You had mail: Atabok's e-mail retractor

It's 9 pm, you're still at work, you're fed up and you won't take it anymore. You fire off an e-mail to your boss telling him just how you feel. Five minutes later, your senses return, you press a button and the offensive mail is retracted. Phew.

No, this is not a strange dream. This is what could happen if you were using the latest e-mail plug-in product from communication security service provider Atabok.

Atabok unveiled the newest version of its VCNMail 2.0 last week, providing digital rights management (DRM) to corporate users of Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook. The service, which controls corporate e-mail sent via Atabok's Virtual Communications Network (VCN), not only predetermines whether a recipient can print, save, forward or copy messages or file attachments, but it can also recall messages after they have already been opened and read.

While the service was probably not designed with late-night ire in mind, companies' increased reliance on e-mail has led them to the adoption of tight controls in order to secure their information.

"This is really for companies that can put a dollar amount on the loss of information or the loss of a concept," said Jeff Wyne, Atabok's vice president of marketing.

VCNMail is priced at US$40 a month, per user, and is geared toward companies such as financial institutions and pharmaceutical and biotech companies that need to protect their highly sensitive information. It is currently available in the US and Japan.

Subscribers of the service choose whether they want to send an e-mail normally, or through Atabok. If they choose to send the e-mail securely through Atabok, they then get to select what parameters the e-mail will have -- whether the recipient can forward the message, or view it only once, for instance. Atabok streams the e-mail through its servers and erases all copies off the sender's computer and the recipient's computer so the e-mail is always in the control of Atabok's system.

The company's service streams the data through its network with a 256-bit continuous encryption, authenticating both the sender and the recipient.

Senders can even update their digital rights after the e-mail has been sent and opened. A sender can, for example, decide to let an e-mail be forwarded after it has been received, even if the sender originally prohibited it.

"A lot of a company's market value is floating around in e-mail," said Wyne. "Companies need to protect (their information) to compete."

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Scarlet Pruitt

Computerworld
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