Over the past year, encryption has become an increasingly important conversation for MSPs. And the story has quickly turned to email encryption offered as a managed service. It’s an obvious evolution. Email carries data—often sensitive or confidential data—and businesses, big and small, have taken on greater responsibility for managing and securing this data. So how are MSPs dealing with email encryption? Here’s a look at a few companies that are addressing this growing need.

Managed encryption certainly isn’t new. We’ve seen encryption solutions focused on protecting systems and disks for a while. And some PC vendors, such as Dell, even offer this sort of protection as an add-on support service.

It didn’t take MSPs long to discover that regulatory compliance provided a strong selling point for these services. Back in June 2010, Beachhead Solutions announced that its SaaS PC encryption tool would provide immediate regulatory compliance on a company’s PCs no matter where the systems were located—meaning both desktops inside the organization and laptops outside the corporate perimeter. Its services, which are available through qualified Beachhead MSPs, are focused on system and disk encryption—not email. The company’s Web site lists more than 25 companies in its directory of authorized MSPs using its technology. Perhaps the most notable name on the list is Dell, which uses Beachhead technology for its Laptop Data Encryption service.

But while disk and system encryption is an important part of the security equation, other MSPs and SaaS providers are looking to email encryption as the next step to differentiate their managed services.

Founded in 2002, Spam Soap has introduced a range of managed email security tools for companies. It features virus protection and spam filtering (as you might have guessed by the company’s name), outbound data filtering to help block certain data from being sent over email, perimeter protection, and more. The company now also offers Email Encryption as a service, and Spam Soap maintains a close relationship with McAfee.

Earlier this month, Intermedia (a hosted Exchange provider) held a partner summit in New York City.  In the face of new hosted service offerings from Microsoft—namely BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) and Office 365—Intermedia has stressed how important it is for MSPs to differentiate themselves. In other words, they need to offer different or better features as a way to compete against large service providers like Microsoft and attract new customers. As part of its strategy to differentiate its solution from Microsoft’s, Intermedia is now offering online backup and encryption capabilities for its hosted Exchange offerings.

Also of note: Reflexion has blended encryption into its Reflexion's Services Delivery Platform for over a year, and it's preconfigured and pre-integrated into Reflexion Total Control for email security and RADAR for archiving. The company sees state and federal compliance regulations trickling down into the SMB market, giving MSPs a prime security upsell opportunity.

Trend Micro has actually offered a hosted email encryption solution for more than two years, using in-the-cloud identity-based encryption. It has evolved, of course, as the company has expanded its email security solution. Its Hosted Email Encryption is now an add-on for Trend Micro Hosted Email Security. The encryption feature integrates with Hosted Email Security and is implemented as a rule action.

Worth noting, Trend Micro completed its acquisition of Mobile Armor in February. The company says this will round out its security solution with policy-enforced encryption of disks and removable media.

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