9 cloud and on-premises email security suites compared

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Email remains the soft underbelly of enterprise security because it is the most tempting target for hackers. They just need one victim to succumb to a phishing lure to enter your network. Phishing (in all its forms) is just one of many attacks that can leverage a poorly protected email infrastructure. Account takeovers (due to reused passwords), business email compromises, payment fraud, specialized mobile malware, and spam messages that contain hidden malware or poisoned web links. That places a heavy burden on any email security solution.

This is nothing new: Some email security products – and email exploits – have been around in one form or another for decades. What is new is having more cloud-capable products that can install across an entire enterprise in minutes and include a variety of related protective measures. These products can also play well with other clouds and leverage the built-in security from Microsoft and Google without having to rip it out or neutralize it entirely.

Some of the tools have seen significant updates over the past few years, incorporating what used to be considered separate products (such as data loss prevention or encryption tools) and have kept pace with the latest updates to email security protocols.

We examined nine email security suites:

  • Abnormal Security’s Integrated Cloud Email Security
  • Area 1’s Horizon
  • Barracuda Email Protection
  • Cisco Secure Email
  • FireEye Email Security
  • Voltage SecureMail
  • Mimecast Email Security
  • Trustifi
  • Zix Secure Cloud Email Security Suite

The email security market seems to be heating up. FireEye and McAfee have merged through two separate buyouts from Symphony Technology Group. Voltage is now owned by MicroFocus/CyberRes. Startup Abnormal Security launched its product in October. We also contacted several vendors that declined to participate: Avanan (which was acquired earlier this year by Check Point), Trend Micro, Proofpoint, ArmorBlox and Ironscales.

The reason for the descriptor “security suites” is because these products do more than just send and receive your emails. A few products, such as Area 1 and Cisco, don’t support the mail retrieval POP and IMAP protocols and just focus on the SMTP sending mail stream. That finer point aside, these products also support the trio of secure email protocols (DKIM, SPF and DMARC). Some products began life by providing anti-phishing and anti-spam protection and have continued to innovate by using the latest machine learning techniques to detect new exploits.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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