Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Real Users Speak: Cisco and the Elements of Robust Email Security

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What does it take to implement robust email security? According to users of Cisco Email Security (ESA) on IT Central Station, it takes a combination of distinctive elements in an email security solution to attain this goal. These include sophisticated filtering, built-in intelligence and policy definition and enforcement capabilities. The system should also be easy to use.

Real users share their unbiased opinions on what makes Cisco Email Security the #1 ranked product in IT Central Station’s Messaging Security category.

Filtering out spam and phishing messages


Companies worry about employees clicking on malicious links in phishing emails or getting deluged with bogus spam messages. Indeed, the attack chain for a great many data breaches and ransomware attacks starts with an email to an unsuspecting person.  Effective email filtering is thus a compelling feature for an email security solution. IT Central Station members expressed this opinion.

For example, Michael L., a Network Security Engineer at Konga Online Shopping Ltd., a retailer with over 1,000 employees, acknowledged that Cisco Email Security Appliance (ESA) “helped with mail filtering and load balancing between Exchange servers.” In particular, he singled out Cisco Email Security because, as he said, “Cisco Email Security enabled us to blockade domains that send these emails. Cisco Email Security gave us fantastic service. The filtering is something I found very valuable.”

“Initially, the most valuable feature for us was the SenderBase Reputation,” said a Regional ICT Security Officer at an energy/utilities company with over 10,000 employees. He added that it “reduced the number of emails that were even considered by the system by a huge number, before we ended up processing them to get through the spam, the marketing, and the virus-attached emails. Since then, customized filtering has been very effective and useful for us.”

A Security Engineer at an energy/utilities company similarly remarked, “We have seen ROI. Only 70 percent of phishing and bad emails are getting through. There are very few solutions that boast this percentage of filtering. This level of filtering helps our company. The most valuable features are Advanced Malware Protection, URL filtering, and of course Reputation Filtering.”

Built-in intelligence


The volume and variety of email translates into a need for security that’s augmented by machine intelligence. Cisco ESA users spoke to this ability, with John A., a Network Security Engineer at a small tech services company, noting that, “Cisco was scanning our emails with their own intelligence. I liked that.” An Information Security Analyst at a healthcare company also commented on Cisco ESA’s Intelligent Multi-Scan (IMS) engine, saying “it does a good job, right out-of-the-box, of blocking the vast majority of things that should be blocked.”

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For the energy company Regional ICT Security Officer, built-in email security intelligence came in the form of Talos. As he put it, “Instead of just specifically stopping known spam sources and using that to stop virus-infected emails, the Talos solution which they’re now providing has a lot of attraction because it helps to prevent phishing emails.”

Policy enforcement


IT Central Station members addressed the issue of security policy definition and enforcement as an element of strong email security. As Keith K., a Senior Email Engineer at a legal firm with over 1,000 employees explained, “We use it [Cisco ESA] for different policies or as another scanning engine, e.g., on the desktop or for data coming through another email gateway.” He added, “The most valuable feature is the policies or rules that you can put on it. This definitely helps with routing specific things to different destinations within our organization, or even potentially blocking when something is coming in and out.”

Setu S., a System Administrator at a financial services firm with over 1,000 employees echoed this sentiment, sharing that his team uses Cisco Email Security for “customized policies based on our security measures using this tool to scan the emails in our inboxes.” He noted, “We also check all incoming emails. Because we can customize policies with it, we have good documentation.”

Ease of use


Email security is challenging enough that security professionals prefer solutions that are easy to use. In this context, Mir A., a Network Engineer at a hospitality company with over 10,000 employees, observed that Cisco ESA “was really easy to implement.” As he said, “Even a newcomer joining the company could easily implement it.” John A found that “anybody could use it. You don’t have to be familiar with IT to be able to handle navigating it. The deployment was quite easy.”

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This user also noted, “GUI is self-explanatory: If you want to block emails, you want to erase emails, you do the IP address configuration and what your DNS is.” The healthcare Information Security Analyst said, “Black-listing and white-listing are highly intuitive and easy to do.”

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