Email communication is what drives higher education forward. It’s a point of communication between faculty, staff, and students, how socials and clubs get organized, and is overall a vital learning tool. It’s also, unfortunately, a dense network of attack vectors that threat actors are itching to take advantage of.
When it comes to finding a robust, advanced email security solution, universities and colleges need somewhat of a more nuanced approach that is successful in reaching endpoints – and has to contend with the fact that delivering security awareness training to every single person connected to the network is not only difficult, but time-consuming and costly.
The email security needs of high education institutions differ from that of high schools and middle schools. Connections are being made outside of the network, and solutions must be highly scalable as tens of thousands of students, faculty, and staff connect to the network with potentially more than one device. The solution must be able to extend to endpoints outside of the centralized data center and it needs to be able to handle a large number of users. It also requires strong filtering capabilities and customization policies.
We ran an MX report on the domains of most universities in the USA and UK to find which vendors were used the most, which we’ve listed below. It is worth noting that the majority of these solutions are cloud-based, with a few exceptions. When running the MX report, it did not display any on-prem solutions universities and colleges might be using.
We looked at what email security is used by universities based on reviewing their MX records.
What Is Email Security?
Email security refers to the multiple tools and processes that are onboarded in order to safeguard and protect email accounts, email communications and content, and data from being compromised, stolen, lost, or inappropriately accessed. Email security is put in place to help defend against common, recurring, and–often–devastating email-borne attacks such as phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, and spam. Email-based attacks are often so successful due to their prevalence, sophistication, and ability to easily access other accounts and devices if successful. Email-based attacks tend to rely on the concept of human error in order to be successful, meaning that there will always be at least one user who will fall prey to an email-based attack due to human error or lack of judgment.
How Does An Email Security Solution Work?
Email solutions tend to differ in what they can offer and how they operate. Secure email gateways (SEGs) will filter and block emails before they reach the server, post-delivery protection tools will operate directly in the email server, and isolation-based approaches will isolate email threats entirely away from endpoints. All three offer something slightly different, meaning that each is more effective at blocking certain attacks than the other. In any case, deploying a mix of two or more approaches can offer more comprehensive protection.
What Benefits Can Email Security Bring?
With a layered, comprehensive approach, emails security solutions can offer:
- Malware and ransomware protection
- Spear and BEC phishing protection
- Email content filtering
- Credential theft prevention
- Data exfiltration
- Web threat isolation
- Phishing protection
- Spam filtering
- Data encryption
Email is often the number one route an attack will leverage in order to instigate an attack on a network. Email security services can help to ensure that your email accounts and network remain protected.