Secure Messaging is Far More than Email Encryption


Picture a scenario where a healthcare professional accidentally emails Patient A the medical history of Patient B. While the email may be encrypted it still ends up in the inbox of the wrong person who now has access to it. This healthcare professional is now in violation of HIPAA regulations and has put the organization on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in fines. If the word gets out to the media, both the healthcare professional and the organization will be in need of damage control. One small error that can happen to any one of us has the ability to spiral out of control in a split second.

Now suppose the healthcare professional had the ability – without leaving his or her regular email system – to track whether the email had been received and opened and also had the ability to recall the email even after it had been read. If the healthcare provider was fortunate enough to realize the mistake immediately and recall the message before it was opened, a breach would have been avoided altogether. But even if the message had been read, it could still be competently revoked and would no longer be accessible by the recipient. Although this second scenario is less than ideal, it is far better than the alternative: Patient B (inadvertently or purposely) sifting through the medical history of Patient A.

Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) have much to gain by realizing the value of secure messaging solutions that put more control in the hands of their customers – from large healthcare organizations to doctors offices and dentists as well as those businesses outside of the healthcare space. According to an Odin report published on April 8, 2015, 65 percent of SMBs in the U.S. use hosted email by a solution provider. Further research in the same report revealed that SMB’s identified performance, security vulnerabilities and usability among the top five areas for improvement when it comes to cloud email solutions. What these findings tell us is that there is a real opportunity for CSPs to provide better email solutions that address the needs of customers – by way of offering encryption and message control.

Secure messaging solutions go far beyond email encryption. In fact, in order for a secure messaging solution to live up to its name, it must offer much more than encryption – for the reasons outlined above with Patient A and B as well as many others.

Additionally, the ability to track in real-time the moment an email is received and read as well as control whether it can be replied to or forwarded brings value that goes well beyond security. People operate more efficiently and with greater confidence when they know they don’t have to follow-up and check whether a message was received. And the power to fully recall a sensitive message sent in error can literally be a lifesaver – or at least a job-saver.

CSPs who offer their customers cost-effective secure messaging solutions that keep employees in their regular inbox have a method of differentiating themselves and offering a valuable add-on to their security portfolio. And, as the Odin data indicates, CSPs that offer secure messaging solutions are showing their ability to listen and respond to the needs of their customers. In the case of the healthcare scenario it’s a win-win-win for the CSP, the customer and the patients alike.