Tumbleweed: Filters Belong in the Outbound Email Flow
A recent visit to Tumbleweed.com gives you this intriguing graphic to ponder. I couldn't resist posting about it. For folks using carrier pigeon to transmit messages (see the little tube on the left leg?) adding crash helmets might be one way to improve messaging security… but as I think about it, it won't be much of an improvement since the bird is probably pretty good at avoiding head crashes. Would it be better to show the bird with body armor to keep that pesky hunter at bay?
Tumbleweed, one of the grand daddies of the email security and managed file transfer market, was founded in 1993 (where were you in 1993?), is a public company and has 360 employees.
Key product areas – secure file transfers, digital credentials validation and email security. The secure file transfer product is also AS2 certified by Drummond (see archives in 2003-4 for my thoughts and experiences with AS2 technology). The Validation Authority product line is a software solution that tracks the real-time state of PKI certificates, especially as these credentials expire, are revoked, replaced and so on.
The Director of Product Marketing, Willy Leichter visited over the phone with Brockmann & Company and shared his insights into the emerging area of Data Leakage. Data leaks occur when employees (or equivalents) inadvertently or intentionally disclose important or sensitive information to sites or people not authorized for that information. Information like credit card numbers, social security details or personal health statistics to name three that are particularly important to customers/patients and often have legal penalties or severe brand degradation for non-compliance.
This is the space where Tumbleweed Communications has really done some excellent work: outbound message filtering, policy enforcement and privacy assurance.
The MailGate software scans the outbound message stream monitoring email for out-of-policy messages with perhaps, inappropriate language, XL files with credit card numbers, nests of materials (Word doc with PPT inside with XL sheet inside that with…), too many recipients or messages bound for the 'free mail sites – yahoo, google or hotmail'. Willy assures me that most customers do not stop these messages, but instead report on them to manage 'opportunities' to train employees, investigate service options or just monitor the state of the organization's outbound reputation.
The MailGate software includes optional plugins such as Secure Messenger, which intercepts what ought to be encrypted messages (but isn't) and posts the message to a secure web server. The recipient gets an email containing an URL that allows them to download the content of the message over an https session.
MailGate is big on privacy, supporting both gateway-gateway encryption and a Microsoft Outlook plugin for user-to-user encryption and message privacy.
Although most users are concerned about what's falling into their inbox (see The Problem with Email) and generally have poor experiences (higher Spam Index scores) with filtering technologies, the IT security, Intellectual Property Protection group, and Compliance professionals are increasingly concerned about what leaves the inboxes of the company. For these information specialists, there is no doubt that the outbound message flow is the right place for filters, to scan for industry-specific keywords such as pricing information, product specifications, competitor domains and inappropriate dialogs that might suggest inappropriate email communications. In this regard, Tumbleweed is clearly positioning itself into a leadership role.
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