Security for Small Businesses
Protecting Digital Information
2006 - Keeping something private used to mean locking a
file cabinet, using the shredder, or speaking in hushed
tones. But the prevalence of e-mail has taken privacy to
a new realm. From personal information to intellectual property,
protecting privacy is not only good business, it can prevent
a wide range of problems.
professional advice is transmitted via e-mail. This convenient
medium, however, carries a high potential for intentional
or inadvertent misuse. When professionals dispense sensitive
information or advice via e-mail, all control over the content
is lost once it is sent. Content can easily spread beyond
its intended recipient. It can be forwarded, or cut and
copied, and sent to competitors.
unprotected e-mail is like sending a postcard through cyberspace.
While transiting, it is routed through multiple servers,
and an e-mail containing financial details can be read by
people other than the intended recipient. Furthermore, with
an accidental keystroke, e-mail can be unintentionally misdirected
to an unknown party.
companies utilize a disclaimer within each e-mail message.
The information may be confidential and subject to protection
under the law, but no real technological protection is provided
through the inclusion of such language.
an e-mail is opened, it can be accidentally forwarded; laptops
and PCs can be lost or sold with financial and personal
data remaining on the hard drive; financial information
can be leaked via a virus, spyware, or a Trojan worm. Professionals
must be able to ensure that documents and e-mails remain
encrypted and can be deleted from a computer after a given
for Small Business
years, large accounting firms have used encryption and digital
rights management (DRM) technology to protect sensitive
business and client information. Fortunately, this same
level of enterprise e-mail and document security technology
is available to smaller organizations, providing the ability
to easily access and securely reply to protected e-mails
containing crucial information, such as financial advice
and tax returns, from a home or work computer.
and document security technology works by not only encrypting
files, but also by applying access and usage privileges.
Users can set expiration dates on their e-mail and documents,
effectively deleting documents from a recipient’s
inbox at a specified date and time. In addition, users can
set access privileges by specifying that an e-mail containing
financial advice is accessible only to a particular recipient.
These protections persist with the files wherever they travel.
While no security software is 100% unbreakable, e-mail and
document security technology can mitigate the risk of information
leakage by safeguarding data no matter where it travels
or is stored. The Sidebar
provides additional guidance for small companies interested
in implementing an overall information technology security
Zambroski is the CEO of Essential Security Software,
a provider of e-mail and document security solutions for small
businesses, including accounting professionals. For more information,