Security Manager's Journal: When technologies collide

An encryption initiative runs into the law of unintended consequences: Legal can't search encrypted emails.

By Mathias Thurman, Computerworld |  Security, e-discovery, encryption

We decided that we were going to have to step back from encryption for now while we look for a way to decrypt email messages before they are copied to the archive tool.

I'm in full agreement with that decision, but it doesn't make me happy. That's because the pilot deployment had been going well, and now we have to push a new policy to our clients, remove the email encryption option and communicate the reasoning to current users. This turn of events doesn't make us look terribly competent.

Alternative Plans

But despite the awkwardness of the current predicament, I'm confident that we'll have things back on track soon enough. Right now, I'm looking at deploying an email gateway that would allow employees to place an email into a secure location to be accessed by customers and partners. Those emails would be encrypted only in transit and as they sit on the gateway awaiting retrieval. Once the email is downloaded, the encryption isn't persistent. Email retrieval is typically through a Web browser, so users will have to take an extra step. The aborted encryption program was more seamless, but this will at least give our employees a way to communicate securely with customers, partners and other third parties.

For the long term, I will begin to work with our vendor on options that will allow us to decrypt email before it's copied to the archive or enable searching through encrypted emails.

This week's journal is written by a real security manager, "Mathias Thurman," whose name and employer have been disguised for obvious reasons. Contact him at mathias_thurman@yahoo.com.

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Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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