Enterprise Class Spam and Antivirus for Office 365

According to a report by Commtouch, in the first quarter of 2013, an average of 97.4 billion spam emails and 973 million malware emails were sent worldwide every day!  Although email spam has been on a decline according to a Kaspersky report, the average amount of email that was classified as spam was still a whopping 72.1% in 2012.  Kaspersky attributes the declining trend to an overall heightened awareness, increased law enforcement, and better spam protection technologies.
There are a myriad of options to choose from when looking for anti-spam solutions.  Many desktop and web based email clients have had rudimentary spam filters which have been built in for a number of years.  Additional options come in the form of add-on software or are bundled in with desktop antivirus or Internet security suites.  For the most part, these options are relegated to the consumer landscape.  For an enterprise to control and filter email, there are two main options: A server or appliance placed at the gateway, or a software as a service (SaaS) email filtering solution.  A major benefit for using a gateway or SaaS solution is that no software needs to be installed on workstations.  All the filtering is done before email ever makes it to the endpoint. Popular server and appliance based products include those from Barracuda, SonicWALL, Symantec, and McAfee.  SaaS solutions have become popular over the past few years because they eliminate the spam and malware email traffic from reaching the corporate network.  With over 70% of all email traffic being spam, that is a lot of bandwidth savings!  Popular SaaS solutions for spam and malware protection include offerings from Postini/Google, GFI, and Microsoft
Microsoft has been in the hosted spam and antivirus SaaS business with ForeFront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) sine 2007.  This year, it is being rebranded as Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP).  The good news for Office 365 enterprise plan subscribers is that EOP is included as part of the subscription.  You can manage whitelists, blacklists, content, quarantines, and more from the same administrative interface all Office 365 setting are located.  Some of the features include:

  • Multi-layered, real-time anti-spam and multi-engine anti-malware protection
  • Financially backed SLAs including protection from 100% of known viruses and 99% of spam
  • Customizable inbound and outbound anti-spam policies
  • IP allow and block lists
  • Near real-time reporting and message trace capabilities
  • Customizable end user notifications
  • Quarantine center
  • No hardware or software required

The features and protection included with the Office 365 enterprise level plans is competitive with other third-party dedicated SaaS solutions on the marketplace today.  Subscribers should give it a try since it comes with their subscription.  If it turns out not to meet business requirements or is lacking some critical features, the option to route mail through another solution is just a mail exchanger (MX) record change away.