Interesting Technologies Combined in Proofpoint


Proofpoint claims to have the only email security appliance that both checks inbound mail for viruses and spam and encrypts or blocks sensitive outbound mail and mail attachments. Actually, the appliance, positioned on the network perimeter, peruses email and HTTP and FTP content.


That's an interesting combination of technologies, and Proofpoint 5.0 has other interesting features. It now supports VMware and can run as a virtual appliance. As Andres Kohn, Proofpoint VP of product management, pointed out, this helps Proofpoint customers (which tend to be midsized to large companies) keep costs down while deploying the appropriate number of appliances to handle ever-increasing volumes of spam.


Also interesting is how Proofpoint identifies sensitive data in messages. Kohn and Keith Crosley, Proofpoint director of market development, described two types of content and how each is handled. Structured content is pieces of private data such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, medical information, and combinations of those elements. Proofpoint can look for patterns in this structured content to identify sensitive pieces of information that customers might want to encrypt according to their policies. Unstructured content is documents such as strategic plans, organizational charts, and future press releases. Customers can put these sensitive files in certain folders and point Proofpoint to these locations. Proofpoint learns to recognize the documents and can later block them from leaving the network as emails or on FTP servers.


The Proofpoint UI has some interesting new Web 2.0-type features that Kohn and Crosley said administrators have started asking for. Based on Ajax, the interface lets administrators customize which reports and controls they see. They can also customize interfaces for different user roles, such as email administrators. And end users have new controls and Web-based quarantine.


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