Inbound Encryption: The Why and How
While your organization has systems in place to encrypt outgoing emails, what happens when you receive an email that contains sensitive information? If it’s not already encrypted, do you refuse to accept it? Does it get caught in your compliance filters? If so, what message are you sending by not receiving?
What is inbound encryption?
Inbound encryption is the process by which emails containing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, are encrypted before they are stored in an organization’s mail servers. Inbound encryption filters scan all emails against a set of established rules, looking at content and attachments, as well as recipients.
Why is inbound encryption needed?
PCI requirements state that emails containing cardholder data must be encrypted during transmission across open, public networks, and that cardholder data must be protected while it is stored. This means that sensitive or personal information such as credit card numbers cannot be saved on your network without being encrypted.
For example, you might run a large retail organization to which customers are sending email queries containing sensitive data – like credit card information. In order to comply with PCI legislation, your email filtering system might be set up to block or delete these types of emails. This, in turn, might lead to customer dissatisfaction as their emails go unanswered – leading to lost business and unintended brand damage.
How does inbound encryption work?
Using a Secure PDF delivery system allows organizations to minimize their PCI risk. Instead of doing the encryption themselves, they employ a third-party service which provides on-the-fly email encryption, triggered by automated policies on a PCI-certified platform. When messages containing sensitive information arrive encrypted and secure, they are less likely to be blocked by existing email filtering services.
Any incoming emails that trigger an encryption policy are automatically encrypted within a Secure PDF, along with any attachments, before being delivered direct to a recipient’s inbox. Upon receiving the email, the recipient simply downloads the encrypted attachments and enters a self-registered passphrase to authenticate, open and read the contents.
What to look for in an effective inbound encryption solution
Providing a secure encryption option for all inbound email doesn’t have to be complicated. Using a Secure PDF delivery system not only guarantees secure storage of sensitive information, it also ensures that your organization will comply with privacy regulations and data security standards.
In addition to Secure PDF delivery, any encryption solution worth its salt needs to offer additional secure delivery methods, from Web Portal, to Secure Attachments, SMIME/PGP and TLS. Although replies and any additional dialogue may be performed via built-in Secure Reply features, your employees might also exercise additional options to communicate securely with their clients.
By Derek Christiansen, Engagement Manager, Echoworx