SE Labs

Special Edition
Computer security testing comment and analysis from SE LABS Ⓡ

Scoring Email Security Services

How seriously do you take the email threat?

Cyber criminals often use email as a way to start an attack. According to many sources email is by far the most common way that attackers try to gain access to your business and personal systems.

The UK government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 reported that email phishing alone accounts for 83% of attacks.

Email cyber threat

But we all know that, don’t we? Because organisations, large and small, receive thousands of general and more targeted email threats every year.


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We don’t see them all because our email services throw some messages away as they arrive. Others end up in a quarantine system that only network administrators can access. But you may notice a pile of messages in your Junk folder, with or without phishing links, malware attachments and documents.

Denied, allowed or time-out?

Email security services don’t handle all threats in the same way. Some will be stopped dead, while others can infiltrate fully.

Somewhere in the middle we see email quarantine systems, Junk folders and edited messages – emails that have their links, attachments and even the words in the message tampered with.

This tampering may effectively remove a threat, or it may not. There is a lot to assessing an email security solution!

The approach that we take is to measure everything and then judge how important each result is. Our view is that keeping threats as far away from the user as possible is best.

But sometimes security personnel need to see what’s coming in, so quarantines can be useful investigation tools.

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We have devised a scoring method that credits or penalises services according to our view on best outcomes. See Protection and Legitimate Handling Accuracy on page 10 of the report for more.

We also have a beginner’s guide to email security.

We provide you with all of the results in this report so you can create your own personalised score using our data. If you prefer users to find threats in their Junk folder (yikes!) you can adjust the scoring accordingly. If you have a zero tolerance on false positives you can adjust the scores to take this into account too.

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SE Labs Ltd is a private, independently-owned and run testing company that assesses security products and services. The main laboratory is located in Wimbledon, South London. It has excellent local and international travel connections. The lab is open for prearranged client visits.


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