Health group boosts mail security

ArticSoft

The Michigan Public Health Institute is expanding its use of software that encrypts e-mail.

Officials from the institute downloaded ArticSoft FileAssurity onto six computers in January and found the software so effective that they will install it on 100 additional machines.

ArticSoft encrypts e-mails when there are confidential attachments, scrambling the file contents so they are no longer readable in their original format. The institute used to send private information out with a courier to ensure security, but e-mailing is a faster and less expensive option, according to Steven Pierce, former privacy officer at the institute.

While the courier service costs up to $20 per trip, FileAssurity Software costs $39 for the original download for each computer. Therefore, the software pays for itself after just two uses.

"We thought this was a great solution and we still think it's a great solution," Pierce said.

Encrypted e-mails can only be read with private key numbers generated by the software. The sender sends the message using the receiver's personal key number, according to Steve Matthews, president of ArticSoft.

The Institute wanted secure e-mail to exchange information with clients about health problems and to share raw data with police departments about violent deaths relating to firearm incidents. Also, FileAssurity's secure delete feature allows staff members to clean up old backup tapes to make sure nothing is there left past its retention period.

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