How do you take your email, filtered or non-filtered?
Of all the email directed to a typical business around 75% will probably be junk mail, or spam. In our experience we see anywhere between 50% and 90% across our client base. This spam may be harmless but annoying offers of products, or it could lead to serious damage to a firm's computers or data.
A primary defence against spam is mail filtering
Mail filtering is the process of scrutinising every email flowing to (and preferably from) your systems and external email users to try to identify spam emails by their contents. This can occur either on your firm's own mail server, or at an external filtering service.
How filtering can help:
1. Reduce data volumes and server load
If all junk email was delivered to your server you could expect to be paying for four times as much mail-related data as you would if this was filtered out. Depending on your internet plan and email volumes that can be significant money. Your mail server would also be working four times as hard processing that email, possibly leading to performance and capacity issues. If your email was hosted in the 'cloud' then you'd probably be wasting most of your mailbox quotas.
2. Minimise spam and virus exposure
Perhaps the biggest resource waste from junk email is your time. If only one in four emails is not junk then you'll be spending a lot of time picking real emails out of the noise, increasing your risk of missing important things. You can apply local filters to assist with this, but these need to be constantly kept up to date to be effective. Furthermore about 3-4% of all junk emails contain directly malicious content within the email itself, which can lead to virus infections or other harmful consequences. A further unknown - but likely large - percentage of spam will contain links to malicious websites.
3. Minimise the risk of blacklisting
If your mail server is detected sending malicious or junk emails (if a local machine has picked up an infection) then it may be blacklisted by various monitoring services on the internet. Recipients who subscribe to those blacklist monitors will then be unable to receive email from you until the listing is removed, which can be an arduous process. A mail filtering service on outbound emails will block most malicious content, and even if something happens to get through it will be less likely to lead to your own mail server being blacklisted.
4. Reduce your mail server's exposure to the internet
Allowing anyone on the internet to connect to your mail server to deliver email directly increases the chances of any unfixed bugs in the server software being able to be exploited by someone with malicious intent. If all email is delivered via an external filtering service then your firewall can restrict such connections to a small set of trusted addresses, giving hackers one less thing they can target.
5. Provide a buffer if your mail server is down
If you're receiving email directly to your own server, then if your internet link or the server is down for long enough any emails being directed to you will likely 'bounce' back to the sender with a non-delivery message. Aside from possibly losing these emails, it's not a good corporate look. Mail filtering services will generally receive on your behalf and forward on, and so will save incoming emails while your server is unreachable for later delivery.
6. Provide additional email storage and archiving options
External mail filtering services can also offer the ability to store emails sent and received by you for archiving purposes, which can supplement or in some cases replace the need for internal email archiving solutions. This will generally only apply to email with external parties however, as internal emails between employees are normally not seen by the filtering service.
7. Improve large scale sending performance
Finally if your business regularly does large scale mail outs then using a mail filtering service for your outbound email may offer significant performance enhancement. This is because the filtering service's servers may be able to connect to a larger number of simultaneous recipients than your own server could, thus making the delivery process much more efficient.
Deciding on an internal or external mail filter depends on which of these benefits your firm sees as important, and the pros and cons should be discussed with your IT support.
As with all security-related issues, there's no such thing as perfect filtering. You will get occasional spam slipping through the net, as well as legitimate emails getting caught. But operating without a mail filter these days is really not a sensible option for any business.
Don't get scammed
If your company’s email accounts aren’t protected, scam emails like the one above are almost certainly being received by your staff. Cybercriminals know people can be tricked; that’s why they send out millions of scam messages and put so much effort into making them look convincing.
People are not machines; we're all capable of making bad judgement calls. Without email filtering protecting your business, it’s just a matter of time before someone in your organisation has a momentary lapse of judgement and clicks on the wrong thing.
For a few dollars per staff member per month, you can protect your business with MailGuard's predictive email security.
Talk to an expert at MailGuard today about making your company's network secure: click here.
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