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Encrypted email and NDAs

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006 by Nigel Jones

Being a consultant, I do business with a lot of different companies – nearly all of which require a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to be executed. Most of these NDA’s require me to protect the company’s intellectual property as if it was my own. So far so good. Once the NDA has been executed however, I’m continually amazed at how often I get sent schematics, source code, technical documents, projects plans etc as attachments to unencrypted email. I send out my digital signature (public key) on all my emails, so it’s a trivial step for people to send me encrypted mail. It makes me wonder how many trade secrets are being lost every year simply because the default is to send out email as plain text. Shouldn’t your company insist that all email be encrypted and that all external vendors provide them with public keys before any sensitive communication take place?

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