Richard Price 29 December 2015 10:21:09 AEDT 4 MIN READ

How to Strengthen Your Office 365 Security Against Spam and Malware

If you’ve made the move to Office 365 as your hosted email solution, your email is likely to be filtered using its Exchange Online Protection (EOP), which works to intercept and remove malicious content before it reaches your inbox.

Although the Office 365 spam filter offers a good level of security, some businesses have found that it needs strengthening against highly-sophisticated cyber threats, in order to better protect their data and systems. 

Here’s how you can strengthen your Office 365 security so you can continue to enjoy its wealth of features and benefits.

Train staff to be aware of sophisticated attacks

In addition to employing software to block threats which bypass the Office 365 spam filter, it’s important that you educate staff on how to effectively spot unsolicited and dangerous email.

It’s estimated that one in five people will click on a URL in a phishing message – by training staff to be aware of advanced social engineering techniques used by cyber criminals, you can reduce this likelihood.

For example, staff should be aware of emails sent from seemingly-reputable organisations that aren’t addressed to them by name, or include poor spelling and grammar.

Emails containing links or executable files from companies you weren’t expecting to hear from should also be ignored, as they could be scams which lead to malware being downloaded, or personal details being handed over to cybercriminals.

Please be sure to share tips for avoiding these types of scams with staff at your organisation.

Add a premium cloud email spam filter

The sheer volume of new spam and malware variants developed daily is a challenge for businesses employing the Office 365 spam filter. The spam released today is different to what was blocked yesterday, requiring a zero-day (0-day) response.

A whitepaper by Osterman identifies that Microsoft’s EOP can detect 100% of all known viruses with updates every 15 minutes – however, its less effective against unknown, zero-day malware which is delivered by email.

New Call-to-action Zero-day attacks can include highly-sophisticated crypto malware campaigns used to encrypt your business’ files and restrict access to them, in return for a costly ransom payment.

They can also include phishing campaigns which try to fool staff into surrendering sensitive information like account details, usernames and passwords.

Superior third-party cloud email filtering providers use highly analytical, predictive techniques to block new varieties of spam before they reach your mailbox making them highly pre-emptive and preventative.

For example, a recent malware outbreak MailGuard blocked showed that 98% of antivirus engines that the file was scanned against were not detecting it as malicious at the time.

By using 1000s of real-time spam checks and intuitive blocking rules, combined with a dedicated, fast-acting support team, you can reduce the time taken to respond to new threats considerably. 

By layering premium email filtering protection on top of your Office 365 solution, you can therefore ensure you’re protected against 99.997% of instances of spam and 100% of known viruses, including the best protection against 0-day or unknown malware variants.

While the various Office 365 features make it an effective hosted email platform, its Exchange Online Protection cannot fight the war against cyber threats on its own.

To ensure you are fully protected against all known and unknown threats, Office 365 should be combined with premium cloud email filtering, with a view to creating a multi-layered defence.

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