How to combat Phishing Scams using Office 365

Today, Microsoft is among the undisputed leaders in providing business productivity solutions. Its growing commitment to helping subscribers maximize cybersecurity is pivotal to its global dominance and reputation.

To help fight phishing, Microsoft has included powerful features within Microsoft Office 365 that can keep users safe from online scams when using Outlook. Among them is Microsoft Defender and here’s how it can keep you safe from phishing scams:

Microsoft 365 for protection against Phishing Scams

Spam protection

Generic phishing campaigns mostly utilize emails that go out to a large pool of recipients, in the hopes that a random number of victims will eventually take the bait. Therefore, stopping spam dead in its tracks is a good starting point for protecting your company against a phishing attack.

The anti-spam technology within Microsoft 365 addresses the above issue by examining each email’s source and contents. For example, if an email is red flagged as one coming from an untrusted source with suspicious contents, then it is sent straight to your spam folder. Furthermore, this feature also monitors email activity of your company personnel to ensure that they are not responsible for sending any spam emails.

Phishing protection

Perhaps the most dangerous kind of phishing scams are those that come in the form of ‘important’ or ‘authoritative’ emails – i.e. messages from those you might know such as your bank, a coworker or even your boss.

Phishers are very good at impersonating someone you know, making it potentially difficult to judge if the email message is genuine. This is where Microsoft Defender leverages the power of machine learning to differentiate between messages sent to you by someone you know or those sent by a phisher.

Malware protection

Malware such as spyware and ransomware can easily spread through phishing emails. Spyware steals your personal data by taking screen shots of what you’re viewing on screen, copying clipboard items and recording keystrokes, among other things.

Ransomware locks out data from the programs you use regularly and then the instigator will ask for a ransom to unlock that data. To say the least, things can get pretty messy pretty quickly!

Defender is capable of protecting users against both known and unknown malware types – which cover the various stages of email communication, including filtering out any harmful attachments and responding to real-time threats.

Keep links safe

Not every phishing email will contain attachments as many contain URLs that take you to websites which look fairly legitimate at first, but are actually spoofed versions of their real counterparts. Users often end up entering personal information which can then be used to steal data. Some of these ‘fake’ URLs even upload information to your computer to infect it with malware.

Office 365’s Safe Links feature scans every link in your email messages for malicious behaviour. When a malicious link is discovered, Defender will alert you not to visit it. What’s fantastic about Safe Links is that it not only scans suspicious links from unknown sources but also from people within the organization who upload files to SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.

Keep attachments safe

Certain kinds of phishing emails have file attachments which can very easily infect your device with malware. It’s not exactly unheard of for users to eagerly click attachments, particularly when they are rushing between messages.

Defender remedies this problem by first collecting all attachments in a sandbox, which itself is contained in an isolated environment. Then, each attachment is thoroughly scanned and those that are clean, are automatically okay’d by Microsoft 365 so you can continue working safely.

Improved filtering

Many companies use 3rd party services to send emails before they are sent to Microsoft 365. The Enhanced Filtering for Connectors option comes handy in this case as it allows you to determine how credible and trustworthy an email source is.

Enhanced Filtering also preserves the underlying email authentication signals which may otherwise have been lost due to routing emails – further helping Microsoft 365 detect and protect you from spam and phishing.

Get in touch with to discuss managed IT support services that can help you maximize the effectiveness of Microsoft 365 for complete protection from all kinds of phishing and spam attacks.

More Reading: Microsoft 365 Secure by Default

If you are in doubt if your business is protected, we can work with you to review your IT Security status and requirements.

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