What is Office 365 Security?

Microsoft Office 365 is one of the most widely-used Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms in the world, currently used by over one million companies globally. However, despite its convenience, it also introduces new security risks that organizations must consider and manage as part of their cybersecurity risk management strategies.

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What is Office 365 Security?

Inside The Growth of Microsoft Office 365

Office 365 provides a variety of communications and collaboration tools, including:


  • Outlook 365: Cloud-based email
  • OneDrive: Cloud-based data storage
  • SharePoint: Cloud-based document management and storage
  • Teams: Video conferencing


The appeal of platforms like Office 365 is that they offer an all-in-one solution for corporate data storage, communication, and collaboration. These solutions were growing in popularity for years before the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift to widespread remote work made them essential for many organizations.

Security Risks of Office 365

When considering the risks associated with Office 365, email security is a vital consideration. However, email is not the only attack vector within the Office 365 product suite. Some of the most common security risks that Office 365 users encounter include:


  • Phishing Attacks: The Office 365 suite of software provides a number of delivery mechanisms for phishing content. Malicious links and attachments can be delivered via email, included in shared documents on OneDrive, or dropped in the chat in Microsoft Teams.
  • Malware Delivery: Malware is often composed of malicious files, and sharing and delivering files is a core capability of Office 365. Whether via email, OneDrive, SharePoint, or Teams, there are multiple vectors by which malicious content can enter an organization or spread laterally from a compromised account.
  • Business Email Compromise: Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams attempt to trick the target into sending money to an attacker, often in response to a fake, unpaid invoice. These fake invoices could be delivered via email. Alternatively, an attacker with access to a company OneDrive could insert a fake invoice into the company’s file storage and then “follow up” on it via email to make the scam more convincing.
  • Data Breaches: One of the biggest selling points of Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms like Office 365 is that they make it very easy to share data inside and outside an organization. However, this same easy sharing also makes it possible for data to be shared with unauthorized parties, which may lead to a data breach.


Office 365 Security Best Practices

Protecting against the cybersecurity risks of Office 365 requires a multi-pronged approach. Some security best practices to help reduce Office 365 security risks include:


  • Employee Awareness Programs: Employee cybersecurity awareness training is an essential component of an Office 365 security strategy. Many of the most common threats associated with Office 365 rely on an employee falling for a scam or accidentally breaching data out of ignorance or negligence. Cybersecurity awareness training can help to decrease an organization’s risk exposure by ingraining security best practices into the workforce.
  • ML-Based Phishing Prevention: Cyberattacks are constantly evolving, and many Office 365 attack vectors – such as BEC – do not use malware that can be detected via signature analysis. Protecting against the diverse threats facing Office 365 requires an email security solution that uses machine learning (ML) to detect new/unknown malware variants, perform linguistic analysis to identify BEC and other social engineering emails.
  • Anti-Malware Defenses: Office 365 is ideally suited to delivering malware through an organization. A company should have anti-malware defenses in place at both the network and endpoint level to ensure that malware infections are detected and eliminated before they cause damage to the target system.
  • Outbound Data Protection: Office 365’s data sharing capabilities are useful but also pose a major threat of data exfiltration and loss. Strong data security requires outbound data protection that monitors Office 365 traffic for indications of attempted exfiltration of sensitive company data.
  • Complete Attack Vector Coverage: Office 365 offers a diverse suite of products, which provides a number of different attack vectors for cybercriminals to exploit. Securing Office 365 requires a solution that offers complete coverage of all potential attack vectors to ensure that no potential risks are overlooked.


Securing Office 365 with Check Point

Office 365 is a major asset for many organizations, especially when remote work makes the ability to communicate and collaborate online more important than ever.  However, Office 365 also creates a number of potential attack vectors as cybercriminals abuse these same features.


Protecting against the cybersecurity risks associated with Office 365 requires a multi-layered security solution. At the network level, an organization should implement solutions for inspecting emails and other shared content for malware and phishing content, attempted data exfiltration and other threats. However, it is possible that some attacks may slip past these network-level defenses.  This makes a comprehensive solution that secures users, devices, and access necessary to ensure that all potential attack vectors are closed and that an attack can be detected and remediated at any stage of its lifecycle.


Check Point Harmony Email and Office provides a cloud-based security solution to help close the attack vectors associated with Microsoft Office 365. To learn more about its capabilities and how it can help to protect your remote workforce, you’re welcome to schedule a free demo.

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