Email sandboxing is important for security, as it will block threats that traditional email filters fail to detect. While sandboxing is now considered to be an essential element of email security, one disadvantage is that it will delay the delivery of emails. In this post, we will explain why that is and how email delivery delays can be minimized or avoided altogether.

What Does Queued for Sandbox Mean?

If you use SpamTitan or another email security solution with email sandboxing, you may see the message “email queued for sandbox” from time to time. The queued for sandbox meaning is the message has been determined to warrant further inspection and it has been sent to the sandbox for deeper analysis. This is most likely because the email includes an attachment that is determined to be risky, even though it has passed the initial antivirus scans.

While email sandboxing is important for security, there is a downside, and that is processing messages in a sandbox and conducting behavioral inspection takes a little time. That means there will be a delay in delivering messages that have been sandboxed while behavioral checks are performed. Messages will only be delivered once all sandbox checks have been passed. If a large volume of suspicious emails are received at the same time, messages will be queued for analysis, hence the queued for sandbox message being displayed.

Sandbox Delays for Inbound Emails

The processing of messages in a sandbox can take a little time. Cyber threat actors do not want their malware and malicious code analyzed in a sandbox, as it will allow their malware to be identified. Further, once a malware sample has been identified, details will be shared with all other users of that security solution, which means no user will have that malicious file delivered to their inbox. SpamTitan’s email sandbox is powered by Bitdefender, so all members of the Bitdefender network who subscribe to its feeds will also be protected.

Many malware samples now have anti-sandbox technologies to prevent this. When the malware is dropped on a device it will analyze the environment it is in before launching any malicious actions. If it senses it is in a sandbox it will terminate and may attempt to self-delete to prevent analysis. One technique often seen is delaying any malicious processes for a set time after the payload is delivered. Many sandboxes will only analyze files for a short period, and the delay may be sufficient to trick the sandbox into releasing the file. It is therefore necessary to give the sandbox sufficient time for a full analysis.

Are Your Sandbox Delays Too Long?

Conducting analyses of emails in a sandbox is resource-intensive and can take several minutes and there may be delays to email delivery that are too long for some businesses. There are ways to avoid this, which we will discuss next, but it may be due to the email security solution you are using. The SpamTitan email sandbox is part of Bitdefender’s Global Protective Network, which was chosen not only for cutting-edge threat detection but also the speed of analysis. If you are experiencing long delays receiving emails, you should take advantage of the free trial of SpamTitan to see the difference the solution makes to the speed of email delivery for emails that require sandbox analysis.

How the SpamTitan Sandbox for Email Minimizes Delays

SpamTitan does not send all messages to the sandbox to avoid unnecessary email delays. If a message is suspicious and the decision is taken to send it to the sandbox for analysis, SpamTitan will check to see if the analysis has been completed every 15 seconds to ensure it is released in the shortest possible time frame. Employees will be aware that they have received a message that has been sent to the sandbox as the message delivery status is displayed in their history. Provided all sandbox checks are passed, the email will be delivered. This process will take no longer than 20 minutes. If a file is determined to be legitimate, details are retained by SpamTitan so if the attachment or message is encountered again, it will not be subjected to further analysis in the sandbox.

How to Avoid Sandbox Delays to Message Delivery

There are ways to avoid messages being placed in the queue for sandbox inspection. While it is not always advisable for security reasons, it is possible to whitelist specific email addresses and domains. This will ensure that emails from important clients that need a rapid response will be delivered without delay and will not be sent to the sandbox. The problem with this approach is that if a whitelisted email address or a domain is compromised and used to send malicious messages, they will be delivered.

What Happens if a Message is Misclassified as Malicious?

False positives do occur with spam and phishing emails as email filtering is not an exact science. While this is rare with SpamTitan, any misclassified emails will not be deleted as they will be sent to a quarantine folder. That folder can be configured to be accessible only by an administrator. The administrator can then check the validity of the quarantined messages and release any false positives. Since SpamTitan has artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, it will learn from any false positives, thus reducing the false positive rate in the future.

Talk with TitanHQ About Improving Email Security

If you are not currently using an email security solution with sandboxing or if your current email security solution is not AI-driven, contact TitanHQ to find out more about how SpamTitan can improve protection against sophisticated email threats. SpamTitan is available on a free trial to allow you to put the product to the test before deciding on a purchase, and product demonstrations can be arranged on request. If you proceed with a purchase, you will also benefit from TitanHQ’s industry-leading customer service. If you ever have a problem or a query, help is rapidly at hand.

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