State of Alaska, Department of Administration, Enterprise Technology Services

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Secure eMail

Frequently Asked Questions

Secure eMail Justification:

The Personal Information Protection Act, which went into effect on July 1, 2009, has resulted in changes to the way the State of Alaska conducts business with agency partners, contractors and the public. Though the Act doesn’t indicate encryption is required, it’s essentially the only appropriate way to guarantee information is secure while in transit and is a prudent measure in ensuring the un-tampered with delivery of Personal Identifiable Information and Electronic Protected Health Information.

Why did I receive a Secure eMail with secure.html as an attachment from the State of Alaska?

The sender has sent you content which has been identified by the State of Alaska to require encryption when leaving the Alaska.gov address space and your receiving Email service isn’t configured to require communications be passed using TLS or other encrypted tunnel technology exclusively.

The data I received doesn’t appear to contain any SSN’s or Credit Card numbers. Why did this message encrypt?

There are several reasons your email may have encrypted even though it didn’t appear to contain any Personal Identifiable Information. Reasons we’ve seen range from html coded coordinates within the stationary of the message which may be perceived as a credit card number to Excel cells being merged and considered a single string of text. If a cell has a 3 digit number (123) followed by another cell with 2 digits (45) and the next cell contains 4 digits (6789), then together this looks like 123 45 6789 and that string matches a pattern defined for the scanning engine. If you’d like the specific reason, please contact the message originator and have them initiate a ticket asking for a justification for the encryption action.  

It appears I received a Secure eMail from the State of Alaska but rather than securedoc.html my attachment contains a .att extension.

This is due to your mail domain restricting .html attachments. You can either contact your organizations mail administrators to have them enable the receiving of .html attachments globally or at least from the Alaska.gov domain, or you can contact the sender and attempt to find another means of transporting the data.

Can I avoid receiving encrypted content from the State of Alaska and still ensure my communications are secure?

As it’s noted on the bottom of your notification message, if you’d prefer to receive these communications un-encrypted please contact the State of Alaska Service Center and request “that a TLS connection be configured for your email domain.” You’ll need to provide the Service Center with the domain information for which you receive email, such as yourname@yourdomain.com.

What is a Secure Envelope / Message / Email?

The State of Alaska uses email encryption to safely transmit the email’s content across the Internet. Email encryption is similar to a letter being placed into an envelope and sealed. We scramble the information inside the email (including attachments) and send it. The recipient has a software encryption key (their password) that allows them to open (unseal) the message.

Do I need any special software to view Secure eMails sent by the State of Alaska?

No. The system utilizes a combination of email and html. Therefore, if you have email of any kind and are able to access the Internet, you have everything you need to use the Cisco Registered Envelope Service.

Do I need a Username and Password to open Secure eMail?

Yes. Your username is your Email address and is created when you register with the Cisco Registered Envelope Service upon receiving your first Secure email. You determine your password, taking into account the complexity requirements displayed on the screen, when you register.

Why, when I click on the attachment to open it, does my text editor open and display code?

Your computer is configured to open .html files in an editor by default. Within Windows Explorer under Tools | Folder Options, select the File Types tab and scroll through the Registered file types list until you get to HTML and click the change button. Select Internet Explorer or Firefox under Recommended Programs, or click Browse to navigate to your preferred browser. Alternatively, you can save and drag the attachment into a browser window if you’d prefer to leave your file associations as they are.

I can’t remember the password I used to register with the Cisco Registered Envelope Service.

When attempting to open a Secure eMail, directly under the password field, you have a “Forgot password?” link. Click the link and follow the on screen instructions. Note that you must have already registered to have forgotten a previously configured password. Without first registering, Secure eMail can’t determine where to send your temporary password, which would be valid for 3 hours.

Even though I’ve registered with the Cisco Registered Envelope Service and know my password, I can’t retrieve my Secure eMail.

Re-execute the attachment from the locally saved location. You should have a “Password:” field to enter your password with an “OPEN” button to click once your password is entered.

I still cannot open my locally saved secure.html attachment.

Forward the original Secure eMail (with attachment) to mobile@res.cisco.com. You should almost immediately receive an email back with a link to your Secure eMail on the Internet. You’ll be required to re-authenticate with the password you used to originally register and then the message contents will be displayed in your browser at https://res.cisco.com/envelopeopener/...

Do I have to create an account (register) with Secure eMail for every email account I receive Secure eMails to?

Yes. If your secure envelope doesn’t contain a password field and OPEN button, you’ll most likely be presented with a REGISTER button. This is an indication that you haven’t registered with Secure email from the address in the To: field of the secure envelope.

My Envelope is not displayed properly and/or my OPEN button is gone.

If you have a problem displaying the envelope to enter your password or initially register, forward the original email (with attachment) to mobile@res.cisco.com. You should almost immediately receive an email back with a link to your Secure email on the Internet. You’ll be required to re-authenticate with the password you used to originally register and then the message contents will be displayed in your browser at https://res.cisco.com/envelopeopener/.....

What if I want to change my password?

Navigate to the interface and log in. Click on the “Edit Profile” tab on the left. Enter your new password in the “New Password” field and again in the “Confirm Password” field and at the very bottom, enter your existing password and click the yellow “Save Profile” button.

Can I send a Secure eMail to the State of Alaska?

Yes and No. Navigate to the interface and log on with the account you registered with when you initially received a Secure eMail. If you’ve never received a Secure eMail and don’t have an account you’ll need to first receive one. Ask your SOA contact to send you a Secure eMail so you can either reply securely, or initiate Secure eMails from the interface. The reason the email is secure is because the URL is within the State of Alaska WAN. You’re composing the message contents through an AES 256bit encrypted SSL established connection to the interface. The actual message and content, since it’s within the SOA environment is not encrypted, though the transmission through the Internet to the Secure eMail system is. In summary, though the message is not encrypted, its transmission is and this configuration meets the need for secure transmission.

Can I reply back to the original sender of the Secure eMail in a secure manner?

Yes. Once you’ve opened a Secure eMail, simply hit the “Reply” button and provide your correspondence within the field provided. You may not add additional recipients to a reply unless they’re within the Alaska.gov domain.

Why can’t I specify additional addresses to my Secure Reply All?

This configuration has been decided against in an effort to mitigate personal information dissemination and State of Alaska resource abuse. The ability to specify additional recipients at Alaska.gov shouldn’t be infringed.

Why can’t I forward a Secure eMail except to Alaska.gov recipients?

This configuration has been decided against in an effort to mitigate personal information dissemination and State of Alaska resource abuse. The ability to forward the message to recipients @Alaska.gov shouldn’t be infringed.

Can I send/receive attachments through the Secure eMail Center?

Yes. The body of the email and all attachments are encrypted when you log in and send mail through the interface. When you reply to a Secure eMail the maximum message size with attachments is 20mb.

What is the largest attachment I can send through the Secure email Center?

When you initiate a Secure email from the Secure email Center at the interface each attachment is limited to 20mb with total message size limited to 20mb. Remember, although these size restrictions are specific to the Secure eMail (State of Alaska) side of the email equation, the recipient domain may have more restrictive limitations for overall message size and respond with a 552 NDR (Non Delivery Report) in accordance with RFC2821.

What type and level of Email encryption is used in Secure eMail Center Emails?

AES 256bit encryption.

Will I be able to save an attachment to my computer?

Yes. Once you’ve created an account and authenticated with the Cisco Registered Envelope Service you can retrieve and save your attachments to your computer’s hard drive. Those documents will not require a password to open. However, the Secure eMail will always remain encrypted and require you to enter your password each time you open it.

Why do I receive a copy of Email that I compose within the interface back to Alaska.gov?

This is a courtesy configuration decided upon since external users don’t have a sent items record of correspondence when composing mail from the interface. That record becomes encrypted as well since it left the encryption appliance web interface.