Email security solutions are used for blocking threats before they reach end users, including phishing and spear phishing emails, malware, spam, and other unwanted emails. Email security solutions have been an essential cybersecurity measure for decades and have been helping businesses to keep inboxes free of threats and to detect and block insider threats such as the theft of sensitive company data and personally identifiable information by employees.

One area where many email security solutions fail to perform well is the detection of malware. Email security solutions traditionally use anti-virus engines for detecting malware threats and they are constantly updated with new signatures when novel malware variants are detected. While these threat intelligence feeds ensure that email security solutions can detect known malware variants, there is a delay between a malware variant being detected and the signature being uploaded to the malware definition list. That delay may be a few minutes, hours, or days and cybercriminals exploit that window of opportunity.

While these signature-based defenses were sufficient for many decades, new malware variants are constantly being released with small changes that are sufficient to defeat signature-based detection methods. Cybercriminals are automating that process and are using large language models (LLMs) to accelerate the release of new malware variants.

Signature-based detection is still essential, but another feature is now required – one that can detect novel malware variants even if they have never been seen before. That feature is email sandboxing. An email sandbox is an isolated environment, often in the cloud, where emails are sent for deep analysis. When an email passes frontline checks and scans using anti-virus engines, they are sent to the sandbox for deep inspection.

The sandbox is designed to appear to be a genuine endpoint to trick the malware that it has reached its intended destination. The malware executes and performs its initial routines, such as connecting to its command-and-control center and reporting system information. Those actions are detected, the malware is quarantined, and the security team is alerted about the attempted attack. If the checks are passed, the email is released and delivered to the intended recipient. Without this vital security feature, many malicious emails will be delivered to end users.

While there are clear benefits to email sandboxing, there is one disadvantage and that is sandboxing message delivery delays. Time must be allowed for deep analysis, especially as some malware variants delay malicious actions to defeat sandboxes. That means that there is a delay in delivering messages that have been sent to the sandbox and are found to be clean. That delay could be around 20 minutes in some cases, which is far from ideal. To reduce delays to a minimum, it is possible to whitelist certain trusted senders to ensure that their messages are never sent to the sandbox and adjust the rules of the email security solution to limit the emails that are sent to the sandbox.

SpamTitan from TitanHQ uses dual anti-virus engines for signature-based detection and a Bitdefender-powered email sandbox for detecting novel malware variants. In addition to performing reputation checks to identify untrusted senders, SpamTitan includes pattern filtering that allows security teams to specify their own terminology for blocking messages, geo-filtering to block emails from certain geographical regions where the company does not operate, and AI and machine learning algorithms for predicting new phishing threats and assessing how emails deviate from standard messages usually received by the business.

SpamTitan is a multi-award-winning email security solution that can be provided as a hosted email filter or as a gateway spam filter to be installed on existing hardware as a virtual appliance. It has been developed to be quick and easy to install and use, works seamlessly with Microsoft 365 to improve protection, and is an ideal email security solution for Managed Service Providers to provide advanced email security to customers.

If you do not have a sandbox for email with your email security solution, now is the time to consider changing to a more advanced email security solution. Give the TitanHQ team a call for more information and to help get you set up on a free trial.