StayPrivate is making email security simpler for users and opening up lucrative new opportunities for channel partners. James Goulding reports
How much do you trust your email system? More to the point, how much do you trust your customers’ or your suppliers’? The risk of cyber threats, such as phishing emails and ransomware attacks, allied to the growing importance of protecting – and being seen to protect – customer data and operating in compliance with privacy laws, such as GDPR, mean that many businesses are choosing to protect private or sensitive information with a secure email system.
Instead of risking the transmission of information such as test results, password resets, personal IDs, address details, employee pay slips, company invoices etc. to email accounts over which they have no control, like those belonging to small businesses in their supply chain or to consumer email accounts that might be being tracked and data-mined, businesses have for some time being making use of secure email systems that encrypt and secure messages that recipients can only access after identifying themselves.
Most people have at one time or another received a secure email from a financial services company, a doctor, an estate agent, a lawyer, a lettings agency, an employer. Sometimes the process involved in opening and replying to messages is straightforward and sometimes it is infuriatingly complex – and the same could be said about sending those emails.
One solution that is winning more and more plaudits for its simplicity, both from email senders and recipients, is StayPrivate. Essentially an online platform where emails can be read and replied to securely, StayPrivate plugs into a business’s email account and can be used by employees as part of their existing workflow.
They use their email account and compose emails in the normal way but are now able to send an email securely by including a pre-set keyword, such as #stayprivate, or by setting up rules so that anything sent to a personal email address like Gmail, AOL, iCloud, BT Connect etc. is automatically encrypted and carried by Stay Private.
When a keyword is used, an email to a business account will be delivered using TLS, while an email to a consumer account will be kept within the StayPrivate platform where it can be read and replied to securely. All the recipient has to do is click on a smart link and set their own PIN, which they can then use to read and reply to emails in the StayPrivate secure area via a browser or free iOS/Android app.
StayPrivate was originally developed for use in the financial services sector by co-founders Andrew Brogden and Rob Reid. However, they quickly realised it had applications in all business sectors, as Andrew explains.
“We realised that as privacy and security become more important there is going to be a need for all kinds of organisation and indeed individuals to communicate with each other in a better, more secure way. This is a solution that everybody should have – not just large institutions, but also SMEs.”
To help StayPrivate broaden its customer base and reach smaller businesses, Andrew approached ICT & TMT industry entrepreneur Adrian Barnard, bringing him on board as Commercial Director of the company. With his experience in building and running successful channel businesses, Adrian immediately saw the potential for channel partners and the opportunity it gives them to address customers’ security concerns with a product that is easy to install, sell and use.
He quickly set about developing a channel-friendly proposition which he is now taking to distributors and ICT reseller partners, in addition to the company’s established network of encryption specialists.
Simplicity and usability
For Andrew, StayPrivate’s key selling point is its simplicity, certainly compared to other solutions that he characterises as ‘fiddly, confusing, expensive and annoying’. “From the start, we wanted something that was a lot easier to use, so we focused on producing a very nice web interface and mobile app, with no complicated sign-in process. You simply click the link and enter your own 4-digit PIN to read the message.”
He adds that StayPrivate has also refined the product to make it more appealing to channel partners that serve the SME market.
“From a technical side, it has been about simplifying the product and making sure it will work with absolutely everything that is already there, in a completely seamless way. We have automated the entire deployment and installation process, so the product can be deployed easily by anybody, with no need for any training.”
Another attraction, according to Adrian, is that StayPrivate is complementary to partners’ existing product offerings. “Partners anywhere in the world can sell this without destabilising existing products. They can provision it; it earns very good margin on an on-going basis; and it actually serves a purpose. It ticks the GDPR compliance box for every SME customer that uses it, and that is an enormous weight off their minds at a time of increasing fines from the ICO office.
“It also gives resellers something different in a very commoditised, me-too reseller market where any customer of any size with any IT or telco requirement can go onto Google and get quotes for the same product from 10 different people. It gives the resellers we work with a powerful commercial edge.”