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Jun 30 2014

BITKOM: Only One in Seven Employees Uses Email Encryption

One year into the Snowden revelations, email encryption is still pretty much a minority sport in German enterprises, says a survey conducted by the Hamburg-based ARIS Umfrageforschung on behalf of BITKOM, Germany's industry association for information technology, telecommunications and new media.

Lamenting about a lack of security and the loss of confidential information is one thing, but applying protective measures is something else entirely. That's how you could sum up the results of the ARIS study that probed the mailing habits of some 1,000 respondents, 62% of which were professionals. To call its findings "poor" might easily be the understatement of the decade – the term "disastrous" seems much more accurate. According to the official BITKOM press release (no English text available), the study shows that

  • Two thirds (65%) of all respondents were unable to use encryption at work because their mail clients weren't properly configured, i.e. included no or poorly implemented plug-ins
  • Nearly one fifth (19%) related that their employer had rolled out appropriate technology, but that they refused to use it (unfortunately, the survey doesn't elaborate on the reasons for this behavior pattern)
  • Only one in seven participants (16%) encrypts his or her business emails at least sporadically – whether or not the same applies outside the office remains an open question

Given the billion-dollar losses caused by cyber espionage from intelligence agencies and "private entrepreneurs" each year, it is nearly impossible to disagree with BITKOM security expert Marc Fliehe, who warns that companies must protect themselves against assaults from both types of adversaries by rolling out adequate solutions and training their workforce. However, considering how the agencies have reportedly compromised existing standards and undermined trust in encryption methods and technologies as a whole, it's just as impossible to not share some of the average users' fatalism.


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