Phishing remains the go-to attack method for cybercriminals to infect individuals’ computers. According to one source, an estimated 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent every day with most attacks occurring via email. Cybercriminals carefully conceal malware or spam with innocent-looking links that, when opened, access private or sensitive information and exploit it.
Used by more than 60 million commercial users, Office 365 is one of the most widely used software platforms in the world. However, despite being a trusted brand name, the software is still susceptible to phishing attacks.
Below we’ll review the phishing protections Microsoft has in place to prevent phishing attacks as well as best practices to follow to keep your Office 365 data secure.
What is Phishing?
The first step to safeguarding your Office 365 data is understanding what phishing is and the common methods hackers use to enter your system.
Essentially, Office 365 is a cyberattack that relies on email communication to trick users into giving personal information (such as passwords or credit card numbers) or following malicious links. Phishing attacks can result in identity theft, damage to reputation, fraud, loss in revenue, and more. Office 365 users are especially susceptible to phishing attacks due to the large volume of users. Because the suite is essential to numerous businesses around the world, scammers have a higher chance of success in obtaining and exploiting company secrets.
Some of the most common Office 365 phishing email examples include:
PhishPoint: This method uses a legitimate file to get through system defenses and hides malicious links or files in collaboration tools like SharePoint.
Non-delivery emails: Scammers use ‘non-delivery emails’ to trick users into sending an email again. When users hit the ‘send again’ link, malware is released into the system.
Storage limitation alerts: Users will receive a ‘storage limit reached’ notification with a link to ‘fix’ the problem.
Reactivation requests: Cybercriminals will send users a ‘reactivate your account’ request with a link to a fake login page. When users fill out the reactivation request, scammers have access to their personal information which they’ll use in future attacks.
These are just some of the methods cybercriminals will use to access Office 365 data or personal information.
Luckily, Microsoft has built-in phishing protections to help safeguard data.
Office 365 Phishing Protection Policies
As we stated before, Microsoft has numerous anti-phishing policies available to keep unauthorized users from accessing company information. Jamye Few, Senior Cloud Architect at JourneyTEAM said: “Many M365 customers don’t fully understand the modern security toolset they have at their fingertips in the Microsoft cloud platform or that it can replace most, if not all, the third-party tools they are using.” He went on to say that "by consolidating security tools and fully leveraging the platform’s security features, this will enable organizations to better monitor and respond to security threats.
Microsoft automatically applies a default anti-phishing policy to all email recipients. These can then be customized to specific domains, groups, or users within your organization. Configurations can be made in either Exchange Online PowerShell or the Microsoft 365 Defender portal.
For example, security administrators can configure policies for more comprehensive protection by specifying:
Which users/domains should be protected
Which senders and domains are considered trusted
Which actions should be taken against phishing attempts (i.e quarantining or redirecting messages, moving to the junk folder, delivering messages to security admins, or taking not action)
Whether or not mailbox intelligence should be on
Advanced phishing thresholds (determining what should happen on phishing emails that are aggressive, more aggressive, and most aggressive)
You’ll want to ensure your anti-phishing policies are configured to your unique environment for optimum protection.
Best Practices for Office 365 Phishing Protection
Even with built-in phishing protection in place, there are additional practices you can follow to keep scammers out of your system.
Enable two-factor authentication: This practice ensures that only authorized users are able to access company accounts or tools by verifying their identity. The extra layer of security makes it harder for cybercriminals to access sensitive data.
Be wary of unsolicited emails: Regardless of where emails come from, make sure your users are wary of unsolicited emails–even if they look like they came from trusted sources. Encourage users to report suspicious or random emails to your IT department.
Update software: Regular updates ensure your anti-virus software is up-to-date against the latest security attacks and patch any security vulnerabilities.
Stop Phishing Accounts before they Happen with JourneyTEAM
Utilizing Microsoft’s anti-phishing policies and following best practices is a solid first step to safeguarding your environment. However, with cybercrime on the rise and scammers only getting smarter, it’s time to add an extra layer of protection.
That’s where JourneyTEAM comes in.
Our team of experts will thoroughly examine your current technology stack to determine what anti-phishing policies (and other security practices) should be put in place to provide comprehensive protection.
Learn more about our various security assessments, including Office 365, here.
Don’t wait for a phishing attack to occur before taking steps to protect your environment. Contact JourneyTEAM now to build an impenetrable email platform.