Two Sydney councils are trialling e-mail encryption and signature certification software for the meagre cost of $500 each.
The cost is peanuts compared to PKI (public key infrastructure) and removes the need to manage encryption keys and also provides time-stamped receipts for each e-mail.
The Blue Mountains City Council and Singleton Shire Council have just piloted Zixmail before making a decision on a full-scale implementation by provider AXS-One.
Local councils, banks and health providers are leading the way locally in testing the product, which can secure e-mail at the desktop or server level, according to officials.
John Kerry, ASX-One development manager, claims Zixmail is one of the few alternatives to PKI and can be restricted to selected parts of an organisation where communications need to be secured.
Before implementation, Kerry said, audits of outgoing e-mail over a period of a month can be undertaken to see where encryption is needed and to see "what info is going out".
"Assessments show that organisations do not have an adequate understanding of the kinds of information that are transmitted through their e-mail systems, with more than 23 per cent of corporate e-mail containing information that should not be transmitted without appropriate security," he said.
"The failure to protect sensitive information against interception can lead companies to suffer loss of intellectual capital, harm to their reputations, regulatory penalties, civil liabilities, and financial losses.
"Banks and health providers are also facing challenges in complying with increased regulation around the protection of data."