Detecting threats to your email system requires more than just spam blocking. Threat vectors are launched from several angles at once these days. Hackers have developed packages of malware, each performing a specialized task to contribute towards the corruption of your system or the theft of your data.
If you are here for the tools and haven’t got time to read the whole post, here is our list of the ten best email protection solutions:
- Trustifi Inbound Shield EDITOR’S CHOICE This cloud-based service integrates into your mail server through a plug-in and scans all incoming emails for malicious content. You can access a demo.
- N-able Mail Assure (FREE TRIAL) Cloud-based threat protection system for email servers. Start a 30-day free trial.
- Avanan Account Takeover Protection This module is bundled with all Avanan email protection packages.
- FortiMail An email server protection system from a leading network security provider.
- Symantec Email Security.cloud Threat protection for cloud-based corporate mail servers.
- SolarWinds Spam Experts An email protection system aimed at web hosts and ISPs.
- Trend Micro Hosted Email Security Email security delivered from the clouds in Standard and Advanced editions.
- Sophos Email Security Available as an appliance, a virtual machine, or a cloud service, this product provides comprehensive protection for all email traffic.
- F-Secure Email and Server Security Protects Microsoft Exchange Server and other general servers.
- Kaspersky Security for Mail Server Spam blocker and anti-malware system to prevent damage to email servers.
Emails are a key source of information and they can also be used by malware to mail out stolen data. Blocking those multifaceted attacks requires multiple defense strategies. The protection of your email system is a complicated task and very few security products on the market can fulfill all requirements adequately.
Fortunately, there are a few excellent email protection systems out there and we have tracked them down. Businesses are not identical and with many different email deployment options these days, even the requirements to protect an email server can’t be delivered by a one-size-fits-all strategy. So, we have compiled a list of ten email protection solutions, each of which caters to a specific business model and email server configuration.
The best email protection solutions
This list of options includes specialist protection for cloud-based mail servers, solutions suitable for MSPs, web hosts, systems that operate as an appliance, managed protection services, cloud-based solutions, and on-premises software. Reading through the detailed descriptions of each of these solutions should help you to work out which protection system is suitable for your business.
What should you look for in an email protection system?
We reviewed the market for email protection solutions and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:
- An edge service that can receive all incoming emails
- A blacklist of known spammers
- A phishing detection service
- Link scanning
- Attachment scanning
- A free trial or demo system for a no-cost assessment
- Value for money represented by effective email protection at a reasonable price
With these selection criteria in mind, we identified some outstanding email protection services that are suitable for businesses of all sizes.
The next sections explain each email protection solution in detail.
Trustifi Inbound Shield integrates into your mail system through a plug-in so you don’t host the threat detection system on your own servers. This lightweight protection system can also be integrated into Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
The plug-in calls scanning routines that search through all incoming emails. The system uses AI-based procedures to detect malware. It also looks for links to fake and infected websites and looks for impersonation and spam attempts.
- Hosted on the cloud
- Scans for malware
- Identifies spam and impersonations
- Validates attachments
As well as using AI processes, the system refers to spam source address blacklists. It looks for imitation email and web domains to identify impersonation attempts. As well as its Inbound Shield, Trustifi offers an Outbound Shield and an Account Compromise Detection system. Both of these modules operate on emails and run on the Trustifi cloud server.
The Outbound Shield service operates a data loss prevention system. It identifies sensitive data in emails and uploads those emails to a server. The recipient gets a link to view the content over a secure connection. Each sensitive data transmission is logged and the service provides analysis over user activity. This activity analyzer also identifies account takeover events and forms the Account Compromise Detection system.
- Provides instant checks from a remote server
- Identifies malware and malicious links
- Block fishing and impersonation attempts
- Integrates with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
- Demo is good, but would prefer a free trial.
Trustifi’s system is easy to set up and the inclusion of the required plug-in into your email system is managed from the account setup system. You can tailor the protection system to the requirements of specific data protection standards, such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR. You can access a free demo of Trustifi and request a quote.
Trustifi Inbound Shield is our top pick for an email protection solution because it plugs into your email server to channel emails through the Trustifi cloud system for scrutiny. This add-on implementation model makes the Trustifi system very easy to install and set up. The tool can also be added into Google Workspaces and Microsoft 365. The tool will scan emails for viruses, identify spam and phishing, and even provide a backup system for emails. This system is cutting edge because it uses AI to identify malicious activity.
Access a demo: https://trustifi.com/demo/
Operating system: Cloud-based
The Mail Assure system is a product of N-able and is marketed for purchase by MSPs so that they can offer email protection as an extra service to their clients. However, the system could just as easily be bought and operated by an in-house IT department. It is a standalone product and doesn’t need the N-able software in order to operate.
- Multi-tenant architecture
- Designed for MSPs
- Detects malicious attempts
- Email archiving
Mail Assure offers advanced threat detection for both inbound and outbound email. The inbound email protection includes the services of a threat intelligence database compiled by N-able from the attacks encountered on all of their clients around the world. The email protection system uses a variety of techniques including signature detection and checks against a blacklist.
The inbound email protection detects spam, malware, address spoofing, impersonation, and phishing attempts. Other services included in the package are email archiving on a cloud storage server and a continuity service to provide a stand-in email server should your own go down.
The archiving service stores all emails in an encrypted format and these can be restored on command through the system console.
- Based in the cloud, no surprise infrastructure costs
- Designed for MSPs and multi-tenant use
- If self-learning, and uses data collected internally to improve threat detection
- Supports protection for cloud-hosted email servers
- The platform has many features which will require time to fully explore
The email server protection system is able to guard Office 365 cloud mail servers as well as your on-premises servers. This is a cloud-based service that is charged for by subscription. N-able offers a 30-day free trial of Mail Assure.
Related post: Best Anti-Spam Tools
Avanan offers a series of email protection packages and the Account Takeover Protection system is a module in all of them. The Avanan editions are Advanced Anti-Phishing, Complete Malware, and Enterprise Cloud Security. These three packages are all intended for the protection of cloud-based mail servers, particularly the G-Suite Gmail server and the Office 365 mail server.
- Blocks credentials stealing
- System account cleaning
- Works with cloud platforms
- Include AI processes
Other modules available with Avanan are Anti-Phishing Protection, Malware and Ransomware Protection, and Data Loss Prevention and Compliance.
The Account Takeover Protection module performs an essential email server administration task that is often overlooked. That is, to remove abandoned or compromised accounts. This is the second line of defense if intrusion prevention and phishing protection fail. When an authorized account is compromised it is very difficult to spot malicious activity. Analysis performed by this module identifies typical behavior performed by hackers that manage to hijack a valid email account. It alerts an administrator to the presence of this activity and shuts down the account.
- Simplistic dashboard makes viewing top-level insights easier
- Can automatically deactivate or delete inactive accounts
- Uses behavioral analysis to detect account compromise
- Additional protection such as anti-phishing is a paid add-on module
- Could use a longer trial period
Together with the other modules in Avanan, the Account Takeover Protection system provides a very effective defense against intruders. This is a cloud-based service and each edition is paid for by subscription, priced per user per month. The Advanced anti-Phishing and complete Malware editions are both available on 14-day free trials.
Fortinet is a leading system security provider and FortiMail is its email protection product. FortiMail is a secure email gateway. The system is available as a cloud-based edge service. All of your incoming and outgoing emails get diverted through the Fortinet server. Incoming emails are examined for malware, phishing attempts, impostor emails, and spam, and outbound mail is analyzed for data loss events.
- Range of deployment options
- Part of a SIEM service
- Data privacy standards compliance
The service helps your organization meet the requirements of HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR for data protection. The FortiMail system is part of what Fortinet calls its “security fabric.” This is a ‘security information and event management’ system (SIEM).
As well as the hosted version, Fortinet offers FortiMail in a number of other formats. One option is to take the solution in the form of an appliance that can be plugged into your network. It is also available as a virtual machine to be run on one of your servers. FortiMail can also be installed on a rented virtual server on AWS or Azure.
- Operates as an edge service, protecting your network before messages reach the mail server.
- Blocks malware, phishing attempts, spoofed emails, and general spam
- Can run on a virtual or bare metal environment
- The dashboard feels outdated, nested menus makes it hard to find certain settings
- Whitelisting false positives could be made more user friendly
Symantec is a well-known brand in the business anti-malware sector. Over recent years, the company has transformed its main security system into AI-based endpoint protection systems. The company produces on-premises email protection software, called Symantec Messaging Gateway. However, it is the hosted SaaS version, Email Security.cloud that has grabbed everyone’s attention.
- Spam filter
- Phishing block
Symantec’s move into the cloud with its email protection service is typical of the industry. These “edge services” remove a lot of the load of the client company’s network and servers, freeing up resources for other activities. As one of the tasks of this software is to filter out spam, it greatly reduces the amount of email traffic that arrives on the network.
Other functions performed by this email protection solution are blocks on phishing attempts and the display of web pages led to by links in emails so that they are read-only. That measure prevents employees from being tricked into entering sensitive data or network credentials into fake websites. The tool also blocks malware, spyware, and ransomware contained in emails and their attachments. It investigates the senders of emails to root out impersonators and uses a global threat intelligence database to enforce its fraud prevention.
The Email Security.cloud system will protect on-premises email servers or cloud-based servers. This is a multi-channel email protection solution from a brand that has an excellent reputation.
- Leverages artificial intelligence to provides improved email and endpoint security
- Offers both on-premise and SaaS hosted email security solutions
- Setup is simple, only requiring a change of DNS records
- Shared IP addresses can be blocked by the service, impacting your legitimate mail flow
- User interface could be reworked to be easier to navigate
- Would like to see better protection against whaling and other social engineering attacks
Spam Experts by SolarWinds MSP is of interest to web hosts and internet service providers. The package includes inbound and outbound mail filtering and an archive facility.
- Designed for ISPs
- Scammer address blacklisting
- Email archiving
The protection system deploys a range of tactics. The first of these occurs within the mail filtering environment. It is an AI-based machine learning process that looks for regular traffic patterns and acceptable content. Anomalies get blocked, but the learning process manages to reduce false positives by adapting the baseline of acceptable traffic to the norms encountered during operations.
The second line of defense relies on centralized sources of information. SolarWinds compiles a threat intelligence database from each attack encountered by all of its clients. Thus, a new attack discovered at one site automatically provides warnings to other sites running Spam Experts. This threat intelligence system extends to blacklists of known sources of malicious emails.
Outbound filtering helps provide data loss prevention and information about the usage of email within each client organization.
This is a cloud-based system and is a multi-tenant system. So the service operator can give each of its customers access to a console to see the protection measures that Spam Experts carried out just for the email system of that business.
The deal includes email archiving. Each email store is encrypted for confidentiality. Stored emails can be restored individually or in bulk in case of a disaster on the main email server.
- Designed specifically for MSPs and ISPs
- Cloud-based service makes scaling easy, great for new service providers
- Supports email archival
- Supports many multi-tenant options
- Misconfiguration could lead to large-scale email outages
- Interface could be made easier to navigate
SolarWinds offers a 30-day free trial of Spam Experts.
The Hosted Email security service from Trend Micro is a cloud-based edge service that deploys a range of techniques to protect corporate email systems. Among the many strategies included in this bundle is an AI-based machine learning monitor that establishes a baseline of normal email behavior and then blocks any anomalies. This methodology recognizes that not all businesses are the same. It reduces the inconvenience of an over-active spam filter blocking out genuine customer emails.
- Spam filter
- Data loss prevention
- Phishing detection
As well as spam blocking, this system filters out emails containing malware. It also uses AI methods to identify impersonators and phishing scams. Outbound emails can be scanned as a data loss prevention strategy and mails containing sensitive data can be encrypted by the tool. Suspicious URLs in emails are blocked by the system through reference to a global threat intelligence database.
- Leverages anomaly detection to stop email-based threats
- Removes malware, spam, and phishing attempts automatically
- Taps into a global intelligence network for the latest threat information
- Not available as a self-managed product
- Administrator console could be organized better to find certain settings
There are two versions of this service: Standard and Advanced. The Advanced edition includes a continuity service to cover when your email servers go down. The higher version also includes sender authentication. Trend Micro offers Hosted Email Security on a 30-day free trial.
Sophos Email Security is available as a cloud service, an appliance, or a virtual machine. The service examines both inbound and outbound emails. Inbound traffic monitoring blocks spam emails, phishing attempts, and malware delivery attempts and outbound email checks implement data loss prevention. Optionally, users can have all emails and/or their attachments encrypted by the tool for transmission security.
- Range of deployment options
- Spam filter
- Data loss prevention
The scope of the appliance-based solution is limited to protecting your on-premises email server. The cloud-based service can protect your on-premises email servers and also cloud-based servers, such as Office 365.
- Can install virtually, on-premise, or in the cloud
- Provides protection from inbound and outbound threats
- Can recover lost emails, acting as a DLP tool as well
- Would like to see better Active Directory integrations, supporting the removal of users
- Reporting feels canned, not much customization
- Would like to see more integration options
Sophos Email Security is available on a 30-day free trial.
F-Secure Email and Server Security protects Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, and also physical servers running Windows, Linux, or Citrix virtualizations. This is on-premises software.
- Protects Exchange Server
- Scans inbound email for malware
- Sender blacklists
This software forms a gateway, examining all incoming mail for malware. It uses machine learning to spot anomalous emails rather than simply scanning for patterns. These procedures catch spam, block phishing attempts, and spot impersonator attempts.
Another thread of the protection system reaches out to the cloud, where F-Secure threat intelligence provides sender and content blacklists.
A related module in the Email and Server Security package analyzes all websites that users try to access in order to weed out infected and fake sites. As there is already a system-wide web guard, there is no need for additional URL examination within emails.
- Easy to navigate interface
- Can be deployed on Windows, Linux, or Citrix virtual machines or bare metal hosts
- Leverages domain blacklists and machine learning to automatically assess the domain of inbound messages
- Can scan outbound emails for insider threats and rouge mail servers
- Only available for on-premise protection
- Would like to see more protection around phishing attacks
The tool also examines internal and outgoing emails for suspicious activity. F-Secure also produces additional network-wider and endpoint protection systems that can all be managed from a single console. However, it is also possible to run the Email and Server Security package as a standalone system. F-Secure offers email and Server Security on a free trial.
Kaspersky Security for Mail Server is another on-premises solution. However, the software can also be installed on Microsoft Azure servers. Nonetheless, this is not a cloud-based service. The software acts as a gateway, standing in front of the mail server, receiving all mail first, filtering out the bad mails, and passing on the rest to the email server for regular processing.
- Install on-premises or on Azure
- Spam filter
The Kaspersky Labs threat intelligence database is an input to the on-site processes. The gateway specifically searches for spam emails and emails containing malware either in the body or in attachments.
- Available on-premise as well as in Microsoft Azure
- Provides edge access control without giving up access to a third party
- Can scan the body and attachments for malware and suspicious keywords
- The interface feels dated when compared to newer products
- Requires quite a bit of configuration to get running correctly
This software will cover Microsoft Exchange and Linux-based mail server systems. Kaspersky offers Security for Mail Server on a 30-day free trial.
Choosing an email protection solution
Reading through the descriptions of each of these options you will very quickly narrow down your choice to just two or three of the systems that we recommend here. For example, if you prefer on-premises software, or if you want a solution that is delivered as an appliance, your options will rapidly diminish. Many of the systems in this list offer free trials, so once you have narrowed down your candidates to just a couple of solutions, you can put each through its paces.
Whichever system you choose, it is important to recognize the weakness that email systems represent. They are a fast-track into the heart of your organizations, allowing hackers to ride in, corrupt your software, hijack your resources, and steal your data. Email security is an essential part of your system defenses.
Do you already use an email protection solution? Do you use any of the systems in our list of recommendations? Leave a message in the Comments section below and share your experiences with the community.