Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

A New Email Encryption App Your Network Admin Might Not Like

Encrypted email services are not a new thing. And just a couple weeks ago, I covered a company that’s looking to take secure email beyond just encryption — with a “vanishing email” service.

Now, a new app, called Enlocked, says it’s going to make email encryption at the consumer level even easier, by introducing a mobile and Web application that adds a one-tap encryption button to an existing email account.

Enlocked works by offering an encryption option that can be applied on a message-by-message basis. A user who has downloaded the Enlocked app would see the “secure send” option as they’re sending an email. If the sender opts to send it with encryption, the recipient then receives two emails: One informing him or her that an encrypted email is about to come through, and another that is the actual email.

The catch is that the first one prompts the user to download Enlocked in order to read the encrypted email (click on the image at left).

On mobile, Enlocked is available for iOS and Android devices; the company expects a BlackBerry app to become available in about 60 days. In terms of Web-based email services, Enlocked is available on Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, with a Safari plugin in the works, and it works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Windows Live or AOL email. Interestingly, it also works with Microsoft Outlook (including Microsoft Exchange systems).

The big question with a “vanishing email” service like Burn Note is how or whether e-messages are recoverable. With Enlocked, the question might be how long a user would be able to send encrypted emails from a work-related Outlook account, before it grabs the attention of network administrators. The app can be applied to corporate Outlook accounts, said Enlocked CEO Guy Livneh, making it so email administrators can’t read sent emails. Even if someone were to hack into an account, the message would still be scrambled in outgoing mail.

It’s currently free to use, and Livneh says the plan is to keep the consumer-facing apps free, but Enlocked may eventually offer a premium service at a cost. The company said it doesn’t plan to serve up targeted ads in emails as a way to monetize the service. (Enlocked also said it doesn’t store copies of encrypted emails sent through its app.)

Enlocked was launched this week by co-founder Livneh, formerly of database security company Sentrigo, which was acquired by McAfee last year; McAfee’s CTO of database security, Slavik Markovich, is an investor and board member.

Livneh acknowledged that the standard, open-sourced PGP-encryption method behind Enlocked isn’t new. What is new, Livneh said, is how accessible they’re making it to consumers.

“We think we’ve created an easier barrier to entry,” he said. “The magic is supposed to be in the usability for consumers.”

There are other ways that people can send encrypted emails from personal accounts, though Livneh insists that Enlocked’s mobile apps and Web plugins are more convenient to use. There’s Hushmail, for one, but that’s an entirely separate email service and not an application that you apply to your existing email account, such as your Gmail or Yahoo mail. There’s also Sendinc and Lockbin. As with Hushmail, Lockbin requires users to employ its application for sending emails.

(Image courtesy of Flickr/MJ Nault Photography)


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