Microsoft 365 Security: How CDR Integration Boosts Email Security

June 28, 2022

Employees in every enterprise regularly receive emails with content and attachments from within and outside the organization, involving multiple business units, vendors, partners, and other third parties. 

With all of the emails and attachments entering your organization each day, any employee with an email address – especially those that often interact with the world outside your company – is vulnerable to zero-day targeted attacks via sophisticated phishing attempts and hijacked email conversations. Phishing refers to the fraudulent practice of sending email messages that contain a malicious attachment and look harmless to the recipients. 

Hackers use increasingly sophisticated social-engineering tactics to get victims to open these phishing emails. Due to this increase in complex social-engineering tactics, many businesses have seen an increase in spear-phishing schemes and business email compromise (BEC) attacks, particularly those targeting Microsoft Office 365 users.

Microsoft Office 365 Security is Not Sufficient

According to the FBI, phishing emails were the most common type of cybercrime in 2020—with nearly 250,000 incidents reported. And since then, the number of phishing attacks has tripled. Simply put, it’s almost too easy. Hackers know that employees must open enterprise email communications in a timely manner to avoid operational delays and productivity interruptions. Weaponizing attachments in these emails is the master key that opens the door to a wide range of cyber hacks and crimes. 

Microsoft Office 365 users are especially vulnerable to malicious email attachments. For example, 85% of organizations using Microsoft 365 have experienced an email data breach. According to the Verizon Data Breach Report, 71% of attacks occur through Microsoft Office files and Windows Apps, and 98% of threats target Office Suite documents that use macros. These are scary numbers for Microsoft Office 365 users.

Some recent examples:

February 2022: Hackers targeted Microsoft 365 users with phishing emails that utilized a technique known as the right-to-left override (RLO). The aim is to trick Microsoft 365 users into clicking on a file attachment by spoofing the extension of a file using a special Unicode character. While users may think they are clicking on a .mp3 voicemail file or a simple .txt message, they are actually executing a malicious .exe script. 

August 2021: Microsoft alerted users about a phishing campaign targeting Office 365 enterprises that employs several techniques to bypass phishing detection. These techniques included the use of legitimate-looking original sender email addresses, an Office 365 phishing page, and a compromised SharePoint site that urges victims to type in their credentials. 

Why Your Organization Can’t Rely on Native Microsoft 365 Security and Traditional Cyber Security Solutions Protect Your Content

It takes more than native Microsoft Office 365 security to protect your enterprise against email attacks that grow more sophisticated every day. Existing solutions, such as secure email gateways, antivirus software, and sandboxing, provide a layer of defense against known malware already logged in threat databases. But unknown, new, and zero-day threats – or techniques that mask known threats like password-protecting or zipping files – evade these traditional approaches to email and web security. With close to nine million new malware threats recorded per month, relying on Microsoft Office’s security is a risk no organization can take.

To combat this risk, organizations often default to blocking files intended for business use. This approach to email and file security hinders productivity and disrupts the delivery of business-critical files and communications. As a result,  blocking files is not a viable or scalable solution for a growth-oriented organization. Instead, enterprises need a technology-based Office 365 security solution that allows for the seamless flow of communications while still protecting employees from potential social engineering through email phishing schemes. 

The Solution: Content Disarm and Reconstruction 

Content Disarm and Reconstruction (CDR) is a security technology that cleanses potentially malicious code from computer files. Also known as file sanitization, CDR does not rely on detection like other anti-malware tools. Instead, the technology assumes all files are malicious and scrutinizes all individual file components located outside the approved firewall. As a file sanitizer, the technology removes any malware, strips any embedded code, and rebuilds the file in a way that disrupts any additional covert malicious code. The end result is a safe copy of the original file, with all functionality intact. 

Votiro Cloud: Deliver Safe Files Instantly

Votiro Cloud proactively removes malware threats from Office 365 email content and attachments without significantly delaying email delivery. Votiro’s patented Content Disarm and Reconstruction-as-a-Service technology identifies the known-good elements of files, selecting them and moving them to a clean file template in a single, seamless process. 

CDR achieves three main objectives that help boost Microsoft 365 security. It removes all malware from the delivered content, including new, unknown, or hidden malware, without the need to detect the malware first. Our CDR solutions also apply a zero-trust security approach to all incoming content, as every single piece of content is processed in an identical way. This zero-trust strategy allows employees to receive the content right away, without delays or support requests to IT. Additionally, it enables employees to engage immediately, as the functionality and integrity of content remain intact.
For more information about how to keep your Microsoft Office 365 files safe from file-borne cyber-attacks with technology that integrates easily into your existing infrastructure, contact us today. You can also schedule a free demo if you’re interested in seeing what CDR solutions can do for your business first-hand.