To make it easier and more affordable for small and medium-sized businesses to help protect their data across multiple devices, Verizon is expanding its encryption service to cover documents as well as e-mail.

The new service, Encrypted Docs, enables the user to encrypt files and folders and determine who can access, read and write to the file or folder, enforcing privacy policies. As a result, important data – such as intellectual property, customer records, contracts, human resource files and highly sensitive negotiations – can be safeguarded via encryption.

Encrypted Mail service, which has been available since December 2005, verifies and authenticates that the message has not been altered, allows it to be opened only by the intended recipient, and allows users to lock e-mail that they receive so it cannot be viewed by others.

Both services, available through the privacy packages (such as Data Protection Paks) offered by Verizon, are based on industry-trusted and enterprise-tested encryption standards (PKI, X.509, S/MIME). The services are best suited for businesses that have to comply with government regulations, and businesses that have employees who work at remote locations, where data should be kept private at all times to prevent loss or theft.

"Typically, small businesses do not have the IT staff of large enterprises to manage the complexity involved with encryption services," Mark Grosso, senior manager of business security products for Verizon, said in a statement. "Verizon is like a SMB’s CIO, offering small and medium-sized businesses an affordable, cost-effective suite of important Internet security services such as anti-virus protection, a remote backup and storage solution, and encryption services that will help ensure safeguarding the privacy of business’ data at every level. Plus, we offer our SMB customers 24 x 7 technical support."

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