What is a Secure Email Gateway?

What is a Secure Email Gateway?

For corporations, companies, and other large organizations, cybersecurity is a constant concern and a constant threat. The law requires them to take certain cautions to protect customer data, and the reputation of their organization will depend on their ability to follow those rules. That all sounds great on paper, but the people who make those laws don’t seem to realize how easily a person can get hacked. In many cases, it takes only a single malicious email that is allowed to get through. Let’s talk about secure email gateways and how they can be used to protect individuals and organizations from cyber-attack.

The Problem:

It is no secret that email phishing is the most common path by which organizations are attacked and hacked. This is probably due to the fact that large organizations exchange huge numbers of emails on a daily basis. It isn’t practical to check every one of these closely and bad actors use that to their advantage. Malicious emails will usually have boobytrapped links that grab your IP and/or trick you into entering sensitive information on a page the hacker controls.

Another problem lies in the fact that this is a social engineering hack. That means it targets people rather than systems, and those are harder to protect. As you might imagine, guarding a computer network against intrusion is a little easier than preventing a person from doing something foolish. Because this is a human problem, it would seem that technological solutions are never going to be completely effective.

How A Secure Email Gateway Could Be The Answer

For a long time, the only way to mitigate the risk of social engineering hacks was to exercise caution. However, secure email gateways may provide the solution for which the cybersecurity world has been waiting. These software programs act as filters that check emails before they are delivered. They compare headers and other metadata to look for inconsistencies, as these dummy emails are usually imperfect copies of legitimate ones.

These programs also examine any links or attachments in the emails, rejecting them if they are found to contain suspicious content. In cases where the program isn’t sure, it will normally quarantine the suspect message until an admin can take a closer look. One good thing about an email gateway is the fact that it will filter both incoming and outgoing emails. That is necessary because cyber-criminals are often trying to steal data. They have to find some way of sending that data to an external location and emails are one of the ways in which that can be done. However, a good email gateway program can probably catch that intruder before they abscond with that important data.

Essential Features Of A Secure Email Gateway

One important thing is to make sure that your gateway uses strong network encryption to separate itself from your normal traffic. Otherwise, a hacker could just take over and compromise the gateway itself. You also need to make sure it has a built-in malware/virus scanner with updated definitions. Out-of-date antivirus scans are all but useless because the threat landscape changes so often.

You also want to make sure that your gateway has good spam filtering measures. Spam is usually not malicious, but it sure is annoying! Also, an inbox full of spam messages can make it easier for a malicious one to go unnoticed. And, of course, there are cases in which spam advertising emails are actually phishing emails in disguise.

When it comes to outbound traffic, you definitely want a gateway with content filtering. This will allow you to create a list of files that cannot be sent to anyone. This type of content filtering functions much like a firewall although its purpose is slightly different. Just imagine how silly a cyber-attacker would feel when encountering this sort of block! Unless they are good enough to circumvent the filter (highly unlikely), they will have wasted their time.

Finally, it’s not a bad idea to get a gateway service that includes email archiving. Many organizations need to retain certain emails for purposes of regulatory compliance or tax compliance, so you can find yourself in a major bind if those things go missing. A searchable archive allows you to find any old email with ease.

Should I Use A Cloud-Based Gateway?

You have several options when choosing software of this kind, and the cloud is often involved. People choose cloud-based email gateway options because it reduces the amount of maintenance and setup that is needed. If you want to have an on-premises gateway, that will require a dedicated server and all the hardware with which it’s associated. Maintenance costs can also add up over time, but a cloud-based solution takes care of all that for the user. That being said, an on-premises server can be controlled more directly by your organization, allowing you more options and greater flexibility.

Should I Use A Free Email Gateway?

When it comes to secure email gateways, there are a few free options. However, the effectiveness of these programs is highly dubious. Free gateways are not updated or maintained as vigorously as proprietary ones (mostly because no one is getting paid to do the work). For that reason, we would advise you to avoid the free options.

Conclusion

Email gateways are very simple solutions that have the potential to reduce or eliminate the phishing problem. As email compromise is one of the biggest and oldest cyber-threats, that is a very exciting prospect. It truly would be nice if this old devil could finally be put down for good!

Of course, you will probably have to do some hunting in order to find the best email gateway for you. We have had good luck with email endpoint security 30, but there are many other good options as well. If you are interested in learning more about these services, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.