Top 8 Features of an Effective Email Security Solution
What is at stake if the employees’ emails are compromised? The leaks can cause you both economic and well as reputation loss. Think of it this way: When you make a significant strategic decision, you express it primarily through an email to an individual or a team. However, if your next big move gets out of the bag, the competition will have the edge over you. For Hilary Clinton, leaked emails cost her the presidential elections, leading to a chain of events that cost much more to the USA. The root cause of such mishaps is that emails keep lying on unprotected servers. Unprotected emails are like bullets; you cannot take them back once you fire them.
There are three ways of protecting an email:
- Stopping the emails at the origin by deploying Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions and Secure Email Gateways (SEGs)
- Encrypting the emails in transit to avoid eavesdropping
- Securing the emails even after being delivered to the recipient, that is, while data is in use.
An email security solution protects the emails in at least one of the ways mentioned above. However, with the increasing demand for a higher level of security, the list of desired features for an effective security solution keeps growing.
The following is a list of features expected in an efficient email security solution. The list is exhaustive, but there can be more to it:
- Password policies
- Content filtering
- Reporting and log search
- Administrator management
- User management
- Data classification
- Data-centric security
- Unauthorized recipient check
Let’s dig deeper into these aspects and learn the most wanted features for effective email security solutions.
The password is of paramount importance for email security. Weaker passwords can cause loss of both data and reputation for the organizations. Additionally, password policies are a complex web of rules and regulations. Enterprises must maintain a balance while selecting and enforcing the policy surrounding passwords.
An ideal password policy should balance safety, convenience, and memorization. According to experts, the high frequency of password changes can increase the chances of password compromise. If you keep the password policy too stringent, employees will have difficulty remembering the passwords and either writing them down or using tools to remember them. Enterprises can choose alternatives to passwords like RSA tokens or two-factor tor authentication.
Here are a few trends in password security:
We suggest the following tips while setting password policies:
- Use strong passwords: Passwords consisting of complex combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, special characters, and numerals tend to work as solid passwords
- Never reuse passwords
- Mandate two-factor authentication for employees
- Block access on multiple unauthorized attempts
One of the vital aspects of content filtering is identifying the classified information shared over emails within or outside organizations. If we go by reports and analysis, emails were the second most common medium of data leak in 2016. Fraudulent emails, as part of a phishing strategy, are still a hacker’s favorite tool to obtain credentials.
Content filtering deals with government compliance and protection against the misuse of corporate emails. Many Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions provide data-centric security around emails. But standalone systems cannot offer wholly secure and usable systems to protect outbound information.
Content filtering requires a complex rule engine with multiple parameters and conditions to analyze. It’s a challenge to provide this in a simple format. Make sure the system you are evaluating has the following:
- Mechanism to define custom filters based on organizations and geolocation
- Predefined filters for standard data types
- Filter both inbound and outbound emails
- Filter based on DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) signature
Reporting and Log Search
While email security is one big area, it becomes the elephant in the room without efficient incident reporting. So, while having a robust email security system is good, it is even more essential for the solution to support incident management and efficient log searching.
Make sure the system you are evaluating has the following:
- Separate reports for admins and users.
- Configurable frequency of reports.
- Allow flexibility to generate reports as and when users request manually.
- Detailed log search, i.e., based on IP, countries, senders, recipients, and many more.
- Search based on attachment content of standard file formats
- Ability to move logs to SIEM systems.
The administrator management console of the solution should be simple and provide as much flexibility to end-users.
It should allow administrators to do the following tasks:
- Create global and domain-level policies
- Allow searching end user’s quarantine or global quarantine.
- Granular usage control
- Activity audit of administrators
- Multiple domains
- Integration with the identity management system of the enterprise
- Multilingual support
Security is not an IT admin’s only job anymore. We need to involve users where they can actively participate. When it comes to email, it directly impacts end users with efficiency.
An efficient email security solution should have the following features:
- User and admin console
- Ability to set up spam, quarantine, block listing rules
- Generation of reports to end-users and insight into their email activities
The email security system should provide email classification based on the content of the mail. Alternatively, the solutions should have ways to integrate with existing data classification solutions and have a mechanism to write rules based on data classification. Most of the email classification systems use classification for emails as x-headers and attachments as custom properties. While classifying the data might not be provided by email security systems, identifying the already classified content is a must-have feature.
For example, the system should understand that an email has classified content that needs to be blocked while sharing with external domains. Classification-specific solutions can classify emails and documents.
Make sure the system you are evaluating has the following properties:
- Capability to write rules based on x-headers
- Capacity to write rules based on custom properties of attachments
- Ability to route emails via classification systems
Though most of the above reasons help your post-facto analysis of the emails, the proper security of the email can come only when the emails remain always protected during the transmission and the usage of the data.
Data Rights Management (DRM) solutions provide data-centric security for emails. But most of them don’t have the remaining email security features. Because these solutions are designed for data-centric security, their functionality revolves around the data. The best possible email security solutions allow organizations to plug their DRM solutions into email security solutions.
Unauthorized Recipient Check
Wrong recipients are one of the reasons for data leakage because users make mistakes while marking emails. Modern email security systems are working hard to prevent emails from being automatically sent to unauthorized users. With machine learning & AI, it’s possible to identify whether an email has reached an unintentional user.
Content filtering, reporting, and data classification are mandatory for any email security solution. However, the following features improve the functioning of an email security solution and add to its value on an enterprise level:
- Anti-virus and anti-malware
- Outbound filtering
- Email spooling and continuity
- Email archiving
Seclore’s Email Encryption Plus is an enterprise email encryption software for advanced email security. It integrates with the existing Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions and Classification to automatically apply granular usage controls to protect emails and attachments in transit, rest, and even while in use.