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Email Safety Tips in Office 365

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Today’s spam and malware attacks are sometimes so well-crafted they may look legitimate to your users, and putting messages into the Junk Email folder isn’t enough. Over the coming weeks, we are rolling out Safety Tips in Exchange Online Protection, an additional layer of protection for all users that provides a warning to the user in an email that is marked suspicious, or a reassurance when a message is safe.

When a message includes a safety tip, the tip will be displayed in a messaging bar at the top of the email in one of four color-coded categories indicating that the message is either Suspicious, Unknown, Trusted or Safe.

  • Messages marked Suspicious have a red safety tip and are either a known phishing message, have failed sender authentication, are a suspected spoofing message or have met some other criteria that Exchange Online Protection has used to determine the message is fraudulent. You should not interact with suspicious messages and instead should delete them.

  • A yellow bar at the top of the message indicates an Unknown safety level. Being marked as Unknown indicates that Exchange Online Protection has marked the message as spam. You can click the It’s not spam link in the yellow bar of a junk mail item to move the message to your inbox.

  • Messages from a Trusted sender display a green bar at the top of the message. These are from domains identified by Microsoft as being safe.

  • Messages marked with a gray safety tip indicates that the email was not filtered for spam because it is either considered Safe by the user’s organization, is on the user’s safe senders list or Exchange Online Protection marked the message as junk but the user moved it out of the junk folder to the inbox. The gray safety bar also appears when images within the message have been disabled.

All four types of Safety Tips are included in the Outlook on the web experience, whereas Outlook clients, whether desktop or mobile, will display only the Suspicious safety tip. Most messages in your inbox will not have a safety tip; we only add them when we have information users need.

How do we determine which Safety Tip to apply?

As an industry-leading solution for securing your email, Exchange Online Protection analyzes data patterns across millions of emails to identify spam, malware and phishing threats. Based on this ongoing analysis, Exchange Online Protection is able to identify suspicious messages and apply the appropriate Safety Tip.

Users can also report misclassified messages back to us for analysis. We’ll take these samples and use them to make your experience better.

Safety Tips are an important tool in combating phishing scams and online fraud. With this new functionality, Office 365 automatically provides an additional layer of protection for all its users. We will continue to enrich the Safety Tips feature to ensure our users have the best experience.

—The Office 365 team

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10 comments
  1. This is a really great feature and will be really helpful to avoid scam and other usual phishing attacks.

    Really great guys !

  2. Thank you for this new feature !
    Question : Will our users be getting these tips in Outlook 2013, or just in webmail ?

    • Thanks for the great question Alain. Users will receive the premier Safety Tip experience in Outlook on the web with all four different types of tips described above. In other clients, such as Outlook (regardless of version) we will display to end users the suspicious (red) safety tip scenario.

  3. Q- Can you please specify the versions of Outlook (client) that this feature will support. Specifically, which updates will be needed to support both previous versions of Outlook (2013) and the current version (2016). More info is needed to prepare for this change.

    • Agreed, Please clarify which outlook clients this works with. This is exactly the sort of thing we will get bombarded with if the change drops and people are not aware of the change. And if we tell everyone their clients will alert them but for some of them it doesn’t some malicious emails might get through.

      So I second Matt’s Question: Which Outlook Clients will support the Safety Tips?

      • Is someone able to reply to Matt and Ross’ question? Great question BTW.

  4. Safety Tips in Outlook on the web doesn’t have a way to turn it on or off, it’s a web page and we control when to show it based upon how we classify the message. The safety tip is rendered using javascript.

    Safety Tips in Outlook – your desktop client – is different. We take apart the actual message and insert it directly into the message, then reconstruct it. That is, we update the HTML and the plain text (if they exist; not all messages are sent in both HTML and plain text) so that it is now part of the message. This means that you can view it in all versions of Outlook. We sometimes refer to this internally as “inline safety tips” because we insert them inline into the message. You can choose to enable or disable inline safety tips, or scope them to a particular set of users the same way you can scope the spam or malware filter policies.

  5. It would be great if we could mark specific addresses, such as helpdesk, security desk communications internally as ‘green’ thus identifying to end users that the email is ‘official’ or trusted etc. Is there any manual access to these lists on a tenant basis?

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