How to achieve email privacy and security in Office 365

How to achieve email privacy and security in Office 365

Today’s cybercriminals leave nothing to chance before launching an attack, researching potential targets and ensuring a more successful result. Business email compromise (BEC) is an example of this methodical approach, and one of the more financially damaging cyber threats. Unfortunately, the fact that so much business is conducted via email is exploited by cybercriminals using BEC to target organizations.

For businesses that rely on Office 365 for email communication, the following can help you achieve email security and data privacy.

How cybercriminals carry out BEC scams

BEC scams essentially fool victims into giving data, credentials or even money to someone who is impersonating a legitimate account.

There are several ways threat actors undertake BEC scams

Spoofing: create an email address or website that is similar to a legitimate one (examplecompany.com vs. examplecompany.com). Victims may be fooled into thinking fake accounts are real by slight variations on legitimate addresses.

Spear phishing emails: these appear to be from trusted sources and trick victims into revealing sensitive information, which allows malicious actors to access business accounts and data.

Malware: this can infiltrate company networks and gain access to legitimate email threads about billing and invoices, then use that information to time requests or send messages. It can allow cybercriminals gain access to a victim’s data undetected, including passwords and financial information.

Email security and privacy in Office 365

To make Office 365 and your organization more secure, implement the following tips.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication is one of the simplest and most effective ways to maintain a high level of security in Office 365. For users to log into Microsoft Office 365, they need to enter a code sent to their mobile device as well as a password. This prevents threat actors from gaining unauthorized access even if they have the password. Microsoft states MFA will block almost all account compromise attacks.

Maintaining a strong level of protection is simple and quick to accomplish by utilizing multi factor authentication.

Separate admin accounts

Administration accounts have high-privilege access to Office 365, which can easily be exploited by malicious actors. It is always a good suggestion for admins to have separate accounts for their everyday work and only use their admin accounts for high-level tasks.

Ransomware protection

One of the most popular cyber threats used today, ransomware encrypts data so users can’t access it and then demands a ransom as payment for the decryption key. Implementing Microsoft 365 Defender with the Safe Attachments feature can block ransomware and keep your business emails secure.

Enhance malware protection

Office 365 offers malware protection, but you can further enhance security by blocking attachments that contain common malware files such as PDF and Office Documents.

External Email Tagging

Any external emails sent to business accounts are tagged accordingly so mail recipients are warned to be cautious about the contents and any attachments or links contained. 

Office 365 Message encryption

Microsoft 365 has Office 365 Message Encryption, which makes encrypted email communications possible. Your company can send and receive encrypted emails using this feature. It ensures only the intended recipients can read the message content.

Phishing attack protection

You may also configure targeted anti-phishing protection if you have configured custom domains for your Microsoft Office 365 environment. Anti-phishing solutions can help your organization avoid being victimized by a phishing attack. The URLs contained in email messages or other Office documents are protected by Safe Links for Office 365. This service monitors web pages for time-of-click verification.

Office 365 Safe Attachments

All file-sharing features offered by SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams are supported by Office 365 Safe Attachments protection. Office 365 Safe Attachments protection is not turned on by default.

Unified Audit Log

The Unified Audit Log tracks all activities that are performed in the Microsoft 365 admin center, regardless of whether they are performed by an application, user, domain or directory. This ensures any suspicious activity can be tracked.

Alert policy

Setting alert policies allows security teams to be made aware quickly of potential security breaches before they become problematic. An alert policy is a predefined set of rules that decides when an alert should be triggered, as well as a list of users who need to be notified in the event an alert is generated.

Employee security awareness

Human error is the leading cause of data breaches. Employees make mistakes or ignore security warnings, or intentionally sabotage security protocols. Ensuring company-wide security awareness training occurs regularly will go a long way to creating a security-first culture within your business and minimizing the risk of a cyber-attack.

Email security for your Office 365 email with the experts

Keep your business email secure from potential threats and partner with the cloud solutions experts at ION247, who can help you make the most of your Microsoft solutions and ensure the ongoing security of your business email.

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