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Email security Best Practices; was RE: Email Security Poll

  • From: Christopher J. Wolff
  • Date: Sun Mar 07 15:28:38 2004

Based on Jon's results, it is reasonable to conclude that most corporate
network operators provide some level of email security.  Any given
corporation can establish top-down policies mandating the use of an email
security product.  Said corporation only needs to manage compliance with the

However, in the context of the commercial email operation there is a
delicate balance between email security and sales prevention.

My question is, at what point does email security become too onerous for the
ISP customer?  Is it reasonable to completely ban attachments?

Thank you for your time.

Christopher J. Wolff, VP CIO
Broadband Laboratories, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Jon
R. Kibler
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2004 1:02 PM
Subject: Email Security Poll Results

Hello all,

We had 39 responses to the poll. The results follow the signature paragraph.

A few words of explanation about the results.
  1) For the Yes-No questions, most answers were either YES or NO. However,
     a few of the results were something like "yes, but not encrypted zips."
     For the "yes-but" answers, I counted them as a "half of a yes."

  2) For the AV engines, the percentages add up to >100% because many users
     said they ran multiple AV engines.

  3) For frequency of AV signature updates, several responded something like
     "update daily or as new updates become available." For answers that
     they updated on a regular frequency plus more often when necessary, the
     frequency was counted as appropriate, plus it was also counted in the
     "other, plus as announced" category.

A few observations and comments:
  1) Subscribers to the DShield and NANOG mailing lists contributed answers.
     This means the answers are biased (originating from the "security
     group of users) and probably do not reflect the general state of email

  2) It was refreshing to find that everyone claimed to be updating their AV
     signatures on a regular basis. It would be interesting to know how many
     average users and small businesses update on such a regular basis.

  3) Personally, I found it very surprising how many organizations depended
     solely upon their end users to perform AV screening, that none was 
     being performed organization-wide. I was also surprised at how many
     organizations permit executable content to be sent by email.

I hope that everyone finds these results interesting and they are put to
good use!

Jon Kibler
Jon R. Kibler
Chief Technical Officer
A.S.E.T., Inc.
Charleston, SC  USA
(843) 849-8214

Please respond YES (Y), NO (N), or Not Applicable (N/A):
Does your organization perform any screening of email attachments?	72%

Does your organization perform A-V checks on all email attachments?	85%

Does your organization perform any checks on email attachment file type?
62% YES

Does your organization allow users to receive executable content
attachments?	49% YES

Does your organization allow users to receive zip file or similar compressed
attachments?	90% YES

Does your organization allow users to receive MS Office and similar type
files that may contain macro viruses?	95% YES

Does your organization allow users to receive embedded or attached HTML
email?	99% YES

Does your organization allow users to receive active content attachments,
such as HTML with <SCRIPT> tags?	80% YES

Please respond as appropriate:
What AV engine do you use to screen email attachments (Symantec, NAI,
FProtect, Trend, ClamAV, etc)?
Symantec	53%
McAfee		16%
ClamAV		16%
Trend		16%
Kaspersky	 8%
AVG		 8%
Sophos		 5%
Other		 5%
Fsecure		 3%

How often does your organization update its AV signatures?
every 2 hrs or more often	16%
every 4 hrs			 8%
every 8 hrs			 8%
every 12 hrs			 5%
daily				58%
only as announced		 5%
other, plus as announced 	16%

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