Table of Contents
A few months ago we performed a review and test drive of Altaro's Office 365 Backup, a comprehensive solution to backup and recover MS Exchange, Teams, OneDrive & SharePoint data.
Altaro is now part of Hornetsecurity, the leading email cloud security provider in Europe. In this article, we'll review their 365 Total Protection suite, a fully-featured, enterprise-level security management solution for Microsoft 365 that offers several powerful, yet extremely intuitive features to provide comprehensive protection for Microsoft cloud services.
Before reviewing the product, it could be wise to spend some time introducing the authors: IT security is a complex subject that requires not only enormous experience but also a solid, well-established underlying structure that has a credible background in the sector. Hornetsecurity is definitely up to the task, being a company specializing in cloud security solutions and services since 2007.
Headquartered in Germany, the company currently operates in more than 30 countries, including UK, Spain, US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and so on. Their numbers speak for themselves: more than 1700 platform improvements in the last month, more than 250 Five-Star Reviews on Spiceworks (one of the biggest and most trustable IT-related online community of the web), Trail Blazer in Radicati’s Secure Email Gateway Market Quadrant, and - most importantly - more than 50K companies using their IT Security services.
If you think that an organization's credibility should be measured by the results achieved over time, Hornetsecurity will not disappoint you, since its background and achievements clearly demonstrate that they are up to the high expectations required by a comprehensive IT Security solution for the cloud.
Cloud-based SaaS approach
365 Total Protection is not a "desktop" software, and doesn't require any services or agents to be installed on your organization's workstations, servers, or endpoints: it's a SaaS solution that lives entirely in the cloud, by connecting to our Microsoft 365 organization's account (and its underlying Azure Tenant) as a third-party service using the Microsoft APIs. This also means that it doesn't require any hardware, server, device or virtual machine: if you're used to software tools or appliances, you already know that such approach will allow your company to save a lot of money, since there will be no need to deploy dedicated CPUs, RAM, disk space, and other computational or storage resources - as well as the maintenance efforts required to manage all that.
In a nutshell, we can say that 365 Total Protection doesn't require hardware and maintenance costs.
Plans and Features
365 Total Protection is available on three subscription plans - Business, Enterprise, and Enterprise Backup - each one having an incremental amount of features. In this section we'll provide a full breakdown on the most notable ones.
The Business plan includes:
- E-Mail Live Tracking. This feature allows you to real-time monitor your e-mail communication flow. More specifically: you can check the encryption method and the classification for each incoming and outgoing mail; you can define filters to quickly organize, auto-delete, quarantine, or otherwise handle incoming e-mail messages; you can whitelist or blacklist e-mail addresses, or set them to automatically mark their correspondence as spam.
- Infomail Handling. A newsletter and mailing-list dedicated filter that can be used to prevent your mailboxes from being spammed by marketing or informative e-mail messages, with a daily overview list that allows individual users to whitelist these messages (and/or their sender) in case they want to receive them.
- Content Control. An advanced, highly-configurable categorization and filtering tool that can be used to automate the incoming and outgoing e-mail communication flow based on the e-mail message's content - including attachments. This is an incredibly useful feature in terms of IT Security since the vast majority of e-mail-related threats come in form of file attachments (trojan horses, ransomware, and other malware). More precisely, e-mail messages containing potentially malicious file attachments can be configured to be directly put under quarantine, as well as being stripped off the attachments before being delivered to the recipient. In case the organization requires some users to receive attachments, they can set up precise authorization rules allowing just that. Such a level of control is not only helpful from an IT Security perspective but can also be useful to organize the incoming e-mail flow going to the various company departments in a more efficient way.
- Compliance Filter. This filter can be used to apply self-defined policies to incoming and outgoing e-mail messages using either simple, string-based lookups or advanced, RegEx-based rules. The e-mail messages matching the filter's rules can be rejected, redirected, marked as spam or virus, have a BCC added, trigger an auto-answer that will be sent to the sender, and the like.
- Spam and Malware protection. This is one of the most important security-related features of 365 Total Protection: a comprehensive, real-time threat detection with multi-stage in-depth analysis that will detect known threats, new threats, and potential third-party attacks. This feature, designed using the latest threat blocking & threat intelligence mechanisms, will be able to detect incoming spam, malware, and viruses with a success rate of 99%. If we consider how many spam & dangerous e-mail messages an organization receives nowadays, we can easily understand the utmost importance of this feature in terms of IT Security.
- Allow and deny lists. This feature is Outlook-specific and requires the installation of a dedicated Outlook Add-In. Once done, your users will be able to use a GUI-based tool to control some of the 365 Total Protection features and services directly from their devices. Such features include an allow list (whitelist) and a deny list (blacklist) that can be used to further personalize the generic filters' behavior (unless overridden by an elevated-level rule).
- Individual signatures and disclaimers. Being able to personalize their user's own signatures is a most wanted feature of several organizations: 365 Total Protection allows your company to do that with a easy to use, centralized monitor interface that can be used to set up a standard signature structure and rule set for the whole company, as well as individual signatures. Furthermore, centralized disclaimers can be defined and appended to all signatures.
- Intelligent Ads. This feature allows your administrators to set up advertising banners or informative messages that will appear in the form of a popup to all users, or a selected group of users. The ads can have hyperlinks, which can be useful to quickly communicate where to find certain resources or what to do.
- S/MIME & PGP Encryption. Another huge IT security feature: a cloud-based encryption technology based on S/MIME certificates and/or PGP keys that allows to encrypt the entire e-mail communication flow. This is great from a Data Protection perspective since it automatically protects all restricted or sensitive content that could be present in all e-mail messages (including file attachments).
- Websafe support. Websafe is a "virtualized secure mailbox" service that allows your company users to send encrypted e-mail messages even if the receiver cannot directly receive them: in a nutshell, the service will automatically create an encrypted virtual mailbox that the receiver can securely connect to (using the web browser), and send all the messages to that mailbox. The receiver will then get a notification for each e-mail message sent to him/her, telling him/her to connect to the virtual mailbox to securely read them.
The Enterprise plan includes all the features offered by the Business plan, plus the following ones:
- E-Mail Archiving and Retention. Exchange Online lacks a proper e-mail archiving feature, thus making difficult to separate "live" mail from archived ones. 365 Total Protection handles e-mail archiving transparently and automatically, with a dedicated process that is launched whenever email messages are received and sent. The archive retention period can be configured using different policies, in order to make the organization's e-mail retention capabilities compliant with the data protection regulations active in the country. Furthermore, exclusions lists can be set up to prevent some kind of e-mail messages (such as private ones) to be archived, based on manual activity or filter-based rules.
- eDiscovery. Being able to locate an old e-mail message can be hard, especially if the organization receives TONS of e-mail messages every day. The eDiscovery feature can resolve this issue by offering advanced e-mail search capabilities that can be used to find any e-mail using complex real-time search algorithms based upon key indexes and full-text indexes.
- Forensic Analysis. Yet another IT Security feature that can help any organization to reach an ISO-27001 certified status: an AI-based feature that can detect suspicious e-mail messages that could become a threat at an early stage, possibly anticipating the risky event before it occurs. The feature includes an Intention Recognition System, a Fraud Attempt Analysis, an Identity Spoofing Recognition, a Spy-Out Detection, a Feign Facts Identification, and a Targeted Attack Detection; all of those forensic agents use machine-learning to improve their overall efficiency and detection capabilities in real-time.
- URL malware control. File attachments are not the only threat that can pester an e-mail message: malicious URLs are another huge risk since they can push our users into filling fake forms, putting their credentials on phishing websites, and so on. 365 Total Protection can minimize such threats by checking and securing all URL addresses contained in our incoming e-mail messages using the Hornetsecurity web filter.
- Real-time reports. An advanced reporting dashboard that can be used by IT administrators to have a complete overview of the organization's security posture. The dashboard can be used to download reports, as well as generate charts, statistics, and so on.
- E-Mail Business Continuity. This service enforces a Business Continuity for our e-mail messages by allowing our users to access them even in the unlikely case the Microsoft Exchange Online service is down or temporarily unavailable.
The Enterprise Backup plan includes all the features offered by the Enterprise plan, plus the following ones:
- Automated Backups. As you might already know, Microsoft 365 - as a part of their shared responsibility model - doesn't offer a built-in backup option for their services. For that very reason, it's important to provide our company with an alternate way to secure our data. 365 Total Protection allows to do that thanks to this feature, which makes it easy to set up and manage recurring backup jobs. The backup can be configured to include User's Mailboxes (including incoming e-mail, local folders, calendars, contacts, etc), Group Mailboxes, MS Teams chats, OneDrive files & folders, and SharePoint document libraries.
- Recovery. This feature allows to quickly recover deleted accounts, mailboxes, SharePoint websites, MS Teams channels, messages & chats, and so on.
- Windows Backup and Restore. This feature allows restoring all files and folders from a Windows-based workstation, desktop, or laptop physical or virtual machine back to their original machine or to an endpoint management server.
- Audit. An advanced auditing feature that can be used by IT Security Administrators to review most user actions against Microsoft 365 services, including mailboxes usage, backups performed/restored, enabled and disabled features, accesses performed, browsing activities, and so on. Audit reports can also be exported, thus allowing IT administrators to use them as forensic proofs.
The three available plans have the following prices:
- Business: € 2.00 per Microsoft 365 user/month, excluding taxes (VAT)
- Enterprise: € 4.00 per Microsoft 365 user and per month excluding taxes (VAT)
- Enterprise Backup: € 6.00 per Microsoft 365 user and per month excluding taxes (VAT)
A Free Trial can also be requested from the Hornetsecurity official website by filling out a dedicated form.
Video Tutorial & Guides
If you want to know more about 365 Total Protection, as well as other security-related topics, you might want to check out the Hornetsecurity official YouTube channel, where you will find several informative videos and video tutorials about information security, data security, E-Mail security, and the likes.
365 Total Protection is a collection of useful features that can greatly help any organization working with Microsoft 365 to increase their overall IT security posture. The available plans might seem expensive, but IT security cannot be cheap - especially if you really want to protect your data from any kind of data breach. All in all, Hornetsecurity's 365 Total Protection solution is a comprehensive, high-level solution that provides an unbeatable against online threats of any kind: for that very reason, we highly recommend it for any company that wants to seriously tackle the IT Security standards required by the present day.