Maintaining an in-house email system involves major appraisal of security risks and implications for the smooth running of any business. This can involve activity far beyond the task of installing and maintenance of Microsoft Exchange systems – it involves a major focus on the security required to ensure your Exchange Server stays up and running effectively. For a full and frank assessment, it is wise to discuss your individual situation with an expert IT security consultant – every business has different needs. However, here are a few hints and tips to help direct such a discussion, and focus on the key elements of email systems security.Mail ServerA mail server is a standard computer whose dedicated job is to distribute emails into and out of your company. Consider it rather like an electronic mailroom. As with a real mailroom, in small companies an existing PC can be used to manage mail. Larger companies require dedicated computer hardware to distribute and store emails.SpamSpam is unwanted email. It’s fairly harmless and generally just wastes your time and clogs up your system; although it can also cause offence. An integrated security system can, for example, use removal lists and sophisticated pattern-matching to weed out spam email and equally ensure wanted emails get through.VirusesViruses are more serious than spam. Viruses are malicious attacks on networks in general, or even your business in particular. The motive may be to disable your system, find out information about your business, theft, or simply malice. Either way, you need protection – and now’s the time to get it. Any business, even a sole trader, cannot afford to be without anti-virus protection in today’s corporate environment.Webmail and VPNsWebmail is the function whereby your staff can pick up their email on the move or from home. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are systems which allow information to be securely transferred online between branch offices or other physically removed locations over the internet. Email protection products allow you to set up such services so that whilst you are protected, your staff has no need to sacrifice remote working.Firewalls and Perimeter SecurityIgnoring the complexities, the logic of a good firewall is to prevent any rogue activities from getting into your computer systems by stopping them at the front door before they come anywhere near your own systems. A wise move is to configure a separate, dedicated security appliance as a first and major first line of defence between the wider internet and your mail server.About Security AppliancesYou have probably heard of anti-virus software- it sits on your computer and protects the system against software attacks. However, a security appliance takes such protection orders of magnitude further. With a security appliance, the protective software lives on its own piece of hardware. This has several benefits. For example, all your own equipment is freed up to run your business, dedicated machinery cannot itself be compromised – it is designed to do one job alone; maintenance costs are low, as problems are easier to diagnose, and a security appliance will take care of spam and viral threats, leaving you to get on with running your business. There are many proprietary names in this field, and any IT network consultant would be able to advise on procurements and costs.