Verizon Offers Expanded Suite of Encryption Services

Verizon expands its encryption services for cost-conscious businesses to include Encrypted Docs, which enables the user to encrypt files and folders and determine who can access them.

Wireless and wireline communications company Verizon Communications announced an expanded suite of encryption services aimed at providing small and midsize businesses with affordable protection for their data across multiple devices, including e-mail and documents. Verizon said the newly added data encryption services would help prevent privacy leaks, unauthorized access and help keep documents private in case of theft or loss.

The new service, Encrypted Docs, enables the user to encrypt files and folders and determine who can access, read and write to the file or folder, enforcing privacy policies. Encrypted Mail service, which has been available since December 2005, verifies and authenticates that the message has not been altered, allows it to be opened only by the intended recipient, and allows users to lock e-mail that they receive so others cannot view it.

Both services, available through the privacy packages (such as Data Protection Paks) offered by Verizon, are based on widely accepted encryption standards like public key infrastructure (PKI), X.509 and secure/multipurpose Internet mail extensions (S/MIME). Verizon said the services are best suited for businesses that have to comply with government regulations, and businesses that have employees who work at remote locations, where data should be kept private at all times to prevent loss or theft.

Mark Grosso, senior manager of business security products for Verizon, said typically, small businesses do not have the IT staff of large enterprises to manage the complexity involved with encryption services. "Verizon is like a SMB's CIO, offering small and medium-sized businesses an affordable, cost-effective suite of important Internet security services such as anti-virus protection, a remote backup and storage solution, and encryption services that will help ensure safeguarding the privacy of business' data at every level," he said, noting Verizon also offers their SMB customers 24/7 technical support.

For the encryption service, a user registers and downloads one plug-in for Encrypted Mail and Encrypted Docs. Before sending an e-mail message, users click on the "Secure" button on their toolbar, and the message, along with any attachments, is immediately encrypted, digitally signed and sent to the recipient. If the recipient is another registered Encrypted Mail user, the user can open the message after entering his or her password.

Verizon lists the Data Protection Primium package as its most robust. Starting at $9.99 per month, it includes Encrypted Mail and Encrypted Docs together with the Verizon Internet Security Suite for Internet protection of up to three PCs, plus online backup and sharing. This offer combines data encryption services with anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, fraud protection and content management, plus online storage. "An organization needs to address its IT security at every layer," Grosso said. "While cost cutting is what all companies - particularly, the smaller ones - strive for these days, it's important to not cut privacy solutions. That's a surefire way to kill a business."