Companies in the spotlightCocoon Data: Securing Internet communication

Published 13 September 2009

Cocoon Data’s Secure Envelopes is a way of electronically “wrapping” sensitive files, e-mail attachments, and other data to keep them from being seen by unintended eyes

Cocoon Data Pty Ltd. provides data security in the public, commercial, banking, and defense sectors. Based in Melbourne, Australia and with offices in London and New York, Cocoon Data focuses on the security and identity management of electronic attachments using proprietary technology called Secure Objects. Its flagship product, Secure Envelopes, allows the creator and sender of any type of electronic file or document, or “attachment,” easily to encrypt, manage, and control the attachment, even after the recipient has received it.

Internet information vulnerability
The security of information sent via the Internet is a matter of increasing concern to business and private persons alike. Many news accounts have documented unauthorized third party misusage of information sent over the Internet — interceptions and theft of both information and identity. McAfee conducted a survey in 2008 and estimated cyber crime data theft to amount to $1 trillion globally (note, though, that some experts suggest this figure is exaggerated; see 27 March 2009 HSNW).

The Internet is an expansive network of computers, most of which is unprotected against attacks. From the time it is composed to the time it is read, Internet communication is mostly unprotected, continually exposed to electronic dangers.

The Internet was never intended to be secure,” says Trent Telford, founder and chief executive of Cocoon Data.

This is sometimes news to users of the Internet, many of whom believe that e-mail privacy is inherent and guaranteed — as with conventional postal mail. The truth, however, is just the opposite. Unprotected attachments may as well be printed on a postcard as they travel the Internet.

The only way to protect attachments is through encryption. Before we turn to encryption — and the fact that encryption methods are all not equal — let us look into just how your Internet communication can be compromised.

Compromising e-mails
One of the most common forms of electronic document transfer is e-mail.

There are many points where an e-mail can be intercepted between your computer and that of the recipient but first how does the e-mail system work?

The most common way of sending e-mail is using an ISP (Internet Service Provider) or company mail server. When you click on the “send” button, your e-mail software will establish an SMTP (SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) connection to your e-mail server. This server will attempt to deliver a message with your attachment directly to your intended recipient’s ISP mail server, but in case this server is