Email will continue to remain a prominent fixture in business communications for the foreseeable future. Encrypting email messages and attachments containing sensitive information is an absolute necessity for enterprise cybersecurity.

There is a plethora of tools available for this purpose and, thankfully, most encryption software does more than just encrypt emails. Depending upon your individual or firm-wide needs, the choices range from simple Outlook encryption to robust solutions aiding in email transmission compliance, data loss prevention and overall client confidence.

1. Outlook Encryption

Microsoft Outlook has a relatively straightforward and simple encryption feature that can be configured through by accessing the options and settings. Using this method, both parties will need the public key certificate to encrypt and decrypt messages. This can become cumbersome and is widely considered insufficient for enterprise use.

2. Enterprise Email Encryption Software

These solutions can be desktop or cloud-based, with the overwhelming majority offering both options. For true enterprise-grade efficiency, it is important to evaluate only solutions that do not require the recipient to own or download their own version of the software. It is also important to take into account the size of the files commonly emailed inside and outside of the organization. The solution should be able to handle your largest files, reducing the risk that users will find a less secure workaround.

3. Security

Clearly the crux of any encryption software, each of the top-tier solutions will have advanced security and encryption methods for data in motion and at rest—the specifics of which will likely be beyond anyone absent extensive IT training. Multiple verification methods, policy-based encryption and SSAE 16 Type II certification are a few of the basics that will be present across the board. Overwhelming as it may seem, taking the time to ask about these, and other security features that set the solution apart, will be well worth the time investment.

“With stricter federal measures being passed, law firms and legal departments must consider two key factors when it comes to email encryption,” Kunal Rupani, the director of product management at Accellion, told Legaltech News. “First, they need to make sure that they are using an email provider which encrypts the email while it is traveling from user to user. This assures that if the data in transit is intercepted, cyber-criminals will have no access to the content since only the sender and receiver are in possession of the correct encryption keys. The second factor is emails at rest. When configuring email, IT departments need to consider private and on premise storage technology. Solutions that keep sensitive emails and documents stored in company owned infrastructure provide an additional layer of security since they retain exclusive ownership of the encryption keys.”

4. Sending & Receiving – User Experience

Satisfied with the level of data security, the next obstacle to securing sensitive information will always be user adoption. For the sender, one-click encryption, email tracking, receipt notices and message expiration are options to insist upon. These features provide the simplicity and desired capability that will ensure users adhere to the organization’s email policies. The recipient should be able to access the email and attachments free of cumbersome processes. This means access from their desktop or via a Web portal, with the ability to send secure reply emails without downloading any new software or tools.

5. Mobility and Integrations

Look for a solution that allows users the greatest flexibility. An Outlook Add-in or API will integrate the new solution into existing systems, allowing your users to continue working with familiar programs. It should also work across platforms—PC, smartphone or tablet. Many providers have developed native apps for iOS and Android and most all have secure portal access through any internet browser. Advanced solutions can also with in concert with content and internet filters, as well as e-discovery and archiving methods.

6. Administration

Competitive email encryption solutions will provide strong administration consoles that allow for the system to be perfectly tailored to the organization and even individual employees. Configuring encryption user opt-out, advanced email sorting and reporting, preconfigured policy options and Active Directory integration should be standard for all evaluated solutions.

Market competition has created a landscape full of powerful possibilities for your choice of encryption software. The final choice could come down to additional functionality such as digital signatures, automated secure emailing or the ability to brand the software with your company logo and colors.