Email Compliance

How to Ensure Email Compliance for Your Business

Out of 25 cost factors that either amplify or mitigate data breach costs, compliance failures were the top cost amplifying factor, per an IBM security analysis report. As quoted further in the report, “Organizations with a high level of compliance failures (resulting in fines, penalties, and lawsuits) experienced an average cost of a data breach of $5.65 million, compared to $3.35 million at organizations with low levels of compliance failures.” The difference is $2.3 million or 51.1%, which is huge!

This goes on to show the criticality of email compliance. Email is the universal form of communication for businesses – being fast and efficient! But standard email, by design, isn’t completely private. And, many ever-evolving compliance regulations make it important – and challenging -- to keep up.

Here is a quick rundown of everything there is to know about email compliance, some core regulations you should be aware of, and an exploration of important solutions to assist in achieving email compliance every time you send and receive an important message.

What Exactly Is Email Compliance?

Definitions vary. But essentially, as a business, you achieve email compliance when your email data complies with the data privacy and regulatory mandates (think GDPR, HIPAA) and industry standards (think PCI), requiring you to have policies and best practices in place, such as encryption, access controls, data retention, audit logs, and other elements.

If your business does not have either or a few of the tools mentioned above, it means you might not meet the email compliance norms required in your industry. It is especially critical in industries like finance and healthcare, rife with PII (personally identifiable information) and PHI (protected health information), which are sensitive and any compliance violations can cost your business dearly.

Why Is Email Compliance Important?

Email remains an indispensable medium of communication for your business despite the emergence of several alternate platforms. To get a higher ROI out of emails, it becomes critical then to achieve compliance with regulations. Here are just a few reasons why your business must look at email compliance.

  • Rising money laundering, illicit digital payments, and other elements are accelerating the financial crime compliance costs. In the United States and Canada, for instance, the costs rose to $49.8 billion in 2020, a 58% increase compared with 2019, according to a study by LexisNexis.
  • Ransomware attacks are accelerating at a higher pace. They doubled in 2021 on the back of the pandemic-induced shift in remote and hybrid working, leading hackers to exploit new ways to get to your sensitive data.
  • Of course, there is the penalties angle for compliance violations. Compliance regulations like GDPR and HIPAA mandate protection of PII and PHI and any violation attract fines. A data breach report by the law firm DLA Piper shows that the European Union imposed more than $1.2 billion in financial penalties on organizations to resolve alleged violations of the GDPR in 2021 alone. On the other hand, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the United States has settled or imposed a civil money penalty in 106 cases resulting in a total dollar amount of $131,392,632.00 by the end of 2021.

Email Compliance Regulatory Frameworks You Should Know

To prevent sensitive personal or financial data from falling into the wrong hands, governments across the world have enacted frameworks and compliance regulations. To achieve email compliance, it’s critical for businesses to abide by them.

Though there are several region-specific compliance regulations, here are a few major ones that businesses must know:


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA is a data security and protection law, first introduced by the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. It is the gold standard for businesses that deal with people’s medical and health information as it lays down guidelines to protect the patients’ data related to doctor visits, drug, and medication details, etc.


General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR is a relatively new European law introduced in 2018 to regulate data privacy and protection in the European Union and the European Economic Area. And all businesses that deal with European citizens’ data must comply with the GDPR policies when it comes to collecting, storing, and sharing personally identifiable information over email. Though the UK separated from the EU, the country has enacted its own version – UK GDPR – retaining most of the harsh elements and adding a few custom ones.

GDPR defines what is to be achieved rather than how the requirements should be fulfilled. Consequently, it does not state a requirement to use a specific method of encrypting email, but it does require the handler of consumer non-public and personal information to maintain not only privacy of that information, but also the ability to demonstrate compliance with the privacy requirements. These requirements are discussed in detail in the GDPR Article 5 Clause 1(f) and 2, and Article 32 Clause 1(a) and 1(d), which focus on the requirement to protect personal data during transmission with the ability to demonstrate the fact of protection of personal data.


Though not legally binding and not superseding any county, state, or local laws, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was adopted as a general standard by financial institutions worldwide. What this means is any organization that accepts credit or debit card payments, whether in person, over the phone, or online must be compliant. How it relates to email compliance is the email communication of cardholder data, which is considered part of the Cardholder Data Environment. Per PCI requirements, a customer’s CDE must be protected. And PCI compliance, for example, requires transmission layer protocol (TLS) encryption to be no less than TLS 1.2.


There are five main private sector privacy statutes governing the collection, use, disclosure, and management of personal information in Canada, and one that focuses on the public sector.

  • Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, S.C. 2000, ch. 5 (“PIPEDA”)
  • Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act, S.A. 2003, ch. P-6.5 (“PIPA Alberta”)
  • British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act, S.B.C. 2003, ch. 63 (“PIPA BC”)
  • Québec’s An Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector, R.S.Q., ch. P-39.1 (“Québec Privacy Act”). Collectively, referred to as the “Canadian Privacy Statutes”
  • The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), is an Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which legislates access to information held by public institutions in Ontario.

Privacy – The Main Ingredient of Compliance

The most important element of email compliance is privacy. And all the above regulations define what is to be achieved rather than how the requirements should be fulfilled. Let us see how.

  • GDPR: With email being the primary means of business communication today, email privacy is certainly one of the principal areas of inspection in a compliance audit. It is essential for businesses to retain the auditable proof of the fact of private email transmissions. As mentioned above, GDPR regulation itself does not state a requirement to use a specific method of encrypting email, but it does require the data handler of the consumer data to maintain not only the privacy of that information but also the ability to demonstrate compliance with the privacy requirements.
  • HIPAA: The Privacy Rule protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information "protected health information (PHI)." And this PHI assumes significance when it is sent over an email. HIPAA email rules require covered entities to implement access controls, audit controls, integrity controls, ID authentication, and transmission security to restrict access to PHI, monitor how PHI is communicated, ensure the integrity of PHI at rest, 100% message accountability, and protect it from unauthorized access during transit.
  • PCI DSS: Per the PCI DSS requirements, companies are required to protect cardholder data even during transit. However, sending sensitive information such as cardholder data using your standard email means that the data is vulnerable. Requirement 4.1 of the PCI compliance says that no unencrypted credit card data can be transmitted over open, public networks. PCI DSS Requirement 4.2 further prohibits sending unprotected primary account numbers (PANs) via end-user messaging technologies, such as email, instant messaging, SMS, and chat - internally or over public networks.
  • PIPEDA, FIPPA, PIPA: Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, a Canadian privacy law firm has this to say about Section 11 of Chapter 7 in ‘The International Comparative Legal Guide to a practical cross-border insight into data protection law.’ “Under Canadian Privacy Statutes governing the private sector, organizations are responsible for personal information in their custody or control, including personal information transferred to third parties for processing. In general, Canadian Privacy Statutes permit the non-consensual transfer of personal information to third-party processors outside Canada, provided the transferring organisation uses contractual or other means to provide a comparable level of protection while the information is being processed by the foreign processor.”

A good email security solution stack can help your business better manage email compliances. Email encryption is just a part of it; the solution must also help you tackle several cyberattacks and potential data breaches to stay compliant.

It’s here where RMail, a global email security solution from RPost, can help. Its technology is well-positioned for GDPR and HIPAA email compliance and other major compliance regulations. Let us see how.

How RMail Helps Your Business Achieve Email Compliance

Simple to Use

One of the ways a business can achieve email compliance is by encrypting the emails and their contents. But if your users don’t end up adopting the email encryption tool or solution, then you will err on the side of compliance. RMail is simple to use for the sender and the recipient. It runs seamlessly inside Outlook and other email platforms and does not need users to change them. A sender just needs to install a simple plug-in to start using RMail right away – no complicated setups or multiple steps, which encourages more adoption. Similarly, the recipient does not need to install or download anything. They will receive a secure message from the sender in their inbox with “Registered Email™” and “Encrypted” markings, so the email stands out, indicating that the message is encrypted.


Auditable Proof of Privacy Compliance

RMail ensures foolproof delivery of your important or sensitive emails and any confidential attachments to the recipient via the Registered Email™ service. The sender gets a “Registered Receipt,” which offers an email record for court-admissible, timestamped proof of the content delivered, and advanced open tracking. You can use this receipt to tackle any disputes in court, giving you verifiable proof of fact of content delivered, timestamped delivery, and proof of fact of encryption compliance - court accepted, internationally for more than a decade. RPost’s cryptographic methods will also tell you if any information in the receipt has been altered, employing hash algorithms and RSA/PKI signatures – providing proof that the receipt and the original email content it can re-construct are authentic originals.

A “Registered Encryption™” receipt can be added, which provides additional visibility and auditable proof of fact of encrypted delivery and level of encryption at each path from sender to each recipient.

Double-Layered Encryption

RMail offers double-layered encryption protocols – in case the sender wants to ensure the content remains private at the recipient inbox even if there is a breach at the recipient in the future.

The “Transmission Encryption Preferred” is RMail’s default encryption mode, which tests the security line and if it can encrypt the transmission at the sender’s desired minimum encryption level, does so in a way that auto-decrypts the messages for the recipients at their server, using transport layer security (TLS), a cryptographic protocol that provides end-to-end data encryption between applications over the Internet. The recipients can open the email and attachments right in their inbox, without having to enter any credentials, click links, or download any software. They can also reply securely to the sender.

If the recipient’s system doesn’t support the sender’s desired minimum TLS encryption levels, or if there is no secure transmission potential in place for that message to that recipient at that time, RMail will automatically revert to an alternate secure message encryption mode – the “Message Level Encryption.” This option wraps the message and all attachments in a AES 256-bit PDF encryption wrapper ensuring that there is end-to-end encryption for private delivery. The sender can choose to set a password for the recipients to decrypt the message or let RMail auto-generate one. RMail also allows the recipient to reply encrypted without the need to create an account.

There are many options and configurations. For example, a sender can choose to have their email encrypted at their workstation and pass through their internal networks encrypted, or encrypt outbound at their gateway.

Email Compliance Double Layered Encryption
Ec Domain Age Detector

Prevention Against Human Errors and Socially Engineered Attacks

Losses to businesses due to careless (unintentional) errors or coordinated cyberattacks are huge. RMail’s AI-infused security layers help you avoid these errors and achieve email compliance in the process; not to mention, even prevent your businesses from monetary and reputation losses.

Right Recipient™: Have you ever sent an email with sensitive information to the wrong recipient? Most of us have experienced it in one form or the other. RMail has several automated features after the user hits send or reply buttons, but before the messages are actually sent, to remind them to re-verify if the address is correct. Here is a demonstration in the accompanying image. Most of us are familiar with Outlook’s auto-complete feature. When a user finishes typing the message and enters a name (not the email address – most of us will not enter an email address, but only the name) in the “To” field, Outlook’s auto-complete will prompt several suggestions. Like here, Outlook is prompting the sender three options for Hugo Smith when they simply type “H.”

The user selects the first option that comes right up and clicks SEND. All of this happens in an instant, which does not give a user the time to verify if the recipient they chose was the right one. It is here that RMail comes in handy as right after the “send” button is clicked, RMail’s Right Recipient™ prompts the user to re-verify the email address.

Right Recipient, then in a way, helps detect several clever ways cybercriminals employ to re-route the “sent” email to them, or even detect if a recipient’s address includes a “lookalike domain” designed to fool the sender into thinking the email is going to an intended recipient, when in fact, it routes to the cybercriminal.

Ec Right Recipient Alert

This domain age detection functionality of the Right Recipient presents the sender with key information, as newer domains are more likely to be associated with wire fraud and other cybercrime vectors. Relatively new domains are highlighted in yellow or red, as they are more likely to be clever misspells of real email addresses and potential threats to email security. The Anti-Whaling™ module makes RMail even more robust by cleverly detecting impostor emails and alerting the sender, preventing naïve replies. These alerts prompt users to double-check recipient addresses if RMail’s RSecurity AI engine determines that the sender is about to misaddress a sensitive email, i.e., if they are about to share sensitive information with the wrong recipient, either due to human error or because the domain is a clever misspell of a real domain.

For instance, in the accompanying picture, users are cautioned about the domain age associated with the email address, as “7 days” – indicative of the fact that the email address was newly created and likely to fool the sender as compared to the other email address,, whose domain age is 22 years, and is safe. Also, notice the “r” missing from David’s email address – another indicator of a lookalike domain. Such small details often easily escape the attention of the users. RMail’s combination of the Right Recipient and Anti-Whaling modules alerts the users at the right moment so they do not end up sharing sensitive information with the wrong recipient.

RMail Recommends: The business email compromise (BEC) attacks are rising and are costing businesses a lot in terms of money as well as reputation. Per the latest Osterman Research study conducted at the end of 2021 on 119 respondents across industries and organization sizes, such attacks can be attributed to ill-prepared staff and outdated training usually being delivered out-of-context. Most email security solutions by design disrupt the flow of work, leading to poor user adoption. The RMail Recommends™ feature solves this problem. It is specially designed to assist, train, and sensitize users right when they are in the moment of sending an email and has been proven to both boost adoption and raise eSecurity awareness. RMail Recommends™ uses advanced AI to predict what messages the sender might want to treat in a special manner and gently nudges the senders to encrypt them, making it easy to track, prove, and certify such emails, protecting not just against crimes like wire fraud but also abide by compliance.

The accompanying image shows this functionality in action. Once the users type their email and hit the “Send” button, RMail will immediately alert them if they would want to encrypt their messages. And this happens right BEFORE the email is sent.


Content Controls

Protect-the-Thread™: Have you ever wished you could redact or eliminate content after you send the email? There could be several reasons for doing it. You might have been in a rush and didn’t check thoroughly before sending. RMail’s E-Security Content Controls allow you to automatically erase sensitive content from an email thread after the recipient reads it to eliminate the risk of data leaks with unsecured replies and forwarded email chains.

RMail’s patent-pending, Disappearing Ink™, Redact+™, and Double Blind CC™ features let you tag certain content so it disappears from the recipient’s inbox after they read once, after a set time, or block sensitive or compromising information (bank numbers, login info et al) from emails that get replied to or forwarded in a chain or are bcc’d. When the recipient’s sensitive information isn’t compromised, your business has achieved one of the highest levels of email compliance.

Automated Encryption Compliance

RMail Gateway: As mentioned above, the “RMail Recommends” feature automates the encryption compliance - both, at the mail client (Outlook) and at the Outlook levels. RMail’s AI learns and adapts over time based on user behavior to offer security alerts in real-time. But the AI also helps you achieve email compliance by automating encryption right at the server level. Your IT teams can automate encryption for all users whether they send emails from their mobile devices, different email programs, or CRM applications with RMail Gateway. Senders don’t have to do anything – all the emails will be automatically encrypted via pre-defined rules.

For instance, if your IT team sets certain keywords in the message or subject, such as “wire,” “file transfer,” and “invoice,” under the rule conditions, all emails will be automatically encrypted with your team getting alerts while sending a message. RMail Gateway enables an unlimited variety of customizable rules and combinations, keeps tabs on where your data is traveling and prevents it from falling into wrong hands. This is a powerful weapon in your arsenal to achieve email compliance.


Manage Email Compliances Effectively with RMail

Email compliance and security are crucial for any business. Understanding and establishing strong email compliance guidelines across your company can help but will only take you so far. To tackle sophisticated cyberattacks and potential data breaches, you need a strong email security solution as your partner.

RMail is simple to use and is much more affordable at scale for the slate of email security features it provides. Try RMail to manage your email compliance effectively, for free!