Study: Email Encryption Concerns the Feds

Following high-profile information leaks, federal agencies are looking to email encryption but finding that the technology isn't a silver bullet.

by / October 11, 2012
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Security is always a concern, and with federal agencies averaging 47.3 million emails per day, keeping tabs on all data is easier said than done. Encryption is a commonly used solution for keeping email secure, but in a recent study by MeriTalk, titled The Encryption Enigma, researchers found that few managers were satisfied with the level of security in their agency and that while encryption can protect data, it can also create problems.

In 2010, when WikiLeaks posted 400,000 pages of Pentagon documents about the Iraq War, it highlighted a problem for many IT managers. While high-profile leaks led to heightened email security policies, for 90 percent of federal agencies that made changes to their policies, encryption could make security worse, MeriTalk warned. About 80 percent of information security managers fear data loss through encrypted email, and 58 percent of those surveyed said encryption made it more difficult to detect outbound data.

The biggest challenges to improving security, according to those polled, are a lack of funds and employees not adhering to security policies. Likewise, the two best solutions for increased email security are improved end-user training and advanced email security technology.

The problem of email security is far from solved, however, as one in four of those surveyed saw email encryption as a problem, and more than half of those surveyed predicted that email encryption would become a more important issue in the future.

For a full run down of the federal email security study results, download the study here.