GFI MailEssentials Online Reviewed

GFI MailEssentials Online Reviewed

Introduction

GFI MailEssentials Complete Online (MEO) is a cloud-based anti-spam, anti-malware, and anti-phishing service that provides outsourced services for messaging hygiene, as well as additional capabilities. Email admins can add MEO to an existing messaging infrastructure without significant changes or costs, and pay for the service as an annual per-user subscription.

Requirements and Setup

MEO is designed to make implementation quick and easy. Once you have set up an account on the service, you need to perform four additional steps:

1. Provision your users in the system

2. Configure where the service should deliver clean mail

3. Create MX records for your domain(s) that point to the service

4. Optionally, configure your email system to route outbound mail through the service.

 

With the ability to import users or sync via LDAP or SQL, you can be up and running in a matter of minutes – this is not a service that takes many hours or days to set up. S

Sending your outbound email through an anti-spam service may seem strange, but there are several advantages to doing this. In addition to screening your outbound messages for malware or anything that might look like spam, there are additional benefits we’ll go over below.

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For ease of setup, we give this a score of 5/5.

Out of the box configuration

Once mail is flowing through the system, your users are protected from malware, and to a lesser extent, spam. By one configuration, all messages detected as spam will continue to be delivered to users, though the subject line will be prepended with SPAM. You will probably want to change that default to “Redirected to the recipient’s junk mail quarantine” but this lets you get a feel for what MEO will do without actually changing the mail flow to start.

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You can also adjust the aggressiveness of the filtering, and choose whether or not to use greylisting, which can reply to unrecognized servers with a deferral message. With greylisting enabled, legitimate mail servers will receive the initial deferral and then retry the message delivery, while most spam systems will simply receive the deferral message and give up.

You can also implement scheduled summary messages (“digests”), which will notify each user of all messages sent to them which were blocked as spam, and enable them to release any false positive messages without having to open a helpdesk ticket, contact an administrator, or even access the control panel.

As an anti-spam service, we’d expect it to quarantine spam by default rather than flag and forward it, so we give this a 4/5.

Management Interface

As you can see from the screen shots above, the management interface is clean and well designed, with an easy-to-follow logic and tab-based approach. The interface works well on practically any browser and operating system we tested, except for mobile devices.

As heavy iPhone users, we’d give higher marks to any service that we can use with our mobile devices, but it’s hard to find fault with such a clean and intuitive setup. 4/5.

Customization

Every customer will want to be able to customize the service, and MEO offers several options to tailor the service to better suit your needs. Whitelists and blacklists can be created based on FROM Address, TO Address, subject and source IP, you can block or allow based on character sets and attachment types, and also completely block things like egregious spam, viruses, and NDRs.

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One thing we found missing was keywords. The service lets you white/blacklist by subject, but not by words in the body. It might be nit-picking, but we missed that option. Still, with all the options available, this still earns 4/5.

Performance and Accuracy

MEO performs exceptionally well, with a high degree of accuracy. During our trial we saw no spam get through the filters, and no appreciable delay in either inbound or outbound message flow. With only a couple of false positives, which were easily released, we have to give MEO 5/5 here.

Extras

We mentioned additional benefits above, and here’s what we were talking about. With all your inbound and outbound mail flowing through MEO, you can enable optional archiving to keep a record of all your email. Archiving is becoming a requirement for more and more companies, and being able to deploy it without any additional hardware or software is a great value-add. But that’s not all.

MEO allows users to log in to the portal to check for, and release, their own quarantined messages. Instead of opening countless helpdesk tickets, they can take care of themselves.

Perhaps most importantly, the service includes built-in “email continuity”. This means that any time your mail server is off-line, for maintenance or any other reason, users can simply log on to the MEO console and can use the service to send and receive emails while the production mail system is down. Given how much organizations depend on email these days, this is a very valuable feature.

With all this extra capability, we give this 5/5.

Conclusion

GFI MailEssentials Complete Online is a great service for email hygiene with several valuable bonus features for customers. The ease with which it can be implemented, its effectiveness, and its accuracy make for a very powerful protection for your users. Averaging 4.5/5, we consider this a great product.