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Chapter 1. Introduction to Email Securit... > Overview of Cisco IronPort Email Sec...

Overview of Cisco IronPort Email Security Appliance (ESA)

The Cisco IronPort Email Security Appliance (ESA) family was launched in 2003. IronPort Systems, then an independent security company, created ESA as a self-contained hardware and software product to provide high-performance email security. The goal was to provide a single product that accepted, filtered, and delivered Internet email messages, and to do so reliably and quickly. Initially, the ESA provided basic message features along with filtering for spam and virus messages, but subsequent releases have dramatically expanded the range of capabilities.

ESA was certainly not the first system that performed virus or spam filtering for email messages; Bulk Unsolicited Commercial Internet email (UCE, the technical term for spam email) has been around almost as long as Internet email itself. It was one of the first, however, to combine these features into a single product, and to do so on a purpose-built platform with extremely high performance. Prior to the introduction of messaging appliances, typical email architectures included multiple layers of filtering, either as separate products running in series or as filtering products that plugged in to messaging servers. These multilayer designs used either proprietary application programming interfaces (API) for moving message contents or used Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to deliver messages from one system to another. The all-in-one appliance form factor removes the layering complexity, lowering the cost of providing effective reliable email security. Messaging servers are freed from the role of email filtering, allowing resources to be used to serve end users.


  

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