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The Dangers of Email For Exchanging Confidential Documents

Email is the most efficient and economical method of exchanging information. It’s a great alternative to congestion and delays in post. It can be used to avoid busy phone lines, fax machines and interruptions to the fax machine. But when it comes down to sending confidential documents, the convenience of email conceals several inherent risks. Once your confidential data leaves your server there is no way to control the destination or who has access to it. Even if your email is encrypted, which offers an additional layer of protection however, it won’t protect you from the type of man in the middle attacks that could occur.

Customer documents often include confidential information that could be used by cybercriminals for identity theft or other illegal activities. Cyberattacks against email servers may also lead to the loss or theft of files.

The good news is that, using best practices and a helpful NDA it’s possible to securely exchange confidential documents through email. Limiting the number of identifiable information included in messages as well as using password-protected attachments, and including a confidentiality disclaimer automatically in your signature are some simple ways to improve security of emails.

For additional security email providers such as Gmail and Outlook now offer S/MIME encryption for email that allows users to digitally sign attachments and emails, assuring the integrity of the document as well as protecting it from “man in the middle” attacks. This method also requires a certificate that is verified to be installed on the receiver’s computer which can provide an additional layer of security.

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