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What is Proofpoint and How Does it Work?

By Elliot Anderson  |  April 28, 2024

Proofpoint is a cybersecurity platform that protects workers and data from cybercriminals that target email, social media, and mobile devices. It provides enterprise-level cloud-based solutions against phishing, social engineering, and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. 

 Proofpoint Email Protection is the flagship product, protecting user inboxes from phishing scams, imposter emails, and advanced cybersecurity threats by analyzing incoming messages using highly refined AI-enabled filters. 

Why do security leaders choose Proofpoint? 

94% of public data breaches begin through email. Without a strong email security solution in place, organizations are highly vulnerable to sophisticated threat actors who can impersonate co-workers and trusted third-party contacts. 

Proofpoint helps reduce the risks associated with email phishing, credential-based attacks, email account compromise, and malware. Since email is one of the most popular vectors for gaining initial access to target networks, excellent email security can make a significant difference in an organization’s overall security posture. 

 Proofpoint’s email security and protection platform actively blocks malware, spyware, and trojan horse attacks. It helps organizations reduce the risk of email fraud and provides security leaders with visibility into email-related compliance and policy risks. 

How does Proofpoint improve email security? 

 Proofpoint uses multi-layered threat detection to stop email threats from arriving in the inbox altogether. This reduces the need to train employees how to distinguish between phishing emails and legitimate messages. 

 Here are some of the technologies and features included in each layer of security Proofpoint includes in its email defense solutions: 

  • Email encryption and archiving prevents threat actors from intercepting emails sent across the public internet. Email archiving provides secure storage for messages that may contain sensitive data. 
  • Signature-based detection filters incoming email messages based on their content. Emails that contain known threats — or content associated with known threats — are automatically blocked and reported. 
  • Dynamic reputation analysis looks for information about the email server that sent the incoming message. Proofpoint continuously assesses local and global IP addresses to look for signs of malicious behavior, and blocks servers that show signs of compromise. 
  • Sender reputation analysis leverages AI  scans hundreds of thousands of email attributes and determine whether the sender is genuine or not. This analysis takes the relationship between the sender and recipient into consideration, along with the content of the message itself. 
  • Anti-spoofing capabilities. Proofpoint uses Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC). This is an email security protocol that prevents hackers from spoofing domains and impersonating employees. 
  • Data loss prevention (DLP). Proofpoint can scan outgoing email messages for sensitive information, and trigger alerts when employees leak potentially valuable information. This provides valuable data for the organization’s Security Operations Center (SOC), who can respond to data exfiltration threats in real-time. 
  • Identity protection. If threat actors compromise an employee’s email account, they can quickly take control of that user’s digital identity. Proofpoint monitors employees’ routine email behaviors and triggers alerts when individuals deviate from the established baseline. 
  • Targeted Attack Protection. This technology prevents malware threats from arriving in users’ inboxes by removing malware attachments and sanitizing URL links. It can also detect risks and threats within cloud-based applications. 

How does Proofpoint work in practice? 

Proofpoint’s email security solutions are designed to offer an optimal balance between security and usability. Its products are cloud-native and compatible with a wide combination of technologies, enabling organizations to maintain granular control over risks associated with advanced email threats. 

 Since many of Proofpoint’s email security technologies prevent spam, unwanted emails, and malicious attachments from arriving in the inbox altogether, end-users experience minimal friction when using the solution—if they notice it at all. 

 Proofpoint provides security leaders and IT administrators with multiple tools and reports for improving operational and cloud security throughout the organization. Here are a few examples: 

1. Dynamic risk scoring 

Proofpoint scores threats from a scale from one to 1,000 based on the following factors: threat actor sophistication, spread and focus of attack targeting, type of attack and overall attack volume. These dynamic risk scores accompany incoming messages as they enter the network. 

The score helps companies to understand the risk for both the individual user and the overall risk for the company. Security leaders can filter and search for messages using these scores to understand which threats need to be prioritized first. 

2. Custom rules and configurable controls 

Email classification using Proofpoint can be done in many languages. Emails will be divided in specific quarantine categories based on potential threat: spam, phishing, imposter email, malware, bulk email, and adult content. 

The analysis function will identify graymail and mark those emails at a lower priority to limit inbox clutter. Users can “promote” emails to a higher priority or move emails to a lower priority. 

Companies can customize the rules of what is considered “acceptable use” while using Proofpoint to better align with their specific needs. 

3. Deep visibility and message tracing 

Proofpoint has an advanced message tracing features a high-performance search engine which allows users to pinpoint hard-to-find log data. 

Security leaders have access to sixty different real-time reports detailing mail flow and security trends. This allows organizations to be proactive when addressing any potential issues and trends as they are identified.  

Users have the ability to create “safe” and block lists of email senders as well. This allows security leaders to proactively reduce the organization’s attack surface while keeping trusted contacts accessible. 

4. Opportunities to reduce your attack surface 

Proofpoint delivers intelligence about your organization’s high-impact targets — which it calls Very Attacked People (VAPs). The platform will inform security teams where sensitive information is potentially being exposed across email and the cloud. Companies will have the ability to lock down access to specific files in the cloud, prevent data loss and archive communications. 

 Proofpoint offers security awareness training that helps users prepare for what a potential threat might look like. The training alerts users to the most recent phishing attacks and lures through their “Attack Spotlight Series”. Training materials are interactive and game-based, keeping users engaged while providing valuable insight into modern email threats. 

Improve email security resilience with Lumifi 

Keep hackers and cybercriminals out of your organization’s inbox and prevent them from spoofing your email domain name to launch attacks on others. Proofpoint is a vital part of your overall security tech stack, but it is not the only tool that matters. 

Lumifi can help you detect and respond to threats in real-time, providing 24/7 monitoring and response that integrates email security, endpoint security, and comprehensive security log management into a single, unified service. Find out how Lumifi ShieldVision™ provides unlimited visibility and deep context into security events on your network in near real-time. 

By Elliot Anderson

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