As email moves to the cloud, organizations must rethink their email security strategies. We take a closer look at the best email security solutions on the market today.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of cloud computing have had a significant impact on how modern companies do business. Remote work pushed many companies to accelerate their adoption of cloud-based solutions, identifying cloud-based solutions to support a distributed workforce.
One of the most widely-used Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions is cloud-based email. However, as email moves from on-prem email servers to the cloud, organizations must rethink their email security strategies.
Email is one of the most common attack vectors for malware delivery, data exfiltration, and other cyber threats. Email security is a vital component of an enterprise cybersecurity strategy. When email was on-premises, Secure Email Gateways (SEG) made sense, and efficiently and effectively protected corporate email. However, due to the “new normal”, email moved to the cloud at an accelerated rate.
The shift to cloud-based webmail is forcing companies reliant on legacy email gateway architectures to adapt. In 2021, the market size of email security solutions was $3.65 billion with a CAGR of 14.4%.
For an email security solution to identify and block email-based threats, emails must be routed through the email gateway. This creates challenges for legacy email gateway vendors that designed their solutions with on-prem email servers in mind. In contrast, other solutions are designed for cloud-based email and distributed enterprise.
One of the primary differences between legacy on-prem and cloud-based email solutions is how they direct traffic to the email gateway. The two main approaches are via MX records and application programming interfaces (APIs).
An MX record is part of the DNS record associated with a particular domain. The purpose of the MX record is to identify the IP address of the domain’s email server or mail transfer agent, enabling inbound emails to be routed to that server.
When deploying a legacy SEG, an organization must change its MX records to point to the IP address of that gateway. This enables emails to be routed through the gateway but has significant downsides, including:
SEGs need to rewrite MX records because they lack the ability to directly integrate with email solutions. As a result, they need to reroute email to pass through them on the way to the email solution to provide security.
However, many modern email solutions expose APIs designed to allow a third-party service provider to query and manage a user’s delivered email. This provides the ability to implement email security within the corporate email platform rather than as a standalone solution reliant on intercepting emails en route.
Some cloud-based email providers offer API access to emails within an account. For example, Microsoft 365 includes the Microsoft Graph API, which allows a third-party service to query the emails delivered to the customer. This API can be set up quickly and easily via OAuth authentication.
Using Microsoft Graph API and similar API-based solutions, it is possible for a third-party provider to offer the following services:
An email security solution that uses API-based integration can be far more effective than an MX record-based approach. For example, Check Point Harmony Email is 44x more effective at keeping phishing emails from reaching a user’s inbox than legacy email gateways using MX record approaches.
An organization can implement email security with various solutions. Some of the major email security companies in the space include Check Point, Proofpoint, Mimecast, and cloud email providers such as Google and Microsoft. These solutions take different approaches to email security and provide different feature sets, resulting in varying levels of effectiveness at email protection.
44x more effective than legacy gateway approaches like Proofpoint, Mimecast, and Barracuda
93x more effective than Microsoft
The Check Point Harmony Email and Collaboration suite provides email security protection for Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and other collaboration and file-sharing applications. Some of the main benefits of Harmony include:
Proofpoint Essentials is Proofpoint’s basic email security offering, which includes support for cloud-based email platforms such as Microsoft 365. Some limitations of Proofpoint Essentials include:
Mimecast M2 is an email security solution based on traditional gateway approaches to email security. Some of the shortcomings of Mimecast M2 email security include:
Cloud email providers like Microsoft and Google provide integrated email security features for their users. However, these solutions have their limitations, such as:
Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is included with all Microsoft O365 packages, while Defender Plan 1 & 2 are add-ons. However, all of these solutions have the following shortcomings:
Check Point’s Harmony Email & Collaboration suite (previously Avanan) is a cloud-native solution that delivers security via API with internal context and advanced machine learning to stop the most pernicious attacks. Unlike other API solutions, Harmony is the only one on the market that acts as a full-fledged, standalone email security solution. Harmony detects and stops the evasive attacks that bypass Microsoft security and that other email security solutions miss.
A Email Security solution must include certain key features to provide effective protection to an organization.
Here is a summary of the main points:
“Grace has deployed Office 365 cloud based email solution…. We were experiencing significant phishing attacks; within three months we were in trouble. We turned to our trusted partner Check Point and deployed Harmony Email & Office. Within an hour we had the product up and running. Within the second hour we had it properly tuned and it was catching emails immediately…”
– David Antlitz, Global Manager, Security and Firewall Technologies, Grace
“We exchange a lot of sensitive data, through a lot of emails…. Data security is critical. It’s not a question of ‘if’ you’re being attacked, it’s ‘when’… We had another provider, but Check Point was the first to introduce a threat emulation feature... It’s a ‘set and forget’ solution, it gives end users the confidence to know that the mail in their mailbox has already passed security checks and is secure”
– Kristof Poppe, IT Manager, Gimv
Cloud technology plays an important role in Canal Bank’s strategy… Canal Bank chose Harmony Email & Office, a cloud service that is built specifically to fight cloud email and productivity suite threats… “We have been using Harmony Email & Office for the last year, and during that time we have stopped approximately 1400 phishing attacks”… “The solution also defended us from about 800 malware attacks… Check Point also provides reports that give me thorough visibility into threats targeting our email platform.”