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The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Secure E-Mail

Greater need for encrypted e-mail has spawned a host of new Web-based services for companies of every size and budget.
October 25, 2010

Secure e-mail, encrypted so only the sender and receiver can read it, has been strictly the stuff of big companies and sci-fi geeks.

But just like everything else in this digital age, e-mail security has become simpler and more Web-based -- and dozens of firms are offering options for sending and receiving secure messages.

Encrypted e-mail will almost certainly never replace open e-mail -- it is too cumbersome and expensive. But even tiny firms need to protect critical info like tax returns, independent contractor IRS 1099-Misc forms, and human resources data.

The small-business security burden will only grow. Not only are federal security officials requiring stringent new rules for sending and receiving employee information, but the coming health care reform bill also requires firms to file secure IRS Form 1099-Misc documents for contractors and vendors. We're talking dozens of secure filings for even modest firms.

With that in mind, here is a roundup of services the little guy can use to keep a big secret:

For Small Companies That Have a Little More to Spend
PGP Desktop Email (perpetual license: $164 per user)

For Firms That Want to Keep It Secure ut Simple
Hushmail (free for single users, domain support starts at $10 a month)

For the Secretive Web-Based Office
JumbleMe (free for 100 e-mails a year, $9.95 per year for 500 e-mails)

For Small Groups With Lots of Sensitive Data
ZixMail Desktop Email Encryption (three-year license for up to 49 users, $90 per user, per year)

Hassle-Is-No-Object Security
Djigzo Open Souce Email Encryption (free)