The Email Encryption Placebo Effect – A Bitter Pill

by Neil Farquharson

Truth is often stranger than fiction and I love reading about bizarre true facts. For example, did you know that the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland? Or that Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia, or that Alaska is simultaneously the most northerly, westerly and easterly state in the USA? placebo effectOver the holiday, I read about a study that found that branded placebo pills are more effective than, and have fewer negative side effects than, generic placebos. That is, if you give all the patients placebos, the ones who receive placebos labeled Tylenol, Advil or similar will not only feel better, but will also suffer fewer if any side effects. I called up my friend Dr. Jennifer Helms of the nursing school at Arkansas Tech who I know has studied the physiology of pain. I asked her, is this serious research? She told me yes, and that “placebo studies are absolutely fascinating. One study even found measurable hair growth on bald men who were taking placebos.” She went on to tell me that “approximately 30% of people are what is known as ‘placebo responders.’” In other words, some people feel better just because they think they have a solution, even when that solution has no substance. This reminded me of several of the so-called email encryption solutions floating around just now. They either encrypt every single email – even the ones containing no sensitive information – or they trigger encryption on the basis of a limited set of policy filters. Let’s look at both types. With the first kind of email encryption, most emails are delivered via “push” or “pull” methods. This means that the emails are easy to send, but a real pain in the rear to receive. Imagine having to jump through hoops and waste a couple of minutes to read every single email? The recipient would soon start ignoring these emails and either your productivity or your customer base would soon begin to shrink. The second kind of email encryption attempts to utilize policy filters, however these filters are usually restricted in scope: they only detect a limited number of sensitive data types and formats. This means that a great many false negatives get through and are sent in clear text. It means that you think you are protecting your clients, but often are not. This is like a placebo. You believe you have an email encryption solution, and you can check a box believing you are fulfilling regulatory requirements, but in reality a proportion of your business emails containing sensitive customer and employee data are traversing the public Internet in clear text - easy prey for hackers. There is still only one solution that has the most effective, most granular policy filters in the email encryption industry, and that utilizes Best Method Of Delivery (BMOD) to deliver secure email in the most user friendly, convenient way. It is Zix Email Encryption and you can read more about it here.

Posted: 1/14/2016 12:00:00 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments
Filed under: BMOD, effect, Email, Encryption, placebo, Policy-based

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