Encrypting Your Emails for Tax Season

Emailing TaxesIt’s that time of the year where businesses and employees alike have a lot of paperwork to file in order to get their taxed done by the middle of April. Thankfully technology has made the process much easier as businesses are able to create digital copies of W2s and other tax forms, employees are able to use software to do their own taxes, and important receipts and other documents can be scanned and stored digitally for audit purposes.

However, there is a risk with transmitting tax information electronically. While it may seem like a great time saver to scan and email your accountant your tax documents ahead of time, your email may not be as secure as you think.

Transmitting sensitive documents via email including W2, 1099, and other forms that not only have an employee’s social security number but an employer’s federal tax ID is quite risky. If a savvy cyber snoop was able to intercept the communication he or she would have access to a slew of highly sensitive personal information. Encrypting these emails helps to protect information by ensuring only the intended recipients of an email have access to the tax documents you are sending.

There are many options available for email encryption; here we highlight two of our favorites for securing your emails:

Microsoft Exchange Online

For businesses that use Office 365, any activity conducted on an Office 365 service adheres to cryptographic standards including SSL/TLS. Data that is created, stored, or transmitted through an Office 365 application (which includes email) is secured and confidential as it moves from one device to the other. Within Office 365, users have access to Microsoft Exchange Online. Emails sent and received through Microsoft Exchange Online can be encrypted through Azure Rights Management.

With Azure Rights Management, a system administrator can configure emails so that they are encrypted when transmitted internally, but also to users outside of the organization. This allows documents and emails containing sensitive information to be transmitted to and from outside vendors such as accountants and tax preparers. Depending on the Office 365 subscription level, email encryption with Azure Rights Management is included, or can be purchased separately for $2 per user per month. Microsoft Exchange Online can also be purchased as a stand-alone service for companies who don’t use Office 365. Exchange Online is available for $4 per user per month (plus the Azure Rights Management charge).

Virtru Email Encryption

Virtru Email Encryption encrypts emails and attachments sent using major email providers such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. Available as a plug-in for Chrome and Firefox browsers, the Virtru Email Encryption plug-in adds an encryption option to every email sent. When emails are sent through Virtru, the recipient is sent to a link to reply back with an encrypted response – so that electronic communications in both directions are encrypted. Virtru bills itself as “Encryption as a Service,” and offers free email encryption through its browser plug-ins. They also offer business products including Google Apps encryption and encryptions standards for specific industries including healthcare and finance.

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