av protectionThe Baltimore Ravens won their first Super Bowl in 2000 on the strength of a nearly impenetrable defense. It allowed just 10.3 points per game – a record for a 16-game season in the National Football League.

Baltimore was strong at the line of scrimmage, hard-hitting in the linebacking corps, and suffocating throughout the secondary. The Ravens, to use a network security term, “layered” their defense.

The strategy shouldn’t be considered unique to football, either. With the right antivirus (AV) technology, it’s possible – as well as critical – to protect the corporate network in the same way the Ravens guarded their goal line.

Today’s hackers and malicious code writers operate with an unprecedented level of sophistication. This reality doesn’t bode well for small to mid-sized businesses relying on one engine to handle the volume and variety of spam and viruses targeting corporate accounts. A solution with multiple engines is critical for blocking spam and thwarting email-borne threats against the network.

Consider these findings from the “Email Statistics Report, 2012-2016” published by The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm in California:

Overall, anti-spam technology has become increasingly adept at recognizing spam before it even reaches the user’s inbox. However, the fight against spam is a never-ending battle, where spammers and anti-spam vendors try to outsmart each other. Over the next four years, the amount of spam received is expected to remain at roughly 15% of email received.

The firm also predicted before this year began that “a typical 1,000-user organization” may spend up to $1.8 million annually to manage the high volume of unsolicited bulk messages.

There’s also the matter of contending with viruses, Trojans, worms and other forms of malware transmitted via email. The New York Times – by no means a small operation – recently dealt with a nightmare scenario: Earlier this year, the newspaper’s antivirus software failed to identify 44 of 45 pieces of malware installed on the network over a four-month period. Custom malware created and deployed by Chinese hackers claimed reporters’ usernames and passwords.

The Times’ example isn’t intended to suggest inferior software was used. Rather, it should reinforce the notion that “if it can happen to the big guy …”

So what’s the answer?

“The solution, security experts say, is to deploy technology that keeps a very, very close eye on what’s happening inside your network,” this CNN Money article noted. “You can’t always prevent attackers from getting in, but you can at least set tripwires to alert you when they do.”

This brings us back to the defense-in-depth strategy. An email security solution with multiple scanners at mail server level reduces the average response time to a virus outbreak. In other words, grouping multiple engines with different detection and response rates builds a deep defense.

The network, as a result, is less likely to be infected.

As this GFI white paper explains, “The use of multiple virus engines also enables security administrators to be vendor-independent when it comes to virus scanning, thereby able to use the best of breed virus engines available on the market.”

Here are some key questions to consider when searching for a comprehensive email security solution:

  • Can users flag their email as spam from any Outlook® client?
  • Can emails originating from malicious email servers be blocked?
  • Can blocked emails be deleted or redirected to a secure quarantine?
  • Can users manage their own spam quarantine? And can the system administrator be solely responsible for handling serious threats to the malware quarantine?
  • Can emails containing confidential information (e.g., credit card and Social Security numbers) be stopped?

Layered AV protection offers the most dependable way to detect and address email-borne threats. One engine isn’t likely to catch everything, particularly as hackers and spammers grow more creative in their approach to disrupt and do damage.

“The pace of technology evolution will only accelerate – as will the cyber risks,” Paul van Kessel, the global risk leader for Ernst & Young, recently told CNBC.com. “And … not considering risks until they arise gives cyber-attackers the advantage, jeopardizing an organization’s survival.”

Think of enhancing your email security as a numbers game. But remember: It’s a game you can’t afford to lose.

Learn more about how your business can benefit from superior email security software today.