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How to Keep Your Company's Email Safe

Whether you use a desktop computer, a laptop, or a smartphone, you have probably come to rely on e-mail to communicate with vendors, customers, and business associates. It's just as likely that many of your e-mails have attached files that contain confidential information or some other highly private data. Unfortunately, private, important data can be stolen, accidentally forwarded, or leaked through malicious software programs. That's why you need to focus on enhancing your security measures. Here are some enhancements to consider.

Encryption. Encryption scrambles the data in e-mail messages so that they cannot be read if they are intercepted. Many off-the-shelf and downloadable products use a variation of public-key cryptography (which uses one key for data encryption and another for decryption). Businesses can also access secure e-mail services online.

E-mail gateways. Some businesses secure external e-mails and leave internal e-mails unsecured. Businesses that take this route use e-mail gateway security products that capture outgoing e-mails and ensure that they are sent securely.

Access and usage privileges. Another layer of security involves e-mail users setting access privileges by specifying that a confidential e-mail is accessible only to a particular recipient.

Expiration dates. E-mail users can set expiration dates on their e-mails and other documents so that documents are deleted from a recipient's inbox on a specified date.

Firewalls. Firewalls are designed to separate one network from another and are often used to separate an internal network from the Internet. Firewalls can also identify and filter out potentially damaging data entering or leaving the network.

Antivirus protection. Installing antivirus software on all company computers protects against viruses that attempt to slip through firewalls by posing as legitimate e-mails or programs.