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Enhance Email Security with Office 365 Spoofing Protection

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Enhance Email Security with Office 365 Spoofing Protection

Secure Office 365 against email spoofing and other social engineering attacks.

Cybercriminals know that organizations use Office 365 for many mission-critical tasks and processes. Spoofed Office 365 documents allow attackers to exploit victims' systems easily.

According to a 2022 report, 85% of organizations using Microsoft Office 365 report encountering phishing campaigns, and 40% suffer credential-based attacks. In addition, email spoofing is problematic because users often assume Microsoft's built-in security features protect them. 

While Microsoft offers users a wide range of useful security features, more is needed. Sophisticated attackers can still exploit emerging vulnerabilities faster than Microsoft's built-in systems can compensate for. On top of that, many Microsoft 365 deployments need to be configured for optimal security in the first place, which raises the threat level considerably.

 

What Email Security Features Come with Office 365?

Microsoft has a track record of aggressively acquiring cybersecurity startups to bolster its security initiatives. This strategy allows the tech giant to incorporate sophisticated security features into its productivity software. These built-in protections offer reliable security against known threats but cannot replace the value of a well-configured, standalone Office 365 security solution. Instead of being a comprehensive all-in-one security solution, Office 365 is better suited as a framework for building operational security solutions. 

Here are some of the email security features that come with Office 365:

1. Email Authentication with SPF, DKIM, and DMARC

Microsoft primarily relies on three email authentication technologies to verify incoming emails and identify phishing attacks:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF). This technology specifies servers that are allowed to send emails to your domain. It is enabled by default, with a policy that will flag – but not block – incoming emails that do not match the policy.
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). This technology adds a unique signature to outgoing emails. This signature follows the email even when forwarded through a relay server, allowing email recipients to identify spoofing attempts from DKIM users' domains. Office 365 supports DKIM but does not enable it by default.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC). This system tells recipient email servers what to do with emails when they fail SPF or DKIM verification. This is how email security specialists capture, analyze, and reject spoof emails. This feature is also supported in Office 365 but not enabled by default.

2.   Anti-Spoofing Policies

Office 365 has multiple anti-spoofing" policies that are enabled by default and cannot be disabled. These policies rely on SPF, DKIM, and DMARC technologies to identify spoofed emails and place them in the junk folder. 

While Microsoft allows users to enable and configure SPF, DKIM, and DMARC policies, it does not allow users to configure its anti-spoofing policies directly. Unfortunately, this means users can't understand how or why specific messages trigger spoofing alerts while others don't.

This would be fine if Microsoft Office 365 could reliably detect all spoof emails without fail. However, security solutions are imperfect. When spoofed emails bypass Microsoft's policies, security teams often need clear information about improving security performance.

3. Malware Detection Engine

It is not possible to detect malware by purely analyzing sender data. Therefore, office 365 does not rely on SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to detect malware but includes other detection solutions.

Microsoft Defender for Office 365 establishes a unique hypervisor environment for incoming messages and attachments that do not have a known malware signature. It then conducts behavioural analysis on the file to identify suspicious activity and releases it to the user's inbox only if it passes the test.

Similarly, Exchange Online Protection scans messages in transit, blocking malicious hyperlinks sent to users' inboxes. Microsoft does provide reporting and tracking capabilities, but many of its features are not open for user configuration.

 

Schedule a demo to learn how PhishTitan can help you protect your email and productivity solutions from sophisticated cyberattacks today.

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How Spoof Emails Still Bypass Office 365 Defenses

Despite incorporating many email spoofing protection technologies and policies, phishing emails remain in Microsoft 365. This happens because Office 365's security features do not protect users from spoofed emails. Furthermore, they are only a starting point for achieving operational security excellence.

Cybercriminals use various methods to bypass these protections—from sophisticated technical exploits to relatively simple social engineering attacks that target user credentials.

  • Microsoft's behavioural analysis engine only scans the behaviour of incoming email content for a short time before releasing the message to the user's inbox. Therefore, an advanced persistent threat that performs malicious actions over days or weeks can easily bypass this file analysis.
  • Cybercriminals who compromise valid user credentials can effectively bypass SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication because they aren't technically "spoofing" an email address. Instead, they are using a legitimate user's email address to carry out a malicious attack. As a result, these attacks will bypass anti-spoofing policies and may also avoid triggering anti-malware policies.

Both persistent and credential-based attacks are increasing in frequency and severity, especially for Microsoft 365 users. Unfortunately, office 365 does not provide built-in protections that are strong enough to prevent these attacks.

 

Augment Office 365 Spoofing Protection with PhishTitan

Microsoft 365 requires additional spoofing protection to safeguard email users from phishing, malware, and credential-based attacks. In addition, email users need features that respond to their unique risk profile to prevent these kinds of attacks reliably.

PhishTitan provides real-time protection against zero-hour phishing attacks using robust AI-driven analysis informed by curated threat intelligence data. In addition, it includes Office 365 users' defense against the threats that commonly bypass Microsoft's built-in solutions.

Some of the critical features that PhishTitan provides include:

Time-of-Click Protection. When email users click on embedded links, PhishTitan opens and scans that link for evidence of suspicious behaviour. It examines the reputation of the server hosting the website and compares it to the latest phishing data available on multiple threat intelligence data sources.

  • URL Rewriting. PhishTitan protects against sophisticated email threats by rewriting URL links when users click on them. This prevents attackers from leveraging IDN homograph attacks that use non-Latin character sets to trick people into visiting unsecured websites.
  • AI-Driven Analysis. When PhishTitan analyzes a new web page, it uses highly sophisticated AI modelling to determine whether the page is genuine. This enables the tool to identify spoofed pages that human operators can easily miss reliably.
  • Curated Threat Intelligence. PhishTitan's anti-spoofing capabilities are informed by threat intelligence feeds that focus extensively on emerging phishing threats. This ensures our customers remain at the forefront of threat detection while being able to respond quickly to new threat signatures as they are discovered.
  • Detailed Reporting & Insights. Learn more about your organization's risk profile and how to improve security performance moving forward. Demonstrate the value of security expenditure with highly detailed reports on email and productivity app protection.

When PhishTitan discovers a suspicious email, it flags it with a customized banner at the top. This gives email users clear, actionable information about the nature and severity of the threat contained and allows security professionals to make informed decisions when handling potentially dangerous files. 

Integrate PhishTitan into your Microsoft 365 environment. The deployment process is streamlined for Microsoft 365, enabling organizations to enhance their Office 365 spoofing protection capabilities in mere minutes. Schedule a demo to learn how PhishTitan can help you protect your email and productivity solutions from sophisticated cyberattacks today.

Schedule a demo to learn how PhishTitan can help you protect your email and productivity solutions from sophisticated cyberattacks today.

Book Demo
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