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The Advantages of Using Keyword Encryption for your Emails

Posted by Trevagh Stankard on Thu, Dec 16th, 2021

In our previous post on email encryption, TitanHQ talked about how email encryption worked and why it is important to use this technique to protect data. One of the areas briefly mentioned in the post was automated encryption based on keywords. The use of keywords to trigger encryption is a way to improve security but retain the ease of use vital for employee productivity. Here are some further details of the advantages of using keyword encryption to protect emails.

How does Keyword Encryption for Emails work?

Emails pose a risk to sensitive data as they can leak these data either by the malicious interception or accidental misuse or misdirection. It is highly likely that when you read this, you will know of at least one instance where an email has been sent to the wrong person. This misdirected email may have contained sensitive data as was the case at the University of Liverpool (UoL) in the UK, where the university’s ​​Wellbeing Advisor, accidentally emailed out, sensitive student details and information on counseling sessions attended to an entire year group of students.

Email encryption helps to prevent scenarios such as that experienced by the UoL. But email encryption must be designed to be seamless to improve productivity and enforce appropriate protection. A best practice method to achieve this is to use keyword triggers to apply encryption automatically.

An email keyword encryption solution works by using certain words contained in an email to trigger an automated encryption mechanism. The solution is typically based on a set of keyword rules defined by a systems administrator. This then applies automatic encryption to any emails that contain one or more of those keywords. Email encryption solutions such as EncryptTitan, which offer keyword encryption, also provide the granular application of the rules along with enforcement of encryption policies. For example, a solution should allow an administrator to set rules that define when an email is encrypted, for example, outgoing emails only. Some solutions, including EncryptTitan, provide options that work to enhance the user experience of email encryption; one example of this is to provide a plug-in to popular email clients such as Microsoft Outlook. This plug-in adds a layer of additional user control over email encryption.

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Pros and Cons of Email Keyword Encryption

Like any software solution, keyword email encryption offers pros and cons in its deployment, management, and use:

Pros of Email Keyword Encryption

A well-designed email keyword encryption platform will:

  • Automate encryption, therefore, reduce human error
  • Make encryption seamless and integrated with popular email clients such as Outlook, to reduce the number of clicks to protect an email
  • Prevent sensitive information from going outside the enterprise and/or to the wrong person(s). Email keyword encryption forms an important part of a company’s Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
  • Help an organization comply with data protection regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA. The use of email keyword encryption also simplifies compliance reporting to the authorities
  • Automate compliance to reduce the likelihood of fines and penalties associated with various data protection regulations
  • Provide full audit trails of emails. Some solutions, such as EncryptTitan, offer extensive audit trails that identify the recipients of an email, and who printed, saved, deleted, and replied to the encrypted email.
  • Protect your brand by demonstrating your commitment to protecting customer data. In doing so, keyword email encryption helps to protect a brand from litigation and bad press.
  • Act to safeguard the private information of the organization and its clients' data.

Cons of Email Keyword Encryption

Some of the cons of an email keyword encryption platform can be put down to the poor design of the system.

  • If the solution does not allow flexibility in the creation of keyword policies, it can hamper productivity by applying unnecessary encryption.
  • Unless the solution is robust and easy to use, it can become onerous in practice and annoy employees and administration staff; staff often find a workaround to any security that affects productivity.
  • Unless the solution is easy to administer or is available as-a-Service from an MSP it may cause an additional management overhead.
  • Unless it is email environment agnostic it can hamper the free flow of communications

Risks if you do not Protect Emails Using Keyword Encryption

Research has shown that insecure emails are behind data breaches in 83% of companies. This is compounded by an increase in email use because of remote working. To make matters worse, in over 40% of cases, static data loss prevention (DLP) tools cannot prevent these email-borne breaches. Automation methods, such as keyword-triggered encryption reduce the human error aspect of static DLP solutions making email encryption flexible and enforceable, whilst retaining ease of use for employees. If you do not use automated keyword encryption to protect your emails you place your company at risk of a data breach. With a data breach comes regulatory fines, loss of customer trust, and exposed sensitive company data. Using a well-designed email encryption tool that automates the process, gives a company the best of both worlds, usability with the peace of mind that sensitive data is protected.

Sign up for a FREE Demo of EncryptTitan to learn how email encryption works.

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