Secure messaging

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Secure messaging is a server based approach to protect sensitive data when sent beyond the corporate borders and provides compliance with industry regulations such as HIPAA, GLBA and SOX. Advantages over classical secure e-Mail are that confidential and authenticated exchanges can be started immediately by any internet user worldwide since there is no requirement to install any software nor to obtain or to distribute cryptographic keys beforehand. Secure messages provide non-repudiation as the recipients (similar to online banking) are personally identified and transactions are logged by the secure email platform.

Functionality[edit]

Secure messaging works as an online service. Users enroll to a secure messaging platform. The user logs into his account by typing in his username and password (or strong authentication) similar to a web based email account. Out of a message center messages can be sent over a secure SSL-connection or via other equally protecting methods to any recipient. If the recipient is contacted for the first time a message unlock code (see below MUC) is needed to authenticate the recipient. Alternatively, Secure Messaging can be used out of any standard email program without installing software.

Secure delivery[edit]

Secure Messaging possesses different types of delivery: secured web interface, S/MIME or PGP encrypted communication or TLS secured connections to email domains or individual email clients. One single secure message can be sent to different recipients with different types of secure delivery the sender does not have to worry about.

Trust management[edit]

Secure Messaging relies on the method of the dynamic personal web of trust. This method synthesizes the authentication approach of web of trust, known from PGP, with the advantages of hierarchical structures, known from centralized PKI systems. Those combined with certificates provide high quality of electronic identities. This approach focuses on the user and allows for immediate and personal bootstrapping of trust, respectively revocation.

Difference between email and Secure Messaging[edit]

Secure Messaging is a paradigm change to the well known email technology and protocol. Secure Messages are encrypted bidirectionally and are stored on a network or internet server. This has the advantage of archiving the data centrally and providing added security—since message data downloaded to a local hard drive are subject to breach if the computer is ever lost or stolen. This is a common vulnerability with computers using traditional client-server based email. However there are also drawbacks, like the concern about the server's ability to hold intrusions, since all the information it stores makes it a standing target, and the intentions of the server itself.

Application[edit]

Secure Messaging is used in many business areas with company-wide and sensitive data exchanges. Financial institutions, insurance companies, public services, health organizations and service providers rely on the protection by Secure Messaging. Secure messaging can be easily integrated into the corporate email infrastructures (Microsoft Exchange Server, Mozilla Thunderbird, Lotus Notes, Groupwise, Microsoft Entourage, Postfix, Exim, Sendmail, etc.).

In the government context, secure messaging can offer electronic Registered mail functions. For this to be binding, some countries require it to be accredited as a secure platform (e.g. Switzerland)

Technical Requirements[edit]

There is no software required for using Secure Messaging. Users only need a valid email address and a working internet connection with an up-to-date web browser.

Similar technologies[edit]

History[edit]

  • 1965: Mainframe computer users are able to exchange messages.
  • 1982: Standard for (D)ARPA internet text messages (RFC822) is adopted: different email systems can communicate with each other.
  • 1983: Development of the Internet Protocol
  • 1991: Phil Zimmermann creates PGP in 1991, a first generation for secure mail communication.
  • 1999: Launch of browser based internet banking at UBS AG (Union Bank of Switzerland) with the advent of strong cryptography in industry standard browsers.
  • 2001: Google indexes more than 1 Billion internet pages: highly complex information can be found easily
  • 2002: Introduction of strong authentication in internet banking (UBS Switzerland) to prevent identity fraud.
  • 2005: More than 1 Billion internet users: most people in industrial countries can be reached via the internet

See also[edit]

External links[edit]