The Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online Protection team is introducing three new changes to protect users of their email service. The changes are being rolled out in the first quarter of 2016 and include faster detection of malicious attachments, increased efficiency for categorizing spam and new protection against fake CEO spoofing attacks. 

Fake CEO email spoofing attacks, also known as “insider spoofing” or “peer phishing,” occur when an attacker impersonates a high-ranking company official and spoofs their email address. This makes the attacker’s request appear legitimate and the person who has been contacted often ends up funneling money to the attacker in an attempt to fulfill the request. As per the security team’s post, “Fortunately, by built-in intelligence that leverages big data, strong authentication checks and reputation filters, Exchange Online Protection has strengthened its counterfeit detection by over 500 percent.”

Microsoft is also updating its protection against malicious attachments, known as the Advanced Threat Protection Safe Attachments feature. Previously, the process to analyze a suspicious attachment required about five to seven minutes. The company is rolling out a Dynamic Delivery of Safe Attachments feature, eliminating that delay “by sending the body of the email with a placeholder attachment, while the actual suspicious attachment undergoes a Safe Attachment scan. Recipients can read and respond to the message, which includes notification that the original attachment is being analyzed. If the real attachment is cleared, it replaces the placeholder; if not, the admin can filter out the unwanted and potentially malicious attachment.”

Additionally, the new Zero-hour Auto Purge feature will allow real-time correction of misidentified spam email and similar correction of spam which has bypassed security filters. The security upgrades are a response to the data Microsoft’s Office 365 Exchange Online Protection team has collected, processing over 200 billion emails each month and blocking “10 million spam messages every minute.” 

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