Our Out-of-(In)Box Experience
During our testing, we used Enlocked's IE, Chrome, and Outlook plug-ins—plus the Android app on a Samsung Galaxy S3—with several different mail accounts. We found that sending and receiving secure emails with them was as easy as the company purports it to be. Presumably owing to transmission and encryption overhead, we noticed a delay of about 5 to 10 seconds between the time we clicked a Send Secured button and when the message was reported as sent, but it wasn't particularly onerous.
We did encounter a handful of (mostly minor) glitches while using Enlocked. For example, the Internet Explorer plug-in failed to display the Send Secured button in Gmail due to some changes Google had recently made to the message compose interface. Enlocked was working on a fix that should be available by the time you read this, and we used the Chrome extension as a temporary workaround.
Figure 3:Enlocked works with any email provider, but it integrates authentication with the major Webmail providers so you don't have to log into Enlocked separately from your email account.
Enlocked's Outlook plug-in also has a feature that turned out to be a mixed blessing. By default, it has a "Send Override" feature to warn you if simply click Send rather than Send Secure when your message contains certain keywords such as "account" or "confidential", and it gives you the option to send securely instead.
You'd think that would be helpful, but given the wide proliferation of those silly email disclaimers that deem every communication as confidential and admonish you delete any message you receive by mistake, we found that the Send Override feature flagged so many outgoing messages that we needed to turn it off to save our sanity. (Unfortunately, there's no way to customize or even view the list of keyword triggers.)
Enlocked's encryption isn't necessarily limited to new messages. If you're using the service with one of the Web-based mail providers, you can use an additional feature called EnSafe to encrypt the contents of any/all of your existing mail folders. There is also the option to assign a secondary password to Enlocked—in addition to the one you use to log into your email account—which can protect access to your encrypted messages in the event your email password is compromised (or you tend to leave your email on an unlocked and unattended computer).
In addition, you can download the public and private encryption keys Enlocked generates for you, in order to access your messages offline or with other PGP-compatible utilities.
As of this writing, Enlocked is free to use on an all-you-can-eat basis, but come January 2013, the company will offer one free and two paid tiers of service. The gratis version will permit you to send a maximum of 10 encrypted messages a month and read an unlimited number of them. A Basic subscription bumps the send limit up to 100 messages per month for $9.99/mo. or $99 annually, while a Professional subscription increases it further to a hefty 2,000 monthly messages for $19.99/mo. or $199 annually.
Enlocked says it will provide a mechanism to allow an IT or other responsible person to purchase and administer the service for a company's employees, but that capability wasn't yet ready while we were testing.
The Bottom Line
Enlocked promises secure email with minimal extra cost and technical hassle, and despite a few glitches, it largely delivers. Any small business or professional looking for an easy way to communicate securely with customers/clients over email should give it a try.
Price: Free for unlimited reading and to send up to 10 messages per month; or pay $9.99 per month to send 100 or $19.99 to send 2,000 messages.
Pros: easy to use; free for low-volume sending and unlimited reading; supports most popular email programs, services, Web browsers, and mobile devices
Cons: doesn't provide end-to-end encryption; message size limited to 10MB; some plug-in/app glitches encountered
Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|