PGP makes email encryption easier

PGP Universal

PGP Corporation today introduced simpler email encryption in which the burden of securing email messages is shifted from the client to the network.

PGP Universal software suite, launched today, represents a new architecture for the company. The complexity of email encryption systems has long been a factor holding back deployment. Some vendors have responded to by repackaging encrypted email as a Web-based service.

PGP Corp has taken a slightly different tack, adapting its software so that it can be loaded onto x86 servers to create an email encryption appliance. These proxy servers live between an email server and client machine or in an enterprise's DMZ; they are responsible for generating encryption keys and managing the encryption and digital signing of email, according to enterprise security policies. The appliances can be clustered for higher availability.

Transmissions between a client machine and PGP can themselves be encrypted using SSL.

The technology was launched at a Gartner security conference in London this morning. Stephan Somogyi, director of products at PGP Corp, told delegates that PGP Universal radically simplifies the support and training requirements normally associated with deploying enterprise encryption products.

"Desktop solution hit a wall when you hit deployment of 15 per cent within companies because of training and deployment issues," Somogyi told The Register. "With desktop solutions you also have a problem of people accidentally failiing to comply with security policies, for example by forgeting to digitally sign email, that's why we're moving to a network-based approach."

But couldn't an enterprise set up a similar system using digital certificates and email sent using the TLS protocol, Somogyi was asked. Up to a point, he replied; such an approach would only work effectively for site to site email and sets up a computational overhead which PGP's architecture is better suited to manage.

PGP Universal support POP3 and IMAP clients, as well as Lotus Notes systems. Exchange support is more problematic, but the PGP Corp intends to support Exchange 2003 support via OUtlook HTTPS.

PGP Corp intends to add support for S/MIME encryption and X.509 certificates to PGP Universal later this year. And it aims, at some point, to support secure instant messaging and a greater range of mobile devices - PGP has already developed a client that works on a Handspring Treo.

PGP Universal interoperates with AV and content filtering scanners, where messages are be checked before encryption and after decryption. Alex Doll, CFO at PGP Corporation said the company was in talks with one particular AV vendor, which he declined to name as yet, about a possible OEM deal. The company is also in talks with an ISP and managed service provider about setting up a premium service based on PGP's technology.

Pricing for the PGP Universal, which the company says is suitable for companies ranging for a handful of employees to thousands, is based on the number of end users, gateway and supported domains. Costs are similar to AV pricing, according to Steve Abbott, VP of sales at PGP Corp. ®

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