What is mail protection service?

Mail protection service refers to solutions and technologies that help protect organizations and individuals from malware, spam, and other threats delivered via email. As email remains one of the top vectors for cyber attacks, having robust email security measures in place is critical for any business or user.

Why is email protection important?

There are several key reasons why dedicated mail protection services are crucial:

  • Email is a prime target for cybercriminals – Over 90% of cyber attacks start with a phishing email or other malicious email delivery. Focusing security on the email vector can help stop attacks before they spread.
  • Email malware and spam are constant threats – Billions of spam messages and advanced malware attachments are sent via email daily. Mail protection helps filter out these dangerous messages.
  • Email scams target users – Socially engineered email scams attempt to fool users into clicking links, opening attachments, or sharing sensitive data. Mail protection provides malware scanning and policy control to prevent infections and data loss.
  • Regulatory and compliance mandates – Industries like finance and healthcare have stringent data protection and email security regulations. Mail protection helps enforce compliance and avoid steep fines for non-compliance.

In summary, dedicated mail protection platforms provide advanced threat protection across three key areas:

  • Stopping malware – Using sandboxing, machine learning, heuristics, and signatures to detect malware attachments and malicious links.
  • Filtering spam – Analyzing bulk messaging patterns, content, intent, and origins to uncover and block unwanted spam.
  • Threat emulation – Emulating user behavior to interact with threats and understand evolving tactics used in socially engineered email attacks.

Without specialized mail protection, organizations leave themselves vulnerable to potential devastating security incidents emerging from the email channel.

What are the key elements of mail protection services?

Robust enterprise and consumer-grade mail protection solutions typically include some combination of these critical elements:

  • Email scanning and analysis – Scanning email content, attachments, URLs, and attributes for indicators of compromise using signatures, static and behavioral analysis, and machine learning.
  • Sandboxing – Safely detonating and analyzing attachments in isolated virtual environments to uncover malicious actions.
  • Spam filtering – Blocking unwanted spam and phishing emails using allow/block lists, Bayesian analysis, machine learning, and other techniques.
  • Email encryption – Encrypting emails in transit and at rest to prevent snooping or data leaks.
  • Data loss prevention – Detecting and controlling sensitive data transmission over email using DLP policies.
  • Reporting and analytics – Monitoring email security events and generating reports to understand the email threat landscape.
  • Compliance archiving – Archiving email data to meet regulatory compliance needs.
  • Incident response – Providing capabilities like email trace and threat hunting to investigate and respond to email-borne attacks.

Additionally, AI and automation are being utilized across mail protection platforms for tasks like identifying new attack patterns, adapting policies to stop emerging threats, streamlining incident response, and powering predictive analytics.

What are the different types of email threats?

Mail protection services and secure email gateways are designed to stop the wide range of constantly evolving email-borne threats, including:

  • Malware – Malicious software delivered in attachments or links that infect endpoints and compromise networks. Examples: viruses, trojans, spyware.
  • Phishing/spear-phishing – Fraudulent emails attempting to steal credentials and data by impersonating trusted sources. Spear-phishing targets specific individuals.
  • Business email compromise (BEC) – Sophisticated socially engineered attacks on employees to initiate unauthorized payments.
  • Spam – Unwanted junk mail sent in bulk for advertising, phishing, or malware distribution.
  • Ransomware – Malware that encrypts organizational data until ransom is paid.
  • Information/data leakage – Sensitive data being shared without proper security controls and DLP policies.
  • Email scams – Various tactics to manipulate users via deceptive emails, such as fake invoices or threats.

Dedicated mail protection leverages a deep stack of threat intelligence, security analytics, and machine learning to identify these attacks delivered through corporate and personal email accounts.

What are the benefits of mail protection services for businesses?

Implementing enterprise-grade mail protection offers organizations several important security, compliance, and productivity benefits:

  • Advanced threat protection – Thwarts sophisticated phishing, malware, BEC, and ransomware campaigns targeting employees.
  • Policy enforcement – Ensures DLP, encryption, archiving policies are applied to secure email.
  • Attack intelligence – Provides real-time visibility into email attacks targeting the organization.
  • Spam reduction – Cuts time wasted dealing with spam and improves productivity.
  • Email continuity – Maintains email flow even during outages with spooling and queue management.
  • Regulatory compliance – Helps meet compliance mandates for industries like finance, government, and healthcare.
  • Centralized control – Consistent mail security policies enforced for on-premises and cloud email.

For security teams, mail protection also aids response and forensic efforts in the event of an incident or data breach. Overall, businesses can leverage mail protection to reduce risk, limit potential large-scale security incidents emerging from email, and gain valuable visibility into cyber threats targeting the organization.

What features do the top mail protection platforms provide?

Leading enterprise mail security platforms from vendors like Mimecast, Barracuda, and Proofpoint incorporate advanced features designed to stop sophisticated modern email threats. Here are some of the top capabilities leading solutions can provide:

  • Link and URL protection – Sandboxing and rewriting links in emails to protect against malicious websites.
  • Impersonation protection – Blocking fraudulent use of internal email addresses and domains.
  • Security training – Educating employees on how to identify and avoid email threats with modules and simulations.
  • Auto-remediation – Automatically quarantining or deleting dangerous emails post-delivery.
  • Threat intelligence feeds – Leveraging real-time intel on known and emerging email threats.
  • Incident response tools – Capabilities like trace and search to investigate incidents.
  • Analytics and dashboards – Graphical reporting on email security trends and events.
  • Data archiving and retention – Long-term archival capabilities for compliance needs.
  • Encrypted email – Built-in end-to-end encrypted email options.
  • Cloud integration – API integrations with cloud email like Office 365.

By leveraging a mix of these features, organizations can achieve comprehensive protection across the email threat landscape while also gaining enhanced compliance and control.

What are the limitations of basic email security?

Relying solely on the basic email security tools – like those built into email platforms or DNS blacklists – provides only limited protection against today’s attacks. There are several gaps with basic email security:

  • Easy to bypass spam filters – Attackers regularly switch up domains and keywords to bypass standard spam filters.
  • No sandboxing capabilities – Built-in email security lacks dynamic detection of new malware variants.
  • Limited threat intelligence – Basic tools have minimal visibility into emerging email attack trends seen across networks.
  • Spam and phishing still enter inbox – Sophisticated social engineering tactics allow malicious emails to reach end users.
  • Gaps in continuity controls – Native tools lack critical failover and queueing capabilities when email goes down.
  • Minimal policy control – Basic controls for encryption, DLP, and archiving are lacking.
  • Fixed analytics – Reporting is often limited and static, reducing visibility into anomalies.

While native email security is better than nothing, dedicated mail protection closes these critical security gaps that attackers actively exploit in their campaigns.

What market trends are shaping the mail protection space?

Several key trends are evolving around enterprise and consumer mail protection capabilities:

  • Consolidation – Large security vendors are acquiring leading email security vendors, such as Broadcom acquiring Symantec Enterprise.
  • Migration to cloud – Adoption of cloud-based mail protection is growing due to easy deployment and scalability. Gartner predicts 50% of midsize enterprises will use cloud email security by 2023.
  • Machine learning advancement – ML and AI enable more effective and autonomous threat detection and response across email systems.
  • API expansions – Integration with cloud email, productivity suites, and incident response tools via APIs enhances data sharing and automation.
  • Compliance mandates expanding – Regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS are broadening to cover more cybersecurity protections, including for email.
  • Vendor consolidation – Crowded email security market is entering a consolidation phase with mergers like Proofpoint and ObserveIT.

Overall, the mail protection landscape is maturing with advanced AI-driven threat detection, tighter platform integrations, and delivery shifting to the cloud. At the same time, email threats continue to grow in sophistication, underscoring the need for robust email security for firms of all sizes.

What are some alternatives to traditional mail protection?

In addition to conventional on-premise and cloud-based mail protection platforms from major vendors, organizations have a few emerging alternatives, including:

  • Secure Email Gateways (SEG) – Appliance-based solutions focused exclusively on email security, like Barracuda’s offerings.
  • Unified Threat Management (UTM) – Integrated network security appliances that include mail protection, like SonicWall and WatchGuard solutions.
  • Microsoft Exchange Online Protection – Native email security for Office 365 hosted Exchange environments.
  • Gmail Advanced Protection – Enhanced phishing and malware protection for Google Workspace users from Google.
  • DNS Filtering – DNS and IP blacklisting services like Cisco Umbrella that block malicious domains.
  • AI-Augmented Mail Security – Emerging machine learning solutions like Abnormal Security designed to stop socially engineered attacks.

Organizations should carefully evaluate their specific email risk profile, infrastructure, and staff training maturity to determine which mail protection approach provides optimal security and usability.

How can individuals protect their personal email accounts?

For personal email protection, individuals have a few solid options to improve security beyond the baseline protections in consumer email services:

  • Use unique complex passwords for each email account
  • Enable two-factor authentication
  • Be wary of links and attachments from unknown senders
  • Use secure encrypted email options like Gmail confidential mode
  • Never send sensitive data like credit cards or SSNs unencrypted in emails
  • Screen unknown contacts requesting financial transactions via email
  • Consider a premium consumer cybersecurity suite with enhanced email protections

Additionally, Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo Mail all offer “enhanced protection” options users can enable for stronger spam and phishing filtering. Overall though, consumer-grade protections do not match enterprise mail security capabilities.


Robust mail protection has become an absolute necessity for organizations of any size or industry to defend against modern advanced threats. The proliferation of sophisticated email-borne attacks like credential phishing and ransomware underscores why security teams need to make mail protection a top priority.

By implementing a dedicated third-party mail protection platform – ideally with capabilities like sandboxing, DLP, encryption, and ML-enhanced threat detection – organizations can effectively close common email security gaps. Mail protection not only reduces business risk, but provides compliance benefits and improves IT efficiency through features like spam blocking. For individuals, consumer cybersecurity services, unique passwords, and multi-factor authentication also offer enhanced protection.

As threats delivered through corporate and personal email continue to rise, specialized mail protection technologies will remain crucial for end user organizations to cost-effectively mitigate these risks and minimize potential damage from email-based attacks.