WatchDox Aims to Secure E-mail and Beyond

By Lauren Simonds | Posted June 02, 2009

For all the talk about protecting small business data, e-mail remains the big pachyderm in the security room. Think about it. You spend hours preparing confidential business proposals, price lists or designs. Once you send them out into the world electronically, you no longer have control over who views, forwards, prints or copies them. 

A company called Confidela aims to change that with an online service called WatchDox, which is currently available for free during its public beta testing phase. According to Confidela, the service is designed to let you control both who sees the documents and what they do with them.

WatchDox is a software-as-a-service solution (SaaS) and the only one, according to CEO Moti Rafalin, that offers document tracking and control as a service.

“The SaaS model means that no one, sender or recipient, has to download any software to use the service. This makes WatchDox a very cost-effective, simple and secure way to share confidential materials,” said Rafalin.

Another benefit of SaaS is that the documents you send aren’t cached, which means the recipient never has an actual copy residing on his or her computer. Rafalin added that you can set permissions to let recipients print or forward documents – or revoke those permissions – at any time, even after you’ve sent the e-mail.

“You can share product specs with suppliers, price lists with channel partners or competitive analysis with business partners without losing control over the information,” said Rafalin. “A non-disclosure agreement is good, but this is better.”

He noted that the current version is “uni-directional.” You can’t share documents for revision, although the company plans to add two-way sharing in the next version.

WatchDox features include:

  • Limit recipients' ability to view, forward, copy-paste or print documents
  • Set expiration dates for each document
  • Place watermarks identifying the document’s source and recipient
  • Modify recipients’ permissions or revoke documents at any time, even after sending
  • Log and trace when documents are viewed, forwarded or printed
  • Documents uploaded and stored using industry-standard AES encryption
  • Documents streamed to a secure Flash-based viewer. Leaves no traces of the documents on the recipient’s computer.

Sending a document involves typing in the recipient’s e-mail address, choosing the file and setting permissions (view, copy/paste, print and forward, expiration date). You have the option to send a personal note, and then press Send.

Your recipient receives an e-mail with a link to the document and identifying you as the sender. First-time recipients go through a short one-time authentication process. A click on the link opens the document in a secure Flash viewer.

The Flash viewer is the secret sauce according to Rafalin. “We’re the first to come up with secure Flash viewer,” he said. “That’s what makes WatchDox possible. You don’t have to install anything. Everyone has Flash.”

WatchDox in its current form is free, and will remain so, said Rafalin. The company does plan to roll out premium for-pay versions with added functionality within a month or two.

Right now, you can e-mail unlimited documents (two at a time, up to 15MB) and store up to 50MB online. Documents you send will remain available to the recipient for up to 30 days.

Anyone using Microsoft Outlook can download a Watchdox Outlook plug-in and send documents securely through Outlook. The company also announced a partnership and Watchdox integration with Box.net, an online storage and collaboration company.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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