Exploring Office 365 Phishing Protection Updates

This post will help users understand the basics of phishing, how to prevent it in your organization, and what measures Microsoft has taken to protect you from such threats.

Office 365 is a digital online suite provided by Microsoft that consists of all the paraphernalia required to increase productivity at work. However, similar to any other piece of software, it has its cons. Since this software program is used by major IT giants for data manipulation and handling, control measures must be put in place to intercept data malpractices such as breach of data, or fraudulent use of user-sensitive data. These practices, often termed as phishing attacks, easily bypass traditional antivirus software available in the market.

As a countermeasure against these attacks, Microsoft Office 365 provides regular updates to prevent such incidents. However, the system administrators must have an eye for detail regarding their usage. The majority of internet users with email accounts have received scam emails in the past. These emails come in all shapes and sizes, but the ultimate goal of the attacker is to defraud unsuspecting users. Another target of these cybercriminals is to hack your username and password to get access to your sensitive information.

Microsoft Office 365 Important Phishing Protection Features

Organizations use advanced protection methods to safeguard their systems and protect the organization from these cyber-attacks, which are ever-present in this digital transformation era. One of such measures is the deployment of Cyber Security Cells. Scammers are continually developing new techniques to intrude into people’s data for malicious purposes. Thus, Microsoft continuously improves Office 365 to keep its users safe from falling prey to such fraudsters.

When setting-up the anti-phishing options in Microsoft Office 365, the system administrators are free to choose from various available options so that they can ensure comprehensive phishing protection. Some of these improvised features of Microsoft Office 365 are listed below:

Spoofing and Impersonation Protection

A common spoofing technique involves sending emails to office employees, persuading them to open attachments, and send funds through websites. Administrators can easily detect such malpractices with the help of the advanced threat protection features of office 365. Cyber-attackers impersonating employees can also be tracked and blocked.

Malicious Content and Protection

Earlier versions of this software package provided the ability to scan email attachments before they were sent to another user’s inbox. Scanning of attachments enabled the admins to block malicious data which posed threats to the users of any organization. In addition to these advanced features, Microsoft has now enabled the denotation of texts which could tempt the user to follow a link leading to vindictive content.

The advanced threat protection feature of Microsoft Office 365 is used to scan through and filter the emails based on their content before delivering them to the end receiver.

Protection Against Fake Websites for Data Breach

Cyber-attackers use these trusted websites through fake user credentials to initiate malware implants. Users fall prey to such practices thinking content available on such internal sites are safe to use. This is precisely the situation where the system administrators can play their role in safeguarding their organization against phishing attacks. They can set default connotations on such websites to trace the presence of an attempt of any cyber-attacks on the enterprise’s network.


The Inbuilt Mailbox Intelligence

Office 365 has inbuilt Mailbox intelligence that allows anti-phishing protection at a user level as it is quite strategically built around the emails and monitors all the incoming and outgoing emails in the inbox.

Assessments to Keep Unguarded Phishing Attacks in Check

Apart from preventing phishing attacks, it is also essential to inform the users of such practices. ‘KnowBe4’ is a product that ensures security awareness of the end-users. They regularly send test phishing emails to the users to keep a check on the users who can fall prey to such traps.

A personalized version of a simulator has also been designed and re-enforced with Office 365 which can help the administrators send test phishing emails. Such events can help with the easy identification of users who require more guidance to be able to recognize such malicious emails. This new feature is significant for any organization to make its users aware of phishing attacks.

You can set up the controls in Microsoft Office 365 protection through the following steps:

  • Security and Compliance Management.
  • Admin Centre
  • Threat Management > Policy.

The controls can be set up in three different options:

  1. ATP Anti-phishing – Detects when someone impersonates your user and domains.
  2. ATP secure attachments – Checks for malicious attachments and then protects your organization from them.
  3. ATP Links –Provides protection verifying whether or not a URL or Office document is safe to click.


The Final Word

If the sensitive personal or financial information of an individual or of an organization falls in the wrong hands, that can be used against them in a social engineering attack such as phishing or can result in a compromise of computer systems or bank accounts causing damage to the reputation or financial losses.

After your setup policies, you are protected from advanced features of the Advance Protection Policies of Microsoft Office 365. Although Office 365 has advanced features which provide phishing protection, it is necessary to set up the Anti-Phishing controls for Advanced Threat Protection.

You need to be a Microsoft Office 365 global administrator to carry out actions to set up controls in the Office 365 Suite. You need to assign the policies– having the license alone is not sufficient. In addition to this, you must be more vigilant and know the basics of web activity that occurs while surfing the web, to safeguard your system and data.

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