Consulting with a Conscience™

A cruciallogics blog

Written by Amol Joshi
on March 14, 2024

According to the latest Microsoft Digital Defense Report, credential phishing schemes are on the rise and remain a substantial threat to users everywhere because they indiscriminately target all inboxes. These attacks trick users into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials, personal data, or financial information. The volume of phishing attacks is orders of magnitude greater than all other threats. However, you can harden your defences and minimize the risk with the right tools and knowledge.  Here’s how:

Shield Your Inbox

Microsoft Outlook, a widely used email client, offers several robust features that aid in identifying and thwarting phishing attempts that, include:

Junk Email Filtering: Outlook's built-in Junk Email Filtering automatically directs suspicious emails to the Junk Email folder. We recommend regularly reviewing this folder to ensure legitimate messages aren't mistakenly marked as spam.

Phishing Email Protection: Outlook's advanced security options provide real-time protection against known phishing threats. When this feature is enabled, users receive warnings and prevent malicious emails from reaching their inboxes.

Attachments and Links: Outlook's attachment and link scanning capabilities can detect potential threats. Exercise caution when opening attachments or clicking links, especially if they originate from unknown or untrusted sources.

Strengthen Overall Security in Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 (M365), a suite of productivity applications, offers comprehensive security features to safeguard against phishing attacks. According to the report, Microsoft 365 credentials remain one of the most highly sought-after account types for attackers. Once login credentials are compromised, attackers can log in to corporate-tied computer systems to facilitate infection with malware and ransomware, steal confidential company data and information by accessing SharePoint files, and continue the spread of phish by sending additional malicious emails using Outlook.

Here are additional measures you can take in M365:

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enable MFA across all M365 applications to add an extra layer of security. MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts by requiring multiple verification methods.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Utilize M365's DLP capabilities to detect and prevent the unauthorized transmission of sensitive information via email or other communication channels, such as credit card numbers or social security numbers.

Enhancing Collaboration Security

Microsoft Defender, an integrated security solution, provides powerful protection against phishing attacks. Here are some key features you can leverage:

Anti-phishing Protection: Microsoft Defender's capabilities help identify and block malicious websites and email links. Regularly update the antivirus and anti-malware definitions to ensure you have the latest protection against emerging threats.

Real-time Threat Intelligence: Microsoft Defender utilizes cloud-based threat intelligence to identify and respond to evolving phishing attacks. This dynamic system enhances the detection capabilities, keeping you one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): Microsoft Defender's EDR features provide real-time monitoring and analysis of endpoint activities. This helps detect and respond swiftly to phishing attempts, minimizing the potential damage.

Microsoft's Azure Active Directory (AD)

Azure AD offers identity protection features that detect and prevent phishing attempts through a series of features:

Detection of risky sign-ins. This includes sign-ins from unfamiliar locations, unrecognized devices, or suspicious IP addresses. If detected, Azure AD will automatically block these sign-ins and require additional verification steps, such as multi-factor authentication, to ensure the user's identity is not compromised.

Detection of impossible travel occurs when a user is signed in from two locations within a short period, and the distance between them suggests that the user can't have travelled between them. In these instances, Azure AD will prompt users to confirm their identity before granting access to sensitive data.

Azure AD also benefits from Microsoft's advanced threat intelligence, which leverages machine learning algorithms to identify and block potential phishing attacks. This ensures that users do not unknowingly provide their credentials to spoofed sites, reducing the risk of identity theft.

Defender for Office 365

Machine Learning: Defender for Office 365 uses machine learning-based methods to detect and block phishing attempts. It compares incoming emails against a set of patterns and rules that are trained to recognize phishing attacks. If the system identifies the email as suspicious, it can automatically remove or label it as spam, ensuring your users do not receive unsafe emails.

Real-time URL Scanning and Analysis: Phishers commonly use such links to redirect users to malicious websites that steal sensitive information. Defender for Cloud Apps will look for signs of a phishing attempt, such as suspicious website behaviour or similarities to other known phishing pages.

Advanced Threat Protection: It can scan file attachments and assess their security risk level. For example, it can detect and block suspicious file types, such as executable files, scripts, or macros. This protection ensures that your users are not exposed to malware that can harm their devices or steal their information.

Defender for Endpoint

Defender for Endpoint provides robust protection against many cyber threats, including phishing attacks.

Real-time Protection System: Network activity is monitored with behavioural analysis, and malicious traffic is identified and blocked.

Real-time alerts: Notifications about potential threats enables your users to take swift action to prevent further damage and to report the incident to the security team.

User Education

Regular training sessions help users develop a security-conscious mindset, reducing the likelihood of falling prey to phishing attacks. If you haven’t already, consider regular user training part of your corporate culture.

With the prevalence of phishing attacks, it is crucial to arm ourselves with effective security measures. Microsoft applications offer robust protection against these threats. By harnessing the power of these tools and implementing best practices, individuals and corporations can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phishing attacks. And if you would like assistance with any of these applications, contact us today.


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