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Managed Email: Who's Watching?

It wasn't the first time that Rob Jeffords, chief compliance officer with Massachusetts securities broker/dealer Detwiler, Mitchell, Fenton & Graves, had been on the phone with his email archiving service provider. He wasn't aware that it was about to be his last.

"If I wanted to do a search [through archived email], it would take anywhere from a full minute up to 10 or 20 minutes, even a half hour," Jeffords recalls. "We were on a teleconference with the [email service provider] company president going over the problem. We gave him a search, and he told us he'd found the message. He started reading our email over the phone."

Jefford, outraged, asked the exec how he was able to read his firm's mail. " 'I have to,' the president said. 'How do you think we can archive and search it?' "

Jeffords got rid of the provider, which he won't name, on short notice, and after another disappointing encounter, found Fortiva late in 2006. Now he can do fast Boolean searches on archived email -- and he knows that no one else can read his firm's messages. Part of the setup with Fortiva is software that encrypts email at the customer site, before it is archived by Fortiva. The customer alone holds the encryption key; no one else can read the email.

The growing popularity of managed email services is forcing IT pros like Jeffords into a bind. (See Email Gets More Outsourced Options.) On the one hand, they want and need the extra help. But in doing so, they risk opening a security loophole.

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