Computer SecurityE-mail is by far the fastest and easiest way to transfer information, but as its popularity has grown so have questions of its security. This is evidenced in the mass amount of spam found in inboxes each day and reports of e-mail hacking in small businesses and the government alike. Unlike snail mail, it’s hard to say if someone else has looked at e-mails you sent or to know if a message has a virus attached. With the rise of such security issues, there is a need for more ways to fight them. Let’s take a look at a few apps you can use to keep your information safe and your inbox virus-free.

Spam Blocker Apps

Although many e-mail clients have their own spam blockers, if you’re receiving a large volume of e-mail each day you may need to invest in some additional protection. There are many options out there, and we’ve selected two of the best to profile. Since these apps are cloud-based, they can be downloaded instantly and are user-friendly. Both also offer a free or a paid version, depending on you and your agency’s needs.

MailWasher serves as an intermediary between your e-mail server and your computer, allowing you to see and destroy questionable messages before downloading them. Essentially, MailWasher flags spam-worthy e-mail and displays it in a preview window so you can choose whether it’s safe or not. This can save you from viruses and phishing, preventing data security breaches.  The free version gives you access for one e-mail address, and with the paid version you can use MailWasher with all your agency’s e-mail addresses.

SPAMFighter was developed specifically for Outlook or Windows Mail users, but is also compatible with Mozilla Thunderbird. This app takes a slightly different route through basing its spam filtering on the suggestions of its over 8 million users.  SPAMFighter listens to its users to get accurate information on spam messages; when a message comes to you that has been marked as spam by a majority of SPAMFighter users, it goes directly to your spam folder. The system is easy to use and install, and is free with a small ad on your outgoing mail. If you’d rather not have advertising attached, there is a paid version that is ad-free

Secure E-mail Apps

You are often sending sensitive client information to agents, so you should take extra precautions to ensure that information isn’t leaked or shared. Specialized e-mail security apps keep such information private through using advanced coded encryption methods. This means the sender generates a multi-character passcode and gets that code to the receiver. This added layer of security guards against hacking, and many apps can be set to expire so messages can only be viewed for a certain amount of time.  Here are two e-mail security systems that have stood the test of time and hacks.

Hushmail  is an app that uses standards-compliant OpenPGP encryption and can be used with almost any e-mail system, including those accessed via mobile devices. One of the most popular e-mail security applications, Hushmail uses complex security measures yet its interface is familiar and easy to use. Like all e-mail security systems, you should only use Hushmail when sending or receiving secure mail. With each message you send, a multi-character passcode is created that your recipient must use to view the message. Hushmail is free to download, but if you plan to send and store a substantial amount of messages you should look in to paying for the additional storage and hidden IP address functions. In addition, the paid version gets you specialized technical support.

Virtru differs from Hushmail in that it is a browser extension (currently for Chrome and Firefox only) and works well with almost any email system, including Gmail and Yahoo. Like Hushmail, Virtru is easy to use, but it adds a level of ease by integrating right in to your e-mail system. When sending a secure message, you simple switch the toggle button that appears on the message to turn on Virtru. There is added security with Virtru as they send each key through their own management server, and it allows for e-mail and attachment encryption. Once you’ve sent a message through Virtru, you can set time limits on the access keys and/or revoke access at any time. Finally, Virtru was created by a former NSA member and uses Trusted Data Format (TDF), a format used by the government for the highest security.

Sendio take a bit of a different approach to spam filtering as it gives you 100% control of whose messages come to your inbox. Instead of filtering through messages and rejecting suspicious ones, Sendio reverses the funnel so only domains you’ve approved come to your inbox.  The idea is that someone sending you legitimate information you either already know or they won’t mind providing a little I.D. Once you’ve installed, you import your existing contacts to Sendio, which adds them to your approved sender’s list. E-mails from those not on your approved list will get a nicely worded auto-reply asking them to click a link and type a verification code, something it is highly unlikely any spammers will do. Intraoffice e-mails are automatically added to your sender’s list, so you won’t need to worry about adding a new employee’s e-mail. Those who use Sendio find they stop receiving almost all spam, and are confident that the message they receive are virus and malware-free.

We’ve outlined only a few examples of great apps to keep your e-mail secure and spam-free, but there are others in the works as technology grows and improves. When shopping for such apps, we recommend looking for ones that are easy to use and will work with multiple e-mail systems. In any case, make sure to check each app’s reviews to ensure its legitimacy and effectiveness.

As you think about your e-mail’s security, think also of your agency management system. The data stored within this system spans from personal client info to sensitive accounting information, so you should be certain it’s kept private. We at SIS know these security concerns and, through Partner XE, we ensure data security, giving you piece of mind about the most important information you store. To find out more, contact us at 800.747.9273 or sales@sisware.com. Now if only we did e-mail security, too.

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