There are two interesting issues about corporate email – (i) close to 100% of corporate communication is through email and (ii) nearly 80% of the company’s intellectual property – even the very sensitive bits – are either archived in email or travel from one individual to another through this medium. Therefore the importance of email and its correct handling cannot be overemphasized. If you are communicating with a colleague over the Internet, you simply cannot afford to let your mail be exposed at any time.
The above paragraph explains why a large number of companies have come up to offer email security solutions. In this blog, I am reviewing a solution offered by Mimecast, an email solutions company that is based in London. Mimecast offers full-fledged secure email solutions for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365. Some aspects of the solution are quite imaginative and provide capabilities that did not exist earlier.
To begin with, most of the solution is user managed and not IT staff managed. The IT manager configures the various roles the employees have and the rights associated with each role. Once this is done, users have considerable flexibility to adjust their email settings even for each message in their folders.
In more traditional email systems, any kind of list management is an administrator task which is why at times there is a lag between a request for change and its actual implementation. Even if there was a provision for users to manage their lists and settings, administrators would be reluctant to allow them near a running system. As a result, the user stays dependent on the IT staff which is not really the best way to run the system. Mimecast comes with a plug-in that controls user rights and how much of a privilege is accorded to users. This plug-in allows the user to do the most common actions while ensuring that the basic stability of the system is never jeopardized. Some users are allowed to make more complex customizations while others are not. For example, users with higher levels of privileges are even authorized to correspond with people who are on a blocked list. This assumes that the executive knows what he is doing and need not be prevented from doing it; the event is however logged should any investigation be required in the future.
In case you think a message is very sensitive, you can even send it to a secure portal that allows the recipients you have selected to read the mail but these users cannot forward or copy these mails. Yet another feature is the capability to convert mail attachments to pdf files and allow large documents to be downloaded using a download link rather than being attached to the mail itself. This is an easy way to manage large documents. All of this is user configurable and selectable and does not require any support from the IT Staff.
Mimecast allows users to perform a number of actions that were previously in the domain of the IT managers. This is simplifying the management of email services and allows the IT staff to work on more critical issues.
Is this the way IT will evolve?