Email is a critical communication tool for businesses today. However, emails can also be a major vulnerability if not properly secured. Spam, spoofing, phishing and other attacks can lead to data breaches, reputational damage, and financial losses.
According to Verizon‘s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing was involved in 36% of data breaches, making it the top attack vector. With the rise in remote work due to COVID-19, email threats have become even more prevalent.
Fortunately, there are robust email security solutions available to help protect your business. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the top 9 options to consider based on features, strengths and pricing.
Why You Need Email Security
Before diving into the solutions, let‘s first understand why email security matters. Here are some of the main threats businesses face:
Spam: Unwanted junk mail wastes productivity and bandwidth. Spam messages can also contain malware payloads.
Spoofing: Emails pretend to be from someone else, like your CEO. This tricks users into revealing sensitive data.
Phishing: Spear phishing targets specific individuals with social engineering to get them to click malicious links or attachments.
Malware: Viruses, worms, trojans and ransomware can infect your network via email attachments and links.
Data exfiltration: Sensitive data like customer records can be stolen and exfiltrated via email by insiders or external attackers.
The impacts of these threats include:
- Financial fraud and theft
- Intellectual property loss
- Reputational harm
- Regulatory non-compliance fines
- Operational disruptions
- Credential theft enabling further attacks
With email being the #1 attack vector, putting strong protections in place needs to be a top priority.
Key Email Security Capabilities
When evaluating solutions, here are some of the most important capabilities to look for:
Anti-spam filtering: Blocks unwanted commercial and malicious spam emails. Should use advanced techniques like machine learning.
Anti-phishing: Prevents spear phishing using behavioral analysis to detect social engineering tactics. Checks embedded URLs.
Anti-malware: Scans attachments, URLs and content for viruses, trojans, worms and other malware payloads.
Impersonation detection: Prevents business email compromise (BEC) scams by detecting spoofed domains.
Data loss prevention: Stops sensitive data exfiltration by insiders or external attackers.
Encryption: Encrypts emails end-to-end to prevent snooping of sensitive communications.
Sandboxing: Detonates suspicious attachments in a safe sandbox environment to analyze behavior.
Reporting: Provides visibility into threats detected and blocked with detailed reporting.
Incident response: Specialist support to contain and respond to targeted attacks that evade initial defenses.
Cloud-based: No hardware required, seamless to deploy, automatic updates.
Mail server integration: Works with on-prem Exchange/Office 365, G Suite, and other mail platforms.
With an understanding of key requirements, let‘s explore top email security solutions on the market.
1. Proofpoint Email Protection
Proofpoint offers a robust email security solution covering all the key areas. It uses a layered defense of anti-spam, anti-phishing, anti-malware and data loss prevention powered by machine learning.
- Stops fraudulent business email compromise attacks with lookalike domain detection
- Blocks ransomware and zero-day threats using static and dynamic analysis
- Machine learning engine analyzes millions of messages to detect emerging threats
- Isolated sandbox environment detonates attachments and rewrites URLs to neutralize risks
- Advanced data loss prevention policies based on keywords, file types and other content-aware methods
- Detailed security reporting dashboard provides admins visibility into threats
- Protection available for Office 365, G Suite, and on-premises Exchange email
- Incident response services provide expert help with targeted email attacks
Proofpoint offers a range of pricing options customized for your business. Overall, Proofpoint Email Protection provides one of the industry‘s most advanced email security solutions.
2. Mimecast Email Security
Mimecast uses a multi-layered approach spanning threat protection, resilience and archiving. It aims to offer comprehensive email protection.
- Real-time threat intelligence feeds quickly block emerging spam and malware campaigns
- URL sandboxing rewrites links to intercept malicious websites targeting users
- Impersonation protection prevents sophisticated BEC attacks and brand exploitation
- Detailed impersonation reporting to identify fraud attempts using your domain
- Policy-based encryption for compliance with data privacy regulations
- Backed by security operations centers and threat analysts to contain advanced threats
- Perpetual email archiving for legal/regulatory compliance and eDiscovery
- Available as software, hardware appliance and pure cloud-based service
Mimecast solutions start around $14 per user/month. It‘s a leading enterprise-grade email security platform with advanced features.
3. Cisco Email Security
Cisco Email Security provides a robust on-premise appliance combining anti-spam, anti-virus, data loss prevention and encryption.
- Real-time threat intelligence blocks emerging spam campaigns and malware
- Advanced malware protection with file reputation analysis and sandboxing
- Data loss prevention with smart filters based on keywords, file types and metadata
- Encryption available to secure sensitive emails and comply with privacy laws
- Policy-based email routing, blocking and quarantining options
- Detailed monitoring and analytics into email traffic and threats
- Available as physical or virtual appliance with clustering for high availability
- Integrates with Cisco security products like firewalls for layered defense
Cisco Email Security pricing starts around $9 per user/month. Overall, it provides enterprise-class email protection on-premise.
4. Barracuda Email Security
Barracuda Email Security offers multi-layered protection against email-based attacks. It aims to be easy to use while still providing advanced threat detection.
- Cloud-based protection against spam, malware, phishing and data exfiltration
- Link and URL protection scans websites for threats at time of click
- AI and heuristic rules engine to detect constantly evolving social engineering
- Attachment sandboxing in a cloud-based isolated environment
- Agentless email encryption secures sensitive communications
- Archiving for compliance and eDiscovery with Boolean search
- Intrusion prevention protects against denial of service attacks
- Automated incident response and forensics when threats are detected
- Centralized management across multiple Barracuda products
Barracuda email protection plans start at $14.95 per user/month. It provides robust cloud-based email security without complexity.
5. Microsoft Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
Microsoft offers built-in email protection for Office 365 through its Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) add-on. It aims to be easy to enable for existing O365 users.
- Real-time link checking blocks users from malicious websites
- Automated incident response triggers playbooks to contain impacts
- Behavioral analysis models flag suspicious email patterns
- Rich reporting details threats detected across email, OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint
- AI and machine learning engine trained on billions of data points
- Detection of business email compromise spoofing attempts
- Integrated into Office 365 admin portal for simple management
- Additional protections like Safe Links, Safe Attachments and anti-phishing
Microsoft ATP pricing starts at $2 per user/month. Overall, it provides robust protection tightly integrated into O365.
6. SolarWinds Email Security
SolarWinds offers a full-featured on-premise email security gateway combining anti-spam, antivirus, encryption and data loss prevention.
- Real-time threat detection backed by threat intelligence feeds
- Link and URL analysis to detect websites delivering malware
- Isolated virtual environment detonates and analyzes attachments
- Content-aware DLP engine with fingerprinting options
- Agile encryption protects sensitive emails and supports compliance
- Anomaly detection identifies behavioral outliers and compromised accounts
- Flexible on-premise deployment as hardware or software appliance
- Detailed monitoring, analytics and reporting for admins
- Integrates with existing SolarWinds infrastructure management
SolarWinds Email Security pricing starts around $4 per mailbox/month. Overall, it provides a robust on-premise email protection platform.
7. Trend Micro Email Security
Trend Micro offers cloud-based and on-premise email security against phishing, business email compromise, malware and other threats.
- URL analysis checks links at time of click against web reputation database
- AI and machine learning detect new targeted spear phishing tactics
- Vulnerability protection blocks emails attempting to exploit known flaws
- Behavioral analysis spots anomalies like sudden sending of sensitive data
- Integrated threat intelligence feeds power real-time protections
- Advanced malware analysis and sandboxing
- Agentless encryption secures communications
- Available as SaaS, virtual appliance, software and hardware options
- Centralized visibility and control across endpoints, network, email
Trend Micro email protection pricing starts at $1.50 per user/month. It provides a flexible solution for cloud and on-premises.
8. Symantec Email Security.cloud
Symantec offers a robust cloud-based email security platform covering all the core protection areas enterprises need.
- Real-time updating against new spam and phishing threats
- Isolated sandboxing detonates attachments to block malware
- Link protection scans URLs at time of click to avoid Web threats
- Powerful data loss prevention engine with exact data matching
- Encryption available to secure communications
- Detailed analytics into email traffic patterns and security alerts
- Tight integration with Symantec Endpoint Protection for defense-in-depth
- Easy deployment as pure cloud-based SaaS solution
- API integration allows automation with other security tools
Symantec Email Security.cloud starts at $1.50 per user/month. It provides advanced protection backed by threat research.
9. FireEye Email Security
FireEye offers a cloud-hosted email security solution focused on real-time threat detection. It aims to detect and block sophisticated, targeted email attacks.
- Multi-layer virtual execution environment detects zero-day threats
- Integrated threat intelligence feeds power real-time detections
- Link analysis to detect websites delivering malware or phishing
- Behavioral analysis spots anomalous communication patterns
- Detailed security analytics provide visibility into threats
- Automated forensics speed incident response when threats detected
- Available as hardware, virtual or cloud-based deployment
- Modular licensing allows a-la-carte purchase of specific protections
FireEye Email Security starts at $15 per user/month. It‘s focused specifically on advanced email threats.
Key Considerations When Choosing an Email Security Solution
With many options on the market, here are some key considerations when selecting an email security solution for your business:
Deployment model – Evaluate whether you want a cloud-based vs on-premise solution. Cloud options are faster to deploy but some prefer on-premise for total control.
Email environment – The solution should integrate smoothly with your existing email infrastructure like Office 365.
Current protections – Factor in what email safeguards you already have in place like Exchange Server protections.
Team skills – Cloud solutions require less internal management whereas on-premise options need a skilled security team.
Hybrid workforce – With remote workers, ensure protection travels with users outside the office perimeter.
Cost – Factor in per user pricing and any annual contracts. Can start trial to test protection quality.
Reporting – Solution should provide visibility into threats detected with detailed analytics.
Support – Look for 24/7 technical support in case issues arise with the solution.
By carefully evaluating your specific environment and needs, you can determine the right email security fit for your organization‘s threat landscape and budget.
Email remains the top digital attack vector that businesses face because of its ubiquity. Spam, phishing, spoofing and malware can lead to costly data breaches and operational disruption.
Fortunately, purpose-built email security solutions can provide layered protections using advanced techniques like machine learning, behavioral analysis and sandboxing. Leading options such as Proofpoint, Mimecast, and Barracuda offer robust email threat prevention.
To determine the best solution for your needs, closely evaluate deployment models, email environment integration, skills and budget. With a solid email security foundation in place, you can substantially lower risk and avoid becoming the next phishing headline.