UNH Email Gateway Combats Spam and Viruses

February 7, 2017

by UNH IT Staff

On April 15th, 2016 UNH upgraded the email gateway system to Proofpoint, a cloud-based system. This upgrade was needed to combat the ever-rising fight against spam, malware, and phishing, and has resulted in a much safer email delivery for UNH faculty and staff.

The new email gateway includes technologies absent in the previous email system including web address (or URL) rewriting that blocks links leading to malicious websites, and automated response to threats detected by the system. The result is a 91% increase in the catch rate for both spam, malicious, and phishing messages over the previous system.

Figure 1 shows the approximate number of messages processed from April 2016 through December 2016.

Figure 1: Messages processed (April - Dec. 2016) – approximately 94 million

UNH has seen a dramatic increase in mail volume over the past three quarters.











As email volume has increased, the number of threats from both spam and viruses has grown exponentially, as shown in figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2: Spam Volume – approximately 42 million

The irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent through email to a large number of recipients (SPAM) is constantly increasing. Phishing attempts are included in this category.












Figure 3: Viruses detection: Number of unique viruses detected and prevented since inception – 10,091,433 viruses in roughly 3 million messages.

In addition to the increased volume of SPAM there has also been an increase in viruses in the shape of software that can corrupt an individual’s devices or capture University data.











Figure 4 shows the effectiveness of Proofpoint, as it blocks malicious email attachments and embedded URLs/web addresses.

Figure 4: Number of Threats Blocked by Proofpoint

Threats come through attachments and embedded URLs.

Proofpoint has proven to be 98.5% effective in blocking threats to UNH. The remaining threats have been specifically targeted to UNH, spoofing webpages, emails, etc. The product is self-healing; once a targeted threat is detected it prevents further distribution. In a recent threat, Proofpoint detected the targeted threat in 8 minutes and automatically prevented the distribution to more than 3,000 recipients.

Overall, Proofpoint has significantly reduced the University’s risk associated with data loss, compromised machines, and credentials. It has also reduced the time to remediate issues which have allowed us to deploy resources to strategic initiatives.

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