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Better Together: How a Secure Email Gateway Can Help Improve Office 365 Security

Organizations of all kinds rely heavily on Office 365 to run their organizations, with research showing over a million companies worldwide and 600,000 companies in the United States using the platform in 2020. The reasons are clear: Office 365 offers unparalleled productivity features that most employees simply can’t do without.

But that widespread adoption also makes the platform a big target for malicious actors, who continue to find clever ways to attack organizations. While Office 365 has good built-in security features, is there a way to add even more protection? According to Phil Hay, senior research manager at Trustwave, the answer is yes.

Phil’s research has shown that by layering a Secure Email Gateway (SEG) over Office 365, organizations can improve their detection rates and their protection – at a cost that might be more reasonable than other alternatives. To learn more about the subject, we interviewed Phil.

Q:   Could you tell us about your research on integrating an SEG into Office 365?

Phil:   Essentially what organizations are doing here is taking an SEG and putting it in front of Office 365, in terms of network architecture. So instead of your email Domain Name System (DNS) records pointing directly at Office 365, and the email being delivered there directly, it will go to the SEG first – whether it’s SEG Cloud or SEG on-premise.

By routing to the SEG first, email gets scanned by the security technology first, so emails can be detected or quarantined at the SEG level and then passed to Office 365, which can do its own scanning.

So, when we talk about integrations, that’s what we’re referring to: placing an SEG in front the cloud. And from having done these integrations, the testing we’ve done has clearly shown that adding an additional layer of protection is beneficial. While Office 365 has very capable scanners that pick-up phishing and malware and other threats, our engines work differently and have propriety technology , so they will catch threats that Office 365 alone won’t, particularly at the E3 level.

Q:   What are the benefits?

Phil:   The SEG will pick up threats that Office 365 alone won’t, particularly around malware and business email compromise (BEC) threats. We have a saying that Office 365 and Trustwave SEG are better together – and that’s literally true. For organizations that really want to gain an extra edge in their protection, or for those that have particularly demanding security needs, an SEG can help provide it.


Q:   What type of organizations would best benefit from this integration?

Phil:   While nearly all organizations can potentially benefit from this, it’s the organizations that have particularly demanding security needs that will most likely want to focus on better safeguarding their email traffic. The higher up your security poster you go, the more benefit you can derive.

At Trustwave, we’ve also seen many small and mid-sized business (SMB) customers who might not even be on E3 yet and are seeing very high-spam volumes switch to this type of implementation. The SEQ can really help with spoofing emails, malicious attachments, and simply reducing the overall level of spam. In particular, this technology can help recognized many different types of attached files – some of which the native technology frequently misses.



In, Out and Around: 360° Security for Office 365

If your organization is using or plans to move to Office 365, learn what to expect from an email security, data protection and management perspective. Read Trustwave’s whitepaper for insights into protecting Office 365 email.

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