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  • Writer's pictureDarcy Coop

Guardians of the Inbox: Which Email Security Solution Reigns Supreme

Updated: Mar 10

As we set our sights on the future of technology, I'm thrilled to share this article with you - which is the first in a series of Technology Spotlights that we will be sharing on your Blog over the coming months.

We welcome your feedback and ask you to reach out directly with any questions or requests to see data sheets.

We start the Technology Spotlights series off by covering Email Security. In this article, we will be sharing a side-by-side comparison of key technologies and vendors in this space and how the technologies differ.

Key Email Security Solution Differences?

One of the key differences in the email security space is how different solutions use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and prevent threats. Some solutions rely on a traditional gateway-based solution, sometimes utilising AI, where incoming emails are scanned before they reach the inbox to filter out spam and malware. However, this approach can miss more sophisticated attacks that bypass the gateway, such as impersonation, spoofing, or compromised email attacks. 

Other solutions use machine learning AI, which continuously monitors and analyses emails after they are delivered to the inbox and alerts users of any suspicious, malicious or abnormal activity. This approach can protect users from a wider range of threats, including those that target human behaviour and psychology, such as phishing or social engineering. Additionally, some solutions offer real-time protection, which means that they can dynamically block or modify malicious links or attachments even after the user has clicked on them, preventing any harm or data loss.

In an ideal world, you would utilise a solution or solutions that cover both self-learning AI technology and traditional gateway solutions.

The solutions we are comparing today compete at various levels on price, feature set and protection - please contact us for further details or if you would like to see a data sheet on any of the products we discussed in this blog.


A cloud-native email security platform that integrates with Office 365 via API to protect against advanced threats. It uses a patented AI and machine learning technology that scans every email in real-time, and before it reaches the inbox, to detect and block malicious emails. It also leverages threat intelligence from multiple sources, including Microsoft, to enhance its detection capabilities. Avanan also protects against known threats as a traditional email gateway solution will, whilst detecting and blocking sophisticated attacks by analysing the content, context, and metadata of each email, and applying multiple layers of defence, such as computer vision, natural language processing, and behavioural analysis.  Avanan delivers a simple and intuitive interface and dashboard that allows administrators to configure policies, monitor activity, and generate reports. Avanan has a bolt-on product for achieving which can deliver up to 99 years of retention. Click here to request a data sheet


Email scanning is more on the same level as Avanan and is one of their competitors. DarkTrace is an AI-powered email security solution that works with Office 365 via API. Darktrace uses self-learning technology to spot anomalies or deviations in user and device behaviour that signal a threat. Darktrace can react to attacks in real time to block or quarantine. DarkTrace does not protect against known threats as a traditional email gateway will, best placed, it is designed to compliment and not replace existing email security solutions that filter out spam and malware.  DarkTrace does not rely on predefined rules or signatures but rather uses self-learning AI to understand the normal behaviour for each user and device to spot deviations that indicate a threat. Darktrace gives a comprehensive view of the email environment, with visualisations and reports but it is more time intensive to manage as the interface is not as simplistic. Click here to request a data sheet


Focuses on phishing protection ONLY – this is not an Anti-Spam product.  It is designed to tag onto a service such as Microsoft or Google to pick up the slack on what the EOP and Defender service cannot catch.  This is designed to bolster another email scanning service.  It employs a multi-layered approach that includes AI-based email scanning, anomaly detection, and advanced threat intelligence. IronScales also features user training and phishing simulation to enhance organisational security awareness. It offers a unique crowd-sourced threat intelligence system, where threats identified by any user can enhance protection for the entire user community. Click here to request a data sheet

Microsoft Defender

An API-integrated solution that works seamlessly with Microsoft 365 to provide enhanced email security against phishing, malware, and other threats. It leverages AI artificial intelligence, machine learning, and behavioural analysis to detect and block malicious emails before they reach the inbox. It also offers real-time threat intelligence, automated investigation and response, and advanced anti-spoofing and impersonation protection. Microsoft Defender is more time-consuming to configure and manage compared to most other solutions in this comparison, but this time is required to get the full value out of the product. Defender does not require any MX record changes or connectors. It is designed to complement the existing capabilities of Exchange Online Protection and improve the overall email security posture of Microsoft 365 customers. Click here to request a data sheet


A traditional gateway scanner, where you have to change MX records and create connectors in 365 to point the mail in the right direction.  It is not API-integrated and not AI-driven, although it does have a heuristic element.  Being a traditional scanning service, it can be long-winded to set up and a bit of an unwieldy product to get to grips with, making it time-consuming.  All of the policies have to be configured manually.  ProofPoint offers a 30 day emergency inbox and has an add on User Cyber Awareness platform. It is designed with Anti-Spam and Anti-Malware in mind, so it's not as hot on the threat hunting for phishing as something like Avanan or IronScales, but it still does a good job and has been an industry standard for about 15 years and a firm favourite to many companies all over the UK and EUR for a long time. Click here to request a data sheet


A traditional gateway scanner, most similar to ProofPoint, that integrates with Office 365 via API to protect against spam, malware, phishing, impersonation, and data loss. It also offers archiving, backup, and continuity services for email. Mimecast uses a combination of signature-based and behaviour-based detection methods to identify and block malicious emails. It also leverages threat intelligence from a global network of customers and partners to improve its detection capabilities. Mimecast offers an emergency inbox which can deliver up to forever retention. Mimecast has a user-friendly interface and dashboard that allows administrators to configure policies, monitor activity, and generate reports. It also provides end-user awareness training and tools to report and remediate phishing attacks. Click here to request a data sheet

In An Ideal World

In an ideal business landscape, organisations would deploy a combination of two distinct solution types to fortify their email protection. These solutions would work in tandem to safeguard against a wide array of email security threats - the recommended approach would be:

1.     Self-learning AI solutions such as DarkTrace Detect/Respond or Avanan

2.     Traditional email gateway solutions such as Mimecast or ProofPoint.

The balance between protection and cost

While this dual-layered approach provides comprehensive security, it does come with a premium price tag. Organisations must weigh up the extra cost against the potential savings that could result from preventing a breach.  It's a critical decision - one that requires thoughtful consideration.

Remember, investing in robust security is an investment in safeguarding sensitive data, maintaining trust, and protecting your business from costly breaches.

Email Security - Technology Insights - find the best fit for you!

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