Review: E-lock S/M toolkit

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Review: E-lock  S/M toolkit

Rather than being a secure email product by itself, S/MIME Toolkit is a set of Java-based tools that work with the email environment to provide seamless integration with the email client. This is really for developers and it is strongly enterprise-centric.

The toolkit encrypts MIME (multipurpose internet mail extensions) messages and then treats them as it would any email message. The user is completely unaware of the underlying process.

A facility to unencrypt the message is needed at the other end. While this is the case with all products of this kind, E-Lock's solution is somewhat more restrictive, requiring the S/MIME Toolkit at the recipient end.

S/MIME Toolkit is transparent when used in an Outlook or Outlook Express environment, but is taxing for the average user in a different setting. We found that the use of the toolkit outside an Outlook environment required the explicit creation of input and output files when encrypting/unencrypting and signing.

We do not recommend this product as a standalone email system or as an adjunct to any email system other than in an environment where it can perform transparently.

Implementing the toolkit appears simple at first, and there is an 11-page installation guide to help. However, we had difficulty getting everything up and running correctly. Put simply, while this is a good solution, it is not for the faint-hearted and is certainly not a plug-and-play email security product. However, being a Java application, it is applicable to things other than email such as application-to-application communications.

Documentation consists of an installation guide and an API document. We thought the documentation weak considering the type of product. There is a support program at an extra cost, but the product depends heavily on integrated help, which we found useful but not adequate to replace a support program.

At around $5000, we find that the toolkit is priced appropriately. However, the lifecycle cost of this product strongly depends on the skills of the engineers deploying and supporting it, as well as on the size and type of the deployment. That makes E-Lock S/MIME Toolkit, at best, average value for most.

For: This can fit into an email or an application-to-application environment

Against: Difficult to implement, requires a compatible toolkit at the other end

Verdict: If you have a specialised application, this is the product for you -as long as you can implement and support it.


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