Advancing Beyond Hygiene to Next-Gen Email Protection Services

This story originally appeared on MSSP Alert and was republished with permission.


Most of us have a love-hate relationship with email. It’s been around for what seems like forever and while new channels of communication like Slack are making inroads, email is still the primary means of communicating in most organizations.

Since it is so ubiquitous, we know it will be a primary target of malicious attackers. Because of the attack surface area, attackers have been targeting email as a point of entry into organizations for over a decade. Most companies have responded with some form of email security solution. However, there seems to be a disconnect in outcomes versus goals in the industry.

For instance, 90 percent of current attacks against organizations use spear phishing as the primary means of breaching those organizations, yet most people would say they have email security in place.

Preventing Spam is Only the First Step

The major problem we are having as a security industry is that most people believe they have “security” for their email systems, but what they really have is hygiene. Email hygiene can be defined as “the process of keeping the inbox clean by keeping spam and unwanted advertisements away.”

It’s easy to think that hygiene is security because when email was new, spam was the major source of annoyance and security breaches — we’ve all dealt with Nigerian prince scams.

According to a recent FBI Public Service Announcement, business email compromise is a $12 billion problem today. Anti-malware and anti-spam are hygiene tools provided for free by cloud service providers, such as O365 and G Suite, as part of their mailbox functionality, but these tools do not stop evolving, sophisticated attacks.

Unfortunately, security industry nomenclature to customers hasn’t changed. The consequence has been continual breaches in organizations that believe they have security in place, but the reality is the hygiene solutions they have in place aren’t up to the task of stopping advanced email penetration techniques.

We need to move our language more toward discussing hygiene solutions and advanced email security solutions. What customers need isn’t email security (aka hygiene) but next-generation email security focused on identifying advanced threats. A next-gen email security solution should include:

  • Targeted phishing and email fraud protection
  • Unknown threat detection capabilities beyond just a “sandbox”
  • Compatibility beyond on-premises email server to O365, Gmail, etc.
  • Outbound protection to minimize potential data leakage
  • Hygiene capabilities as needed

Next-Gen Email Security Opportunity

While education is required, customers are starting to realize the need to supplement the native security functionalities with dedicated advanced threat protection (ATP) capabilities.

Gartner says over 50 percent of customers will look for dedicated security tools. MSSPs should look to provide a next-gen email security solution to their customers. This not only solves a real customer problem, but can also:

  • Increase your monthly recurring revenue with a next-gen email security solution as an additional value-added service for your customer
  • Lower analyst workload by blocking threats proactively
  • Enable better translation to real business impact – email addresses are associated with real people in the business rather than just an IP address
  • Reduce risk of liability – if customers are better protected, the chance of a significant breach is lower
  • Ride on the Microsoft Office 365 wave

The transition to Microsoft Office 365 (O365) is interesting as it both presents an opportunity and creates additional fear, uncertainty and doubt in the market. Businesses realize the benefits of moving their IT to the cloud (lower total cost of ownership, easier management, etc.) and email Exchange server was one of the first to move to the cloud.

However, O365 customers are often unsure of the level of security they get. An SMB customer typically evaluates the two Exchange Online Protect plans (EOP 1 and EOP 2). Let’s see what the customer is paying for:

  • In EOP 1, for $4/user/month, customers get the mailbox functionality and known malware protection included with anti-spam and anti-virus. Customer must upgrade to EOP 2 plan at $8/user/month for the addition of DLP functionality.
  • What’s not included is the ATP sandbox. If a customer wants that protection against today’s advanced threats, he needs to pay an additional $2/user/month for the add-on service.

Powering Your Advanced Email Protection Service with SonicWall

This opportunity is ripe, so it’s important that you not only find an effective technology, but a partner that will help you enable your service quickly. To protect against today’s advanced threats, SonicWall’s award-winning solution provides a multi-layered defense mechanism:

  • A multi-engine sandbox to catch the most evasive of malware. Our sandbox supports and scans extensive file attachment types and can scan over 70 percent of the files in under five seconds.
  • To stop spoofing attacks, business email compromise and email fraud, powerful email authentication, including SPF, DKIM and DMARC, is automatically included.
  • In-house anti-phishing, anti-spam and multiple anti-virus technologies protect against known threats.
  • Real-time threat intelligence feeds powered by Capture Labs that include signatures of newly found threats and IP based reputation for URL filtering.

Purpose-Built for MSSPs

The SonicWall secure email platform is built with MSSPs in mind to not only reduce the cost of management, but to ensure your brand is at the forefront:

  • Multi-tenant platform with flexible deployment options – hardware, software, virtual and cloud
  • Customizable branded experience
  • Integration with restful APIs and syslog alerting
  • Built-in O365 integration

The SonicWall SecureFirst MSSP program will help you implement the email security solution quickly, reduce time to market and take advantage of this great market opportunity. Some of what the MSSP program includes:

  • Service description templates
  • MSS pricing option
  • MSS specific setup and operation guides

MSSPs have a major opportunity here to educate their market on the differences between hygiene and security. And SonicWall’s MSSPs are doing exactly that.

A case in point: According to Erich Berger of Secure Designs Inc., a SonicWall SecureFirst MSSP Partner: “Within an hour of being installed it saved one particular customer from an Emotet infostealer malware variant.”

Scott McCrady
Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan | SonicWall
With 22 years experience working in the networking, telecommunications, and information security space, Scott currently serves as the Vice President for Asia, Pacific and Japan as well as for Sonicwall’s global strategic partners. In this role he and his team are responsible for the overall business in APJ as well as driving forward global growth in strategic and complex partnerships across the world.
Ganesh Umapathy on Twitter
Ganesh Umapathy
Product Marketing Manager, Cloud, Email & Mobility | SonicWall
Ganesh is SonicWall’s product marketing manager for email, mobility and BYOD, and cloud security solutions. He is responsible for go-to-market strategy, product launches, content creation and sales enablement. Ganesh has over 10 years of experience working in the technology industry in varying capacities across engineering, product management and product marketing roles. Ganesh holds an MBA from University of Washington, Seattle, and a bachelor’s degree in Electronics & Instrumentation Engineering from India.
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