the privacy of business’ data at every level. Plus, we offer our SMB customers 24 x 7 technical support," he added.

How it works?

For the encryption service, a user registers and downloads one plug-in for Encrypted Mail and Encrypted Docs. Before sending an e-mail message, users just click on the "Secure" button on their toolbar, and their message – along with any attachments – is immediately encrypted, digitally signed and sent to the recipient. If the recipient is another registered Encrypted Mail user, the user can open the message after entering his or her password.

See a demonstration of Encrypted Mail here, and Encrypted Docs here.

According to Verizon, the most robust privacy package is Data Protection Premium. Starting at $9.99 per month, it includes Encrypted Mail and Encrypted Docs together with the Verizon Internet Security Suite for Internet protection of up to 3 PCs, plus Online Backup and Sharing. This offer combines data encryption services with anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, fraud protection and content management, plus online storage and much more, whether in the office or on-the-go.

"An organization needs to address its IT security at every layer, Grosso said. "While cost cutting is what all companies – particularly, the smaller ones – strive for these days, it’s important to not cut privacy solutions. That’s a surefire way to kill a business."

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