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Zix Corporation launches email encryption service for Google Apps customers

Jonathan Vanian

Dallas-based Zix Corporation has launched a new software service designed to alleviate security concerns for Google Apps customers. The email data protection company created GAME, which stands for Google Apps Message Encryption, to ensure that emails sent outside of the Google cloud network are encrypted.

In a phone interview with Gigaom, Nigel Johnson, Zix’s VP of business development, said the way GAME works is that Zix sets up a gateway–hosted in the cloud–that acts as a security buffer between email networks. Essentially, all outbound mail from a GAME customer that gets sent to an outside email client, like Microsoft Exchange, goes through the Zix gateway where it gets encrypted and then delivered to the recipient.

Google currently claims that its email service is secure as long as messages are being sent throughout the company’s infrastructure as well as to its clientele. Messages being passed along to outside sources, such as Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Exchange, are less secure as they move along the public internet.

Zix has been working on a version of GAME for ten years, Johnson said. The roots of Zix’s relationship with Google stems from Google’s purchase of email-security firm Postini in 2007. Zix was a partner of Postini before the acquisition and since then has been a partner of Google, as Google pushed itself into the enterprise software market.

Although Zix offers its service to customers on a subscription-based model, in this case Google’s sales staff will be responsible for convincing people to purchase GAME, which will be sold as part of an annual service fee in addition to what a person might pay for Google Apps for Business.

As far as concerns that encrypting emails could hurt Google’s ability to scan messages for its advertising business, Johnson said that GAME wouldn’t affect the company’s bottom line because Google does not scan the emails of its corporate clients like it does with the general public.

The news comes at a time when Google has been researching easier-to-use encryption methods for Gmail users in light of the public outcry over the massive data-collecting programs launched by the NSA. Johnson could not comment directly on whether or not GAME’s release corresponds with Google’s concern over security and privacy, but he did say “the timing is certainly good.”

Email security is all the rage these days, as both Twitter and Facebook recently made statements on their engineering blogs urging email providers to use the STARTTLS email extension in order to update non-secure network connections into encrypted ones.

Edward Snowden, the man responsible for the NSA leaks, has recently stated that “Encryption is the defense against the dark arts for the digital realm.”

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