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Microsoft Office 365 is a great way for businesses to incorporate document creation and sharing within an organization without extensive development and installation. It runs in the cloud, and most people know how to use it. Most software integrates easily with Office 365, so it’s an application that business owners can manage without much overhead. The application is good for small, midsize, and large enterprise.

Office 365 is a common application, and it’s also a popular application for targeted attacks. Phishing authors aggressively target any organization that uses Office 365 and the document creation tools that come with it. Microsoft Office 365 has Defender, a cybersecurity tool used to stop malware and phishing, but most security researchers agree that corporations need additional protection for Office 365 to stop phishing emails.

What Types of Phishing Targets Office 365?

With Office 365 targets, attackers might craft phishing emails that play on one of the document creation products. For example, a phishing email might have a Word document as an attachment and ask the user to open it. The document then has a malicious macro that can install ransomware or run malware on the local machine.

Types of phishing that target Office 365 range from simple spray strategies to more sophisticated spear phishing. Attackers use spray strategies to target as many people as possible in the hopes that at least a small percentage of people will fall victim to it. With just a small percentage, an attacker could steal enough data to sell on darknet markets or use it for their own nefarious purposes.

Spear phishing is a much more sophisticated method. Attackers spend much more time researching the company, the people who work for the company, and the way the company functions. Reconnaissance could take weeks for a sophisticated spear-phishing attacks, but it’s a highly effective strategy. Most spear-phishing attacks target only key people within the organization, mainly people with high-level privileges with access to critical data. HR people, executives, financial employees, and IT professionals are common targets for spear phishing.

With the list of high-privilege users, an attacker then sends phishing email messages to the select few. Usually, the phishing email tricks users into divulging their credentials or tricks them into installing malware. Ransomware is also common, which is an equally devastating way for attackers to steal and destroy data.

Whaling is another form of phishing. It’s similar to spear phishing, but whaling targets only executives, owners, and cofounders. Research is also required with whaling, so it could take weeks for reconnaissance. Whaling is also considered a sophisticated attack, but it requires much more nuance to be successful. It only takes one successful phishing email for an attacker to gain access to sensitive data or earn a large sum of money.

Did You Know?


cyber attacks begin with phishing

10 minutes

to seamlessly install PhishTitan

$10.5 trillion

estimated global cybercrime cost

295 days

to stop & spot a phishing attack

Social Engineering is Also a Risk with Office 365

Many of today’s application integrate with Office 365, so attackers can use social engineering to cause a data breach. Usually, social engineering is combined with phishing in more sophisticated attacks. When attackers combine both methods, it can lead to stolen funds or installed malware on the environment.

Social engineering is common when attackers target organizations to send money for fraudulent reasons. For example, an attacker might convince an employee in the finance department to send money urgently or pay a fraudulent invoice. The start of the social engineering attack might start with a phishing email, but the final phase is to use social engineering to encourage the targeted victim to send money.

Even without phishing, social engineering can be targeted and well designed so that professionals don’t know that they are being scammed until it’s too late. Employees should be trained to detect social engineering attacks and block them before it goes too far. Users with extensive high-level privileges are especially at risk, so they should always have the right cybersecurity training to help them stop attacks and report them for further review.

Spam Filters to Stop Resource Usage

No one likes spam, but it doesn’t stop spam creators to continue to send messages to millions of recipients a day. Spam might seem harmless, but it too can contain malicious attachments. Aside from spam containing malicious attachments and messages, spam also unnecessarily takes up network resources. This costs businesses money and wastes budgets unnecessarily.

Even though cloud storage is much cheaper than storing Microsoft Exchange messages on-premises, storing spam can become costly. With enough employees, a targeted organization could waste budget money storing terabytes of spam messages. Also, since most companies have backups and archives of email messages, additional money is wasted when spam is included in backups and data retention.

In addition to spam exhausting budgets, it’s simply an annoyance for users. Users appreciate spam filters on their personal email accounts, so they will appreciate nuisance messages being blocked in their corporate job as well. Too much spam interferes with user productivity, and it can cause employees to miss important messages if too much spam can pass to their inbox.

A better way of dealing with phishing and spam is to use artificial intelligence and threat hunting together to block common threats, but newer ones as well.

How TitanHQ Can Help?

Microsoft Defender does a good job of blocking some threats. It’s a good tool to install on an Office 365 environment, but it does not handle sophisticated attacks. Because Microsoft Defender is built to handle email security for the largest audience possible, it often misses targeted attacks designed to target insider threats and employees untrained to detect malicious messages. Most security professionals agree that organizations need additional cybersecurity on their Microsoft Exchange server storing email messages.

Older phishing and spam filtering technology based their strategies on blocking specific email servers, domains, or IP addresses. Attackers constantly changed their IP address and cycled through domains so that older filters couldn’t keep up. The result led to consistent bypasses and corporations dealing with phishing and spam messages every day.

A better way of dealing with phishing and spam is to use artificial intelligence and threat hunting together to block common threats, but newer ones as well. PhishTitan uses both these technologies to block phishing more effectively on Office 365 integrations. Most other solutions don’t use either of these technologies, or they use one without the other.

Threat intelligence isn’t new, but it’s often overlooked in most cybersecurity strategies. It’s a form of research where security professionals analyze data from numerous places around the web and darknet markets to identify emerging threats. New threats found during a hunt are fed into threat intelligence analytics where researchers can provide insight to organizations. In this case, threat intelligence is fed to the PhishTitan algorithms where the system can effectively block messages using zero-day strategies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) works with threat hunting data to avoid false positives or false negatives. The more data fed into AI algorithms provide better results. PhishTitan uses artificial intelligence with numerous data points to ensure accuracy. It has a low false positive rate, and it’s considered one of the most accurate tools for administrators to implement to stop phishing and other nuisance email-based attacks.

With PhishTitan, organizations can greatly reduce risks from phishing, malware, ransomware, business email compromise (BEC), CEO fraud, social engineering, and numerous other threats that take advantage of insider threats. Users will also be much more productive, because they no longer need to delete and report messages targeting the organization.

Susan Morrow Bio

Susan Morrow Bio


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