In-House Vs. Hosted Security. 10 Reasons Why Your is More Secure in a Hosted Environment

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1 In-House Vs. Hosted Security 10 Reasons Why Your is More Secure in a Hosted Environment

2 Introduction Software as a Service (SaaS) has quickly become the standard delivery model for critical business IT software and services. Business customers realize many benefits by leveraging SaaS services. The On-Demand model of SaaS infrastructure provides benefits to the customer by lowering their overall costs, while increasing flexibility, reliability, and overall solution security. However, as new businesses begin to evaluate SaaS software and services, many still have concerns about security, fearing that hosting their critical business applications and data with a SaaS provider will expose them to greater risk and loss of control. This concern is particularly acute for businesses messaging and collaboration needs around and instant messaging. As business is now a primary method of inter- and intra-corporate communications, including the exchange of sensitive financial data and intellectual property, businesses are growing increasingly concerned about the need for secured and messaging services. Microsoft Exchange is the leading business and collaboration solution for the small, up to the large, business markets, and this whitepaper compares the security of Microsoft Exchange Services deployed in-house versus a hosted model with SaaS service providers. By choosing Intermedia as their Hosted Exchange SaaS Solution Provider, businesses can achieve and total messaging security, as well as a piece of mind, by leveraging Intermedia s infrastructure and experience with running a secured messaging platform 2

3 The importance of and security has clearly become the dominant form of business communication. Businesses exchange tens of millions of s each day, many containing intellectual property such as product designs, business models, financial data, pricing strategies, supplier agreements, customer information, or employee HR data. Globally, there were more than 700 million business users in 2006 and this is expected to climb to over 900 million by It is estimated the average business user sends and receives between 500 and 600 non-spam s per week 1. In a recent King Research survey of mid-market IT professionals responsible for messaging systems, 96 percent of respondents said is important or extremely important and has a significant negative impact on business operations when not available. Today is commonly used for communication and collaboration between both internal and external contacts, used for file sharing, resource scheduling, contact management, and is the focal point of collaborative projects for organizations within virtually every industry. With the large volume of messages containing sensitive business and even personal information from every corner of an organization, it is not surprising that up to 75% of a company s intellectual property resides in data stores. This is particularly true for knowledge-based and service organizations. These intangible assets that embody patents, trademarks, databases, organizational techniques, and employees knowledge, experience and relationships represents some two-thirds of the value of America s large businesses. In addition to businesses desire to protect the important and confidential information they store in , industry and government regulations, including HIPAA and Sarbanes Oxley, place external and legal requirements on security. A recent US study found companies estimate nearly 1 in 5 outgoing s (19%) contained content that poses a legal, financial or regulatory risk. The most common form of non-compliant content is that contains confidential or proprietary business information (30%) followed by adult, obscene, or potentially offensive content (25%) and personal healthcare, financial or identity data which may violate privacy and data protection regulations (20%) 2. The Seven Layers of Security The properties that make Microsoft Exchange a powerful communications and collaboration tool also make it vulnerable to different types of threats. A comprehensive security strategy protects against these important threats: Viruses and malware Attackers who use as a conduit to invade corporate networks for the purposes of either stealing information, or taking control of computers for other illegal activities. Phishing Attackers who lure users into submitting personal or business information by convincing them they are interacting with a legitimate vendor or business partner, when they are in fact communicating with the attackers. Malicious employees & employee negligence Employees or ex-employees who inadvertently compromise sensitive business information, or worse, purposely try to access and/or steal privileged information. Corporate Espionage Attempts by competitors to gain an unfair advantage by accessing internal company information including product designs, launch plans or financial data. Hackers Internet pirates looking for valuable information that they can either use to illegally profit or sell on the black market. 1 The Radicati Group, End-User Study on Hygiene, Apr Consulting, Outbound and Content Security in Today s Enterprise,

4 To properly secure against these threats, business must employ a multi-tiered security infrastructure across multiple layers: Layer 1: Physical Security Most small and medium businesses that host their own Microsoft Exchange servers do so out of a corporate office. Servers are typically kept in a server closest or computer area, often protected by just a single locked door. While businesses often feel more comfortable keeping servers within eye sight inside their own offices, their trust may be misplaced. Every year, thousands of businesses experience theft, burglary or trespass, resulting in the damage or loss of computer hardware and ultimately their server. Layer 2: Logical Server Security s are only as secure as the servers they reside on. To properly secure Microsoft Exchange , the Exchange servers must be properly secured. This complicated, continuous process includes: Proper Microsoft Windows server operating system installation and hardening configuration Prompt testing and application of important security patches and updates to the operating system Strict configuration of user and administrative accounts with roles and permissions Proactive monitoring of the servers and services for viruses, intrusions, and any unexpected behaviors such as DoS attacks and intrusion attempts. Unfortunately, most small and medium businesses do not have the necessary experience or resources to allocate towards these tasks, thus creating exploitable vulnerabilities that compromise the security of their . Layer 3: Network Security Most hackers trying to attack corporate mail servers do so remotely through the Internet. They look for vulnerabilities in both the Exchange servers and network to gain unauthorized access to and the valuable data it holds. To protect against such attacks, businesses must ensure that they have properly installed and configured firewalls, Intrusion Prevention and Detection Services, and proactive monitors, to allow only authorized traffic to and from their Exchange servers. Layer 4: Client Security While resides on Exchange Servers, business users access their through desktop and mobile clients including Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, Entourage, Apple Mail, and Outlook Web Access. Providing secure access for these clients to the Exchange server, both from within and outside of the office, requires setup and administration on both the client and server machines. Layer 5: Antivirus and Antispam In addition to trying to obtain content contained within s, hackers often use as a gateway into corporate networks. They do this by sending viruses and malware they hope will get installed on corporate desktops. From there, these programs can send sensitive information back to the hacker or allow the hacker to take control of the desktop for use in other attacks. While many small and medium businesses run desktop-based virus and spam scanners, they often do not do so at the network or server level, relying entirely on the end-user to ensure the security of the entire company. 4

5 Layer 6: Administration and Policy Security One of the biggest security gaps in corporate is actually an internal threat, not external. Specifically, businesses are frequently victims of unauthorized access to by employees or consultants who are authorized to administer the servers. These employees abuse their administrative privileges to read access s from the CEO, president, Human Resources, and other colleagues that may provide them access to sensitive or privileged information. Layer 7: Backup and Recovery security goes beyond protection from theft and unauthorized access to also include recovery of in the case of Exchange server hardware or software failure. Not only is a primary communications tool for most businesses knowledge workers, but it is only the primary data store and file manager for those workers. However, few small businesses perform regularly scheduled backups of their business systems for quick restoration. Backup systems and storage media is expensive, and often small and medium businesses do not have the resources required to perform regularly scheduled backups, leaving their workers exposed in the case of catastrophic hardware or software failure. Intermedia Hosted Intermedia treats security as one its top priorities and works tirelessly to create and maintain the most secure infrastructure possible for its customers. Intermedia s philosophy is that security is not a one-time problem to fix; it requires ongoing dedication and attention and must be considered in everything the company does. To support this philosophy, Intermedia has a dedicated information security team whose full-time responsibility it is to secure and monitor the environment. Layer 1: Physical Security Intermedia hosts customers Exchange within its four datacenters. These datacenters are physically separated from its corporate offices and physical access to them is strictly controlled and limited to only those people who need access. Each datacenter is controlled under Intermedia s SAS 70 Type II certification guidelines. Access to the servers is protected through a multiple-layered system of authentication measures such as access cards, biometrics, and pass codes. This system ensures that no unauthorized people can gain physical access to the servers and overall infrastructure (servers are only one part of this network, backups, storage, etc are all critical as well). Layer 2: Server Security Intermedia proactively monitors and manages its servers to ensure they are always properly secured. Its experienced team of Exchange administrators knows how to properly configure each server for maximum performance, without compromising security through open ports or misconfigured user and administrative permissions. Both the Windows and Exchange Server software are patched with the latest updates and fixes from Microsoft on a regular basis. Intermedia runs regular antivirus scans on each machine to ensure that no malicious software can access its customers s as well as on their Mail Filter Gateways that scan all incoming mail before it even reaches the Exchange environment. These practices, combined with Intermedia s constant monitoring of its server environment, ensure that the servers hosting and managing your are always as secure as possible. 5

6 Layer 3: Network Security Intermedia s network is well protected by a battery of fault-tolerant, brand name firewalls. Each firewall is configured to block unauthorized traffic from entering the network. Intermedia s policy of redundancy and fault-tolerance ensure that backup systems are immediately up and running if any one firewall fails. In addition to blocking traffic, Intermedia runs a system of intrusion detection and prevention software. Working in concert with the firewalls, these systems monitor the traffic flowing into the network, isolate suspicious traffic, and notify the Intermedia network management and security team of any potential danger. Layer 4: Client Security Intermedia uses secure sockets layer (SSL) connections to encrypt data sent between the Exchange servers and the mail client used to access s. This secure connection protects the customers as they travel between the mail client and the Exchange server, regardless of whether the client is in the office, home, or using a wireless or public Internet connection at a café or in the airport. Layer 5: Antivirus & Antispam As part its hosted Exchange services, Intermedia includes antivirus and antispam filtering and protection. Each that is sent and received by its customers is filtered through SpamStopper, Intermedia s proprietary filtering solution. Not only does this solution mitigate the risks of viruses, malware and phishing attacks, it also greatly reduces the volume of unwanted, s thereby increasing employee productivity, efficiency, and overall performance. Layer 6: Administration Policy and Security Intermedia s Exchange environments are architected so that only mailbox owners and their designated delegates can access messages in a mailbox. Customers account administrators cannot access individual users . Intermedia also protects businesses against inappropriate content sent or received by the company through its content filtering feature. Using living dictionaries, account administrators can choose to filter profane, ethnic, religious, and gender slurs, ensure compliance for HIPAA and other regulations, and block information such as social security and credit card numbers from being sent via . Intermedia s simple action-based rules wizard can perform different actions on s that are flagged by the filter including delete, quarantine, and forward a copy to an administrator or HR manager. Layer 7: Backup and Recovery Intermedia performs daily backups of its Exchange servers, and keeps backup files for seven days. This ensures that customers will always have their , even in the event of catastrophic failure to the Exchange environment. Customers can also use backups to retrieve inadvertently deleted messages. Layer 8: Mail Encryption No matter how secure your infrastructure may be, in-house or hosted, the reality is that is most vulnerable when it travels over the public Internet from the sender s mail server, to the recipient s mail server. In that time, travels over a number of open networks, routers and servers that hackers can exploit to read an . This risk is greatly exacerbated by the fact that s are composed and sent in cleartext, an unencrypted format that is readable by anyone who can access the data. 6

7 Intermedia s Secure Mail solution solves this problem by allowing business customers to encrypt the s they send, whether the s are sent to other employees or colleagues outside the company. Because Secure Mail encrypts the into an unreadable format, a hacker could not read the , or any of its attachments, even if they are able to intercept it. Layer 9: Legal Protection Even if your confidential s reach their intended recipients without any internal or external security breaches, you cannot control what the recipients do with the information you have sent them. There are often legal liabilities associated with distributing confidential information. Intermedia solves this problem with its Legal Disclaimer solution. This solution enables companies to automatically insert a custom footer message at the bottom of each sent from their employees to external mail addresses with a customized disclaimer. The solution eliminates the problem of employees forgetting to add in the disclaimer manually when sending confidential information. Layer 10: Security Validation While the security measures above sound thorough, it is important to measure that they are indeed providing adequate security for Intermedia s customers. To measure effectiveness of its security infrastructure, Intermedia conducts its own tests, and relies on third parties for validation. Security Assessment Testing Periodically, Intermedia conducts vulnerability scans on its hosted Exchange to measure its security and identify any potential holes. External Validation Intermedia uses two third-party sources to validate its security practices: SAS 70 certification and PCI compliance. The first is Intermedia s SAS 70 Type II audit. This rigorous audit and process, performed by third-party auditors, ensures that every element of Intermedia s business, from security and systems administration to finance and billing, is actually managed and controlled to the standards Intermedia promises its customers. The SAS 70 Type II certification, the higher of two levels of SAS 70 certification, is third-party validation that Intermedia s security practices adhere to the highest of industry standards. The second external validation is payment card industry (PCI) compliance. PCI compliance is reached when a company meets the guidelines set forth by the major credit card companies as a guideline to help organizations that process card payments, prevent credit card fraud, hacking and various other security issues. A company processing, storing, or transmitting credit card numbers must be PCI compliant or they risk losing the ability to process credit card payments. Intermedia is PCI compliant and has secured its site by VeriSign, the industry leader in security. With VeriSign securing our site, you can rest assured that any data you send to use through our Web site is 100% protected and private through the strongest SSL encryption available. 7

8 Conclusion is a powerful platform for communication and collaboration, especially in distributed environments. But with these benefits come serious inherit security risks that require ongoing attention. A comprehensive security strategy employs multiple layers of defense from the physical to the digital, and up to the process and policy layers of an solution. Employing this comprehensive strategy is costly and time-consuming as both an initial investment and on an ongoing basis. Intermedia is a thought leader on security and offers one of the most comprehensive and effective security programs for hosted business , all included in the low monthly cost of its hosted Exchange offerings. To learn more about Intermedia s hosted Exchange solutions, please visit 8

9 About Intermedia Intermedia is the leading provider of hosted Exchange to small and medium businesses. With eight years of experience, and more than 300,000 mailboxes under management, Intermedia has the expertise to deliver Exchange and collaboration solutions that are as good, if not better and more secure than in house solutions. 9

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