Email Privacy and Security in Office 365

Business Email Compromise (BEC) continues to be a major issue around the world. In Australia, the effects of BEC scams on those affected are severe, resulting in a financial loss of over $79 million annually.

In this modern era of advanced technology, email-based collaboration such as Office 365 is still as essential as other types of communication. It is vital to ensure the email your business relies on is secure at all times.

What is Business Email Compromise?

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a deceptive method utilised by cybercriminals to divert valid money transfers to other accounts. Typically, criminals will intercept valid emails or receipts from familiar trading partners and alter banking details to include false payment details. BEC ploys have had the potential to cause billions of dollars in losses for organisations. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, regaining BEC financial losses is not always feasible.

Office 365 email security

To boost protection for your company, there are multiple ways you can guarantee the confidentiality and safety of email in Office 365.

Multi-factor authentication

Enhancing security is easy and fast to accomplish by implementing multi-factor authentication. For accessing Microsoft Office 365, users must also add a code sent to their email or phones to obstruct cybercriminals from infiltrating their accounts. This system prevents practically all attempts to hack into email accounts.

Keep admin accounts separate

Admin accounts in an Office 365 environment are granted high-level privileges, thus making them a target for hackers. An effective way to prevent this is to have admins use separate accounts for work and admin. Using Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) can assign access rights accordingly.

Office 365 email encryption

Microsoft 365 includes a tool called Office 365 Message Encryption which allows for emails to be sent and received securely. Only the people the email is intended for will be able to read the contents, as encryption technology prevents anyone else from viewing the message.

Protect against malware and viruses

Microsoft Defender for Office 365 functions as an email filtering system that offers security against specific dangers, such as malware and viruses. It includes a function titled Safe Attachments, which provides a higher level of security from zero-day threats and unknown malware and viruses. Every message and attachment that does not have an identified virus/malware signature is directed to a distinctive hypervisor atmosphere, in which a behaviour examination is conducted using a range of machine learning and analysis techniques to recognise malicious intent. If no dubious activity is discovered, the message is allowed to be delivered to the mailbox.

Protect against phishing attacks

Phishing is a type of email scam where malicious messages are sent to unsuspecting recipients in an attempt to acquire sensitive information that is believed to be from credible sources. Phishing attacks are one of the most common forms of cyber-attack threatening businesses today. While security awareness training can help employees to avoid being duped by phishing emails and scams, both Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and Microsoft Defender for Office 365 have anti-phishing policies and other features that can add an extra layer of protection.

Employee security awareness

One of the most important factors contributing to cybersecurity breaches today is human error. Employees are usually unaware of how they are the weakest link in your business cybersecurity, or they will overlook security protocols for convenience. It is therefore vital to ensure your employees are always kept up to date with the latest social engineering scams and best practices for cybersecurity. Microsoft Defender for Office 365 includes attack simulation training, whereby admins can create fake phishing messages and send them to users as an educational tool.

External message warning

To further ensure employees don’t accidentally click on malicious links sent to them via external sources, it is possible to prevent that by adding an external email warning or tagging external emails. This can be done by enabling the external email tag in Exchange Online, which adds a built-in warning between the subject and body of the email when the email is sent from outside your organisation.

User alert policies

In both the Microsoft Compliance Center and the Microsoft Defender portal, alert policies can be created to monitor user activities and security threats, such as phishing, unusual external user activity, suspicious file or folder deletions, and more. Alert policies can be created to define when an alert should be triggered and who should be notified.

Office 365 email security with the Microsoft experts

Your business data and email security is of paramount importance and often require continual vigilance. Don’t go it alone, the Microsoft partners at Essential Tech are experts at ensuring you get the most from your Microsoft 365 investment and keeping your mission-critical business data secure.

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