The proliferation of Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace use for business has highlighted the inadequacies in the built-in email security defenses provided in these platforms, which often leave users and critical data vulnerable to attack by providing a false sense of security. These primitive, single-layered defenses are unable to anticipate and block sophisticated emerging attacks, and there are no preventative measures in place to combat zero-day exploits. Despite existing protection, 40% of users have experienced credential theft in Office 365. 

Fortifying Office 365 and Workspace email requires a layered supplementary email security solution designed to close the dangerous gaps in default cloud email protection. To help you select the best cloud email security solution for your business, we’ve outlined our top characteristics and capabilities to prioritize, along with questions you should ask before making a decision.

Must-Have Characteristics & Capabilities of an Effective Modern Cloud Email Security Solution 

Powerful Anti-Phishing Capabilities

Phishing is one of the most prevalent, sophisticated and versatile threats businesses face. Over 90% of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing email, and despite existing protection in Office 365 and Workspace, 30% of phishing attempts are opened by target users in these platforms.

Real-time supplementary phishing protection is critical in safeguarding Office 365 and Workplace against today’s increasingly stealthy and highly targeted phishing attacks. We strongly recommend selecting an AI-based solution that proactively identifies modern attacks and quarantines then before they reach the inbox. Phishing attacks often leverage spoofing and malicious links to deceive users and steal credentials. To protect against these malicious tactics, an effective solution uses multiple email authentication standards and protocols including SPF, DMARC and DKIM to validate sender identity and prevent sender fraud, and implements malicious URL protection to validate the safety and legitimacy of all links and attachments. Ensure that the supplementary protection you select thoroughly analyzes all email attributes including sender and domain reputation and message content, as well as the email header, signature and envelope.

Predictive Spam & Virus Protection

Spam email and viruses are not only extremely aggravating, they can also be highly dangerous for businesses. Spam often contains malicious links and attachments which are used to steal sensitive data or infect systems with malware, and an email virus can result in inconvenient, costly downtime for any organization. The traditional spam filters and signature-based antivirus software provided as default protection to cloud email users is insufficient in safeguarding against today’s spam and viruses, as spammers are now using advanced, stealthy techniques like social engineering to evade spam filters and deceive users, and complex polymorphic viruses are capable of modifying themselves to avoid the detection of signature-based antivirus software.

Fortifying Office 365 and Workspace email against spam and viruses requires proactive, real-time supplementary defenses that include multiple layers of detection engines capable of performing predictive spam and virus detection through heuristics analysis, an advanced technique that scans messages for characteristics and behaviors that are unique to spam email. We recommend that you choose a solution that also implements an innovative spam filtration framework like Spamassassin as another valuable layer of spam protection.

Fully-Managed Email Security Services 

Ongoing expert system monitoring, maintenance and support can simplify administration, improve security and reduce costs - delivering a rapid return on investment (ROI). Thus, we urge you to select a supplementary email security solution accompanied by fully-managed services, where experts work with your team to understand your business’s security needs, identify individuals within your organization who are most likely to be targeted in an attack and closely monitor them to watch for targeted threats. Office 365 and Workspace must be properly set up and configured to prevent dangerous misconfiguration vulnerabilities, and these experts should be able to assist in this process as well.

Complete Visibility into Your Email Security

We recommend selecting an open-source email security solution to bolster Office 365 and Workspace security defenses. Software and technology with transparent open-source code has the potential to achieve higher levels of security than proprietary products because of the thorough scrutiny it undergoes by a worldwide community of user-developers. Due to this constant review, vulnerabilities are found and fixed rapidly in open-source email security solutions. Open-source solutions are also highly effective in preventing phishing and zero-day attacks. In an open-source model applied to the development of email security software, emails gathered from millions of systems worldwide are used to identify patterns and perform large-scale tests on filters and frameworks that have been developed to block malicious email. Results are then distributed back to the community, where the insight gathered is rapidly incorporated into open-source solutions through real-time updates, ensuring that new phishing campaigns and zero-day vulnerabilities discovered in one part of the world are quickly addressed and contained before they have a chance to spread. 

We also strongly urge you to choose a solution that provides complete visibility into your email security data and the threats targeting your organization via an accessible, user-friendly Dashboard administrative portal. This visibility will increase the level of security, effectiveness and cost-efficiency a solution is able to provide your company, enabling better cybersecurity planning, allocation of resources and enforcement of company security policies, reducing your exposure to risk and providing granular control over your email systems.

Questions to Ask When Weighing Your Options:

  • Does the solution provide multi-layered real-time phishing protection?
  • Does it seamlessly integrate with and effectively complement existing protection in O365 and Workspace?
  • Does it provide malicious URL protection, sender authentication, and complete analysis of every aspect of email communications?
  • Does it include predictive spam and virus detection using heuristics analysis?
  • Is it accompanied by expert managed services and accessible support?
  • Does it have a secure open-source foundation and ongoing community support?
  • Does it offer complete visibility into your email security via an accessible real-time Dashboard?

In Summary

Office 365 and Workspace users are highly susceptible to attack without effective supplementary email security defenses in place. Built-in protection is insufficient in securing cloud email, and the majority of traditional email security solutions are unable to detect and block sophisticated modern attacks like fileless malware, spear phishing and zero-day exploits. Businesses should select a solution that provides layered real-time protection, designed to fill the gaps in default cloud email security defenses with characteristics including powerful anti-phishing capabilities, predictive spam and virus protection, fully-managed email security services and complete visibility into your email security. The costs of email-borne cyberattacks and breaches are exponentially growing, and the danger they pose to your business is too great to take lightly. 

Ready to reap the benefits of Office 365 without the risk? Learn about a threat-ready, fully-supported solution designed to make Office 365 email safe for business. Get a Demo>

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