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Achieving Compliance with ProofPoint E-mail Security Solutions

written by: •edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 2/4/2011
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Proofpoint, Inc. offers a very advanced, user-friendly e-mail security solution that is flexible, reliable and scalable. Automate outbound e-mail scanning originating from within your organization to comply with regulations and avoid embarrassing data loss events.

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    Overview

    If you're looking for a scalable e-mail solution, Proofpoint's e-mail security services and solutions may be your best bet. Proofpoint's advanced, rich feature set offers enterprise-class scanning to medium and large-sized organizations. The product is consistent across all avenues of deployment, whether it be hosted, purchased as an appliance, or installed on your physical/virtual server. A company that whole-heartedly supports application deployment in the virtual sense can be a very valuable partner in today's businesses.

    Proofpoint acts as a "man-in-the-middle," accepting e-mails from servers around the world into their solution. A myriad of events can be performed on the e-mail, such as stripping or banning attachments, monitoring for keywords, scanning for malware and verifying that your e-mail server actually has an account for the recipient. After scanning, e-mails are delivered to your e-mail servers for retrieval.

    I approached Proofpoint about their hosted service for three distinct reasons. First, I don't have to purchase, maintain and update any hardware. If I add 10,000 users to the solution, it's as simple as a phone call. Second, Proofpoint will queue your mail in the event of an e-mail server outage. While most outages result in bounce messages that can delay mail for days, Proofpoint's queueing insures that all messages are delivered immediately upon restoration of services. Third, Proofpoint does all my disaster recovery planning for me. With data centers in various locations around the world (you can limit your data to a particular geographic area, if that's a concern), a major power or data outage in an wide area of the country ensures that their services never stop receiving and scanning your organization's e-mails.

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    Threat Scanning

    Proofpoint scans incoming mails using F-Secure, a widely known antivirus solution. Scanning within multiple layers of archives is possible, and threats cleverly disguised as legitimate attachments are blocked. The E-mail Firewall features allows the administrator to fine-tune spam detection and create custom rules.

    While Proofpoint's threat scanning capabilities are solidly reliable, they're not the greatest feature of the solution. Those lie in the feature modules that can be licensed additionally.

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    Policy Adherence and Data Loss Prevention

    Proofpoint on Demand can help assure the privacy and security of the members of your organization using three different types of flexible, customizable features:

    • Content Compliance - ensure that messages adhere to size, attachment, encryption and language policies.
    • Regulatory Compliance - scan outbound e-mails for sensitive information such as financial information, health records and confidential personal information
    • Digital Asset Security - Proofpoint's software will scan data sources that you deem sensitive and check outbound messages for leaks of that data
    • E-mail Archiving - archive messages for future retrieval, reducing tape library space and expense
    • Encryption - when outbound messages violate a policy or contain sensitive information, encryption ensures that the recipient receives the message in a secure, encrypted and easy-to-retrieve fashion

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    Value

    Rating Average

    Charging far less than most enterprise-class competitors for basic inbound threat scanning places Proofpoint in a good position in the e-mail security arena. With the hosted service, additional features can be licensed and added easily without ever worrying about a forklift upgrade. If the term "hosted service" gives you chills about your service running on a VM in a cloud with little-to-no support, fret not; Proofpoint runs your hosted service on dedicated hardware and offers SLAs with financial repercussions for total outages. Add the regulatory compliance module for an over-the-top solution that will pass help your organization pass HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulatory audits.

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    User Experience

    Rating Average

    Users can be sent a "digest message" showing all their might-be-spam messages since the last digest was sent. They can block/white-list sender from this e-mail, or link into an SSL web portal that allows them to manage their own white/black-list. While Proofpoint's solution doesn't offer any type of Outlook-integrated features such as a toolbar or buttons, none of the other solutions reviewed offer integration either.

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    Regulatory Compliance

    Rating Average

    Proofpoint offers a wide variety of "canned," or included, templates for tracking outgoing social security numbers, ABA routing numbers, drug names and dosages, CUSIP, credit card numbers (even Japanese) and is customizable. Templates can be easily imported and exported for sharing with other organizations. After reviewing several leading e-mail security solutions, Proofpoint's Regulatory Compliance features clearly set their product in the forefront of outbound scanning accuracy and flexibility. Using this feature, organizations can decrease their liability and increase security simply by implementing the most basic of included templates.

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    Reliability

    Rating Average

    With multiple data centers around the world, load balancing features and world-class support, Proofpoint on Demand hosted e-mail security gives organizations an obvious advantage over in-house scanning and can greatly reduce costs.

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    Conclusion

    While I'm sure that Proofpoint on Demand has some shortcomings for some organizations, it is an excellent fit for most. Offering all of these great services on a broad range of platforms, Proofpoint has proved that it can be a leader in the e-mail security realm. Proofpoint will remain ahead of the pack as long as it continues to offer a comprehensive feature set and excel in perfecting each aspect of their offerings.