Review: Email encryption has gotten so much better, you’d be crazy not to use it

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For the Silk Road scenario: if you don’t save a mailbox password when you login, you might be able to thwart this if you can quickly close Outlook before your laptop is seized.

Tutanota still has some rough edges, but as a client-oriented product it has a lot to offer, and as the product matures this could be a worthwhile choice for a limited encryption roll-out in your company.

Tutanota has a 1GB mailbox storage size limitation and is priced at 2 euros per user per month. It is limited to 25MB attachments.

Virtru Pro

Virtru has a nice balance of plug-ins and mobile apps that support its easy-to-use encryption operations across a variety of email circumstances. If you use Windows Outlook 2010 or 2013, you can encrypt messages on any SMTP-based email server. If you make use of Google, Yahoo or webmail, you can run either their Chrome or Firefox browser extension on any Windows, Mac or Linux computer. And there are mobile apps that support iOS and Android phones too.

+ BACKGROUND: Encrypted email service Virtru adds Office 365 compatibility +

You can also install an app for your Google Apps domain. The Google Apps support is somewhat unique in that it adds primitive data leak detection for your outgoing messages. You can have it recognize credit card or Social Security numbers, for example, and have it either warn you or automatically encrypt your message. This is all set up in a separate Web-based admin portal. There are other options located on this portal too: you can set expiration dates for messages, track who is being sent encrypted messages, search for files, and set other security policies.

If you have installed the necessary plug-in, when you want to send something, there is a small toggle switch on the top of the compose screen (if you are using webmail in Firefox or Chrome or its plug-in on Outlook). Turning that on will bring up a “send secure” button to encrypt your message. There are tool tips that appear as you hover over the various options with your mouse, a nice touch. These include the ability to add an unencrypted introductory message that will introduce your recipient to the context of the message that you are sending, and why you want to encrypt the remainder of the message. You can also set when your message will expire or disable any forwarding for additional security.

Virtru also supports zero knowledge encryption, although it adds a separate activation step when a new user receives the first encrypted message.

One other caveat: attachments are limited to 25MB, which could be an issue for some users who want to send bigger files. Another issue: Virtru won’t protect you from the Silk Road scenario where someone grabs your phone or laptop while your email is open, because the decrypts happen automatically.

Despite these caveats, we think Virtru has some very nice options, and given it was the least expensive of the seven products tested, it is definitely worth a closer look.

Virtru has a free version, and a pro version that will cost $2.50 a user per month, with a discount for annual purchases. Both are available for 14-day free trials. The free version just does encryption without the additional features such as message expiration and domain administration that are found in the paid Pro version.

Strom is the founding editor-in-chief of Network Computing magazine and has written thousands of magazine articles and two books on various IT and networking topics. His blog can be found at and you can follow him on Twitter @dstrom. He lives in St. Louis.

This story, "Review: Email encryption has gotten so much better, you’d be crazy not to use it" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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