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Advancing Beyond Hygiene to Next-Gen Email Protection Services

Co-Author: SonicWall’s Scott McCrady

Co-Author: SonicWall’s Ganesh Umapathy

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 vs. 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-dollar 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 who 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.

Next-Gen Email Security: Defining the Solution

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-gen 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: The 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% 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 O365 wave

The transition to 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% 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 to 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

Our 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

Erich Berger

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.”


Guest blog from Ganesh Umapathy, product management senior advisor, and Scott McCrady, executive sales director, SonicWall. Read more SonicWall blogs here.

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