It’s crucial that organizations using Office 365 find and implement a strong, multi-layered email security solution for their users. Office 365 has quickly become one of the most popular cloud-based platforms, making it a prime target for attackers looking for an easy way to compromise email data. In the cloud, email has remained the number one threat vector, with attacks like phishing attacks, spam and ransomware becoming major issues for many businesses.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the top email security solutions for use with Office 365. This article will cover many different kinds of email security technologies that can be used in isolation, or combined with other tools. These solution include Secure Email Gateways, which filter malicious emails before they enter users’ inboxes, Phishing Protection platforms that automatically remove phishing attacks, and email encryption solutions that secure email communications.
We’ll cover the key features of these solutions, what makes them perfect to secure emails with Office 365, and what types of customers they are most suitable for.
What Are The Risks Facing Your Email Account?
Email is a very effective means of reaching to people all over the world who you may or may not know. While this is very useful, it also poses a significant security risk. You may think that you know who you are in contact with, but how can you be sure? Some of the most common threats to your email inbox include:
- Email spoofing uses emails that appear to be legitimate, but are, in fact, fake. As these emails look legitimate, users may be tricked into giving up sensitive data, or transferring money to the attackers.
- Links or downloads attached to emails may look innocent but may actually contain malware or viruses. These are short pieces of code that can wreak havoc on your device when activated. Ransomware, for instance, will lock your important documents until you pay the attackers a ransom fee.
- Whaling is another form of email borne attack. This is a type of phishing that specifically targets high ranking executives within an organization who have power over billing and can unknowingly send money to the attackers.
How Do Email Security Solutions Work?
Email security solutions will work in several ways to mitigate the threats facing your organization.
- Most email security solutions will be built around a filtering tool. This will use pre-set policies to block, in bulk, unwanted emails. Many solutions will also be linked to a database of known malware threats. If they identify any evidence that matches a known malware, it can quickly be deleted.
- Some email solutions will use behavioral analysis to ensure that a user is behaving in a consistent way. If a user is behaving abnormally, it might suggest that their account is compromised.
- Email security solutions may also have outbound features. These will decrease the chances of you sending sensitive information to the wrong user. Data loss prevention tools will be a part of this. Some solutions may allow you to encrypt mail before it gets sent.
How Does Office 365 Email Protection Work?
Email security tools for Microsoft 365 protect email accounts, content, attachments, and users against malicious activity, compromise, or breach. There are three commonly used approaches to implementing email security for Office 365.
First is by using Microsoft’s own internal protection: Microsoft Defender for Office 365. This is a native email security service which sits on top of the default email security included with Microsoft 365 (Exchange Online Protection) and provides enhanced protection against zero-day malware, phishing attacks, and business email compromises by placing warning banners on email content and automatically removing harmful email messages.
Second is by deploying a physical or cloud-based secure email gateway. These services monitor all incoming and outbound email traffic to remove spam and malware, using rule-based controls to prevent delivery of harmful email content. This is deployed via redirecting mail exchange (MX records) to point email towards the security service for filtering before deployment.
The third kind of email security method for Microsoft 365 is a category of “integrated cloud email security” (ICES) solutions. These cloud-native email security services deploy via API connection directly into the Microsoft 365 environment, enabling them to scan internal email content in real-time to detect compromised email accounts, phishing-threats, malicious links, and attachments.
The best method of Office 365 email protection will depend on your specific organizational use cases and risks. SEGs are the best approach to stop malware and harmful email content, while cloud email security services can help to prevent sophisticated phishing threats that may evade the rule based controls of SEG solutions.