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Secure Your E-mail Systems – Protecting Against Port 25 Vulnerabilities

Written By: CipherTrust

It goes without saying that e-mail plays a critical role in any organization. This relatively new communication technology has, by many accounts, replaced the telephone as the most useful business tool available. Unfortunately, e-mail has also been a victim of its own success and presents a unique threat to the enterprise network as a whole.

Protecting networks from viruses and hackers has traditionally been the responsibility of the Firewalls, Virus Scanners, and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) set up by enterprises as a defense against the myriad attacks they come under each day. Virus scanners scan each PC in the network, gateway servers are guarded against attempts to gain access by locking down extraneous ports and firewalls prevent unauthorized programs from accessing the network. All these measures prevent direct attacks against the network on every port except port 25 and port 110 the ports used by SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and POP (Post Office Protocol) to transmit e-mail from one server to another.

Ports are the openings in the operating system through which applications connect to each other. When a firewall receives an e-mail connection on port 25, it generally assumes that the transmission is e-mail and allows it to flow through to the e-mail server. The transmission may be a valid e-mail, it could be a virus or a spam, or it could be a job offer for an employee or something much worse. Regardless of the true intent of the e-mail, at this point it is incumbent upon various systems within the network to guard against these threats. Unfortunately, experience has taught us that partial success in these areas is the norm, not the exception.
Stop E-mail Threats at The Gateway

The best place to stop a threat is before it gets inside the network. Virus scanners are only as good as their latest update, and are virtually useless against new viruses that have yet to be identified. If a user does not update his virus definition list, then his machine will be infected. A pornographic spam will offend an employee when it slips through the spam filter, and the job offer from the competitor wont go away once the recipient has printed it out on her printer. The best way to prevent these malicious attacks is to stop them before they become a problem at the gateway.

Stopping spam and other malicious e-mail traffic at the gateway requires a coordinated effort to solve a whole host of issues. These include, but are certainly not limited to, spam, viruses, corporate policy infringements, directory harvest attacks, denial of service attacks, phishing, spoofing, and snooping. Furthermore, accuracy in identifying spam e-mails is crucial. It is much better to receive the occasional spam than accidentally filter out an important e-mail from a customer.

Historically, enterprises have turned to multiple vendors to solve their e-mail security issues. They have relied on anti virus vendors to protect them from viruses. They use a separate anti spam vendor to help cut back on the spam. Then there are the issues of content filtering, policy enforcement, encryption, and network security. Over time it has become clear that having so many vendors approaching these issues from so many directions is prohibitively expensive and time consuming for administrators to manage.

Increasingly companies are turning to hardened e-mail appliances like CipherTrusts IronMail. According to Gartner, the globally respected IT research firm, Instead of having several email security-related point products at the boundary, many enterprises will want only one.

IronMail is designed specifically to guard against port 25 attacks on enterprise e-mail systems. It can be tuned to work effectively with any type of organization and has been employed for use in a wide range of industries such as healthcare, government, finance, education, manufacturing, retail, and many more. It allows organizations to stop spam and viruses, protect employees from fraud and inappropriate content, enforce corporate policies, provide secure delivery, encrypt e-mail, and provide remote access.
Find the Right Solution

Learn more about how IronMail can secure enterprise e-mail systems by visiting www.ciphertrust.com or by downloading CipherTrusts FREE whitepaper, b>Securing Email Systems: An Overview of IronMail, the Secure Email Gateway. This FREE resource will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about securing your e-mail systems and ensuring system availability to end users.

About the Author

CipherTrust is the leader in anti-spam and email security. Learn more by downloading our free whitepaper, Securing the E-mail Boundary: An overview of IronMail or by visiting www.ciphertrust.com.

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