Managed Spam Filtering

A fully managed spam filtering solution is the logical choice for most healthcare organizations. Healthcare IT staff are likely to already be overstretched without having to have the extra burden of committing a lot of time to managing and maintaining anti-spam and anti-phishing protections.

A hosted-spam filter is the easiest and often most cost-effective spam filtering choice. This managed spam filtering service is by far the easiest to spam filtering solution to implement and maintain.

As with other SaaS offerings, all aspects of the solution are looked after by the service provider. The service provider is responsible for ensuring you have 99.99% up time and will perform all hardware upgrades. Since the software is located in the cloud, there is no need for any software downloads and no hardware purchases are required. The service provider looks after all software upgrades, so it will not add to the IT department’s patching burden.

These hosted managed spam filtering services do not require your own CPU resources, since the filtering takes place on the service providers servers. This also allows much more CPU intensive controls to be applied without affecting performance. With no hardware on site, the maintenance costs are minimal.

With these managed spam filtering offerings, everything is looked after for you, but you retain full control over your spam filtering policies. To get started all you need to do is make a change to your MX record.

When considering a spam filtering service, decision makers will usually assess the range of features, the level of protection provided against malware, ransomware, and phishing, and the cost of the solution. When assessing suitable managed spam filtering services, it is important to also consider the time that the IT department will need to invest in management. These SaaS services have been developed to be as easy as possible, but there will still be a management overhead.

If the solution is overly complex and difficult to use, IT staff will have to commit a great deal of their time to management. That time naturally comes at a cost. Worse, IT staff may avoid using the solution as far as possible, which does not bode well for email security.

One of the easiest ways to check usability and the management overhead is to visit business review websites such as G2 Crowd. These websites contain reviews from real users who provide honest feedback on how easy the solutions are to implement, use, and maintain. Use these reviews to help you avoid making a costly mistake. Also take advantage of free trials. They allow you to find out firsthand about the management overhead and usability of the solution.

The admin burden associated with some solutions is considerable. For example, Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and Advanced Threat Protection (APT) have a high management overhead, even after the initial setup. Office 365 is intended to help improve productivity, but for Office 365 admins that is often not the case.

One of the main problems with EOP for Office 365 is the catch rate. The solution will block around 99% of spam email, but there are many third-party solutions that block in excess of 99.9% of spam email. Phishing emails are often delivered to inboxes protected by EOP. One study conducted by Avanan revealed 25% of phishing emails bypass EOP defenses and are delivered to inboxes.

Identifying and removing threats from the email system can be a major undertaking, adding further to the time the IT department must spend on email security rather than other important tasks.

The management headaches and the time commitment tweaking EOP to improve catch rates and dealing with the phishing emails and malware drives many companies to third-party managed spam filtering solutions. Not only are these solutions easier to implement and use, they often have far higher spam, phishing, and malware catch rates so provide greater protection.

Around 35% of Office 365 users are now using a third-party solution for spam and anti-phishing protection for their Office 365 accounts and that figure is growing. The increased protection and low management overhead make them a far better choice, and many are far more cost effective than an upgrade to Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection.


What is sandboxing?

Some email security solutions use sandboxing to better protect against malware. Antivirus engines are signature-based, so will only detect known malware. Sandboxing provides protection against previously unseen malware variants. Suspicious attachments that pass antivirus checks are sent to the sandbox where they are analyzed for malicious actions in a safe environment.

Why is outbound email scanning necessary?

All spam filters will block inbound email threats, but outbound scanning is also important. Outbound scanning can detect and block attempts by malicious insiders to email sensitive data to personal email accounts and can also identify compromised mailboxes that are being used to send phishing emails to other employees and address book contacts.

How do spam filters block email impersonation attacks?

Phishers often spoof email addresses and impersonate trusted companies. Spam filters use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to block these attacks by verifying the identity of a sender and ensuring an IP address is authorized to send emails from a particular domain.

Is it possible to set spam filtering controls for different departments?

If you choose a spam filter that integrates with directory services such as AD and LDAP you can easily implement spam filtering policies for all users, different departments, user groups, and individuals.

How much does managed spam filtering cost?

The cost of managed spam filtering will depend on the service provider, number of mailboxes you need to protect, and the length of the contract. Discounts are often provided if you commit to a longer contract and the more mailboxes you have, the lower the per mailbox cost. Managed spam filtering for businesses starts at around $1 per user per month.