UPDATE: Bell provides new security shield for biz e-mail

Bell Canada introduced on Monday a new set of security features for its business Internet high-speed and dial-up customers, designed to be a metaphorical fortress for e-mail transmissions.

Available individually or as part of a monthly subscription package – the E-mail Deluxe Bundle – the new services include end-to-end e-mail encryption, secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption, secure Webmail logon and antivirus features.

With these new features, e-mail is scanned and cleaned before it reaches the network – if a virus is found, it is eradicated and the intended recipient notified, the company said.

In addition, an advanced security feature was designed specifically for users who send a lot of confidential documents via e-mail. Users will be able to send these documents more securely using the e-mail encryption feature, whereby e-mail addresses remain encrypted and users are directed to a proprietary server to read their e-mails. Bell said this feature would protect confidential information, prevent forwarding of these e-mails and create a paper trail verifying the recipient received the e-mail.

Users could also conduct e-mail traffic through a SSL with messages being encrypted end-to-end to prevent interception by third parties with sinister intentions. SSL is the industry standard for secure Internet transactions.

Brian Church, group manager of the Next Generation Services Team for Bell Canada in Toronto, said the e-mail encryption service works with protocols for use with software-based e-mail programs while the SSL encryption feature is for Web-based e-mail clients.

Another service enables customers to check their e-mail through different devices, such as other PCs, laptops, handhelds and tablet PCs via the platform independent Internet Mail Access Protocol version 4 (IMAP4). E-mail is stored on a different server enabling this access. Another similar service, Secure Webmail logon, is provided through Bell’s Web interface www.bell.ca/bizemail, and is designed to allow business travellers to check e-mail while on the road. However, Church said Webmail logon doesn’t support a lot of devices, only PCs and laptops.

Church said these services are all geared towards the small- and medium-sized enterprise market (SMEs). When asked if the SME market really needs this level of security Dan McLean, director enterprise networks at IDC Canada in Toronto, said the SME market makes up 99 per cent of Canadian business, so security requirements are sure to vary in this sector from low to very high.

Before these new offerings became available Monday, Bell customers were responsible for securing e-mail themselves. Church said most users were using commercial off-the-shelf software installed on their PCs.

However Bell performed market research to see how it could increase the value of its e-mail offerings, and the features that got the best responses were rolled out first.

“We did telephone interviews in both Ontario and Quebec and ranked a whole bunch of different things on what sort of categories they wanted us to investigate in privacy and security. Certainly, those kinds of features scored the highest. In fact 74 per cent of our customers had indicated that these were very important or somewhat important to them,” he said.

IMAP4 and SSL encryption cost $5 on a per month/per e-mail ID basis, and e-mail antivirus costs $2.95 per month/per e-mail ID. The e-mail encryption costs $48 per year/per e-mail ID or all can be purchased as the E-mail Deluxe Bundle for $11.95 per month/per e-mail ID. Included with that cost is 10MB of extra storage.

For more information visit www.bell.ca.