In this day and age, spam is a way of life. Blackhats are constantly working to dupe everyone with extremely real looking emails.

Estimates show that over 50% of all global email is spam as of September 2018. In all of 2018, an estimated total of 856.62 million identified instances of malware were recorded. 

Lately, I’ve heard multiple stories from clients who barely averted financial disaster due to an email scam. 

Imagine...

The office administrator gets an email from what appears to be the owner of the company asking for an immediate $20,000 wire transfer due to some emergency. 

Given the urgency, much less care is given and some large assumptions are made.  

It appears to be from the CEO, but it should be an internal email, which it's not. 

The transfer is made, money is lost, and now everyone is on edge regarding their inboxes.

At some point, you may be in a similar situation where you click on an email you shouldn’t have, get infected with malware, and now your email is being monitored. 

How can this be avoided?

Add Warnings

If you added a warning to every email that originated from outside the organization, situations like the one above could be easily avoided. A warning in the subject line would have made it clear the urgent request did NOT, in fact, come from the CEO, and should be immediately deleted. 

It’s extremely easy to add warnings to an email subject line or even the email body. Let’s create some warnings to avoid these situations before someone really screws up!

I’ll give you 2 examples, one on how to adjust the subject line and the other on how to adjust the body content to include a warning sign.

1. Prepend the Email Subject Line with a Warning

 

  1. Open the Exchange Online Admin Center. Under Mail Flow > click Rules.
  2. Click the + sign > create a new rule and give it a name.
  3. Click on the Sender is located outside the organization.
  4. Click More Options Add condition under Apply this rule if.
  5. Click on the new condition, and choose the recipient is located then Inside the organization.
  6. For Do the following, click to Prepend the subject of the message with, and type something like [EXTERNAL].
  7. For the Except, choose if the Subject or body matches, and add EXTERNAL.
    1. We do this so it doesn’t continue to add EXTERNAL to the subject. It will do it only once.
  8. For the Mode of this rule, click Enforce > Save.

It will produce email that looks like this:

2. Prepend the Body of an Email with a Warning

Using this warning method is actually my preference. Every email will be included in the implementation and the code can be in HTML, meaning you can color the warning however you want.

  1. Open the Exchange Online Admin Center. Under Mail Flow > click Rules.
  2. Click the + sign > create a new rule and give it a name.
  3. Click on the Sender is located outside the organization.
  4. Click More Options > Add condition under Apply this rule if.
  5. Click on the new condition, and choose the recipient is located then Inside the organization.
  6. For Do the following, click to Apply a disclaimer to the message then prepend a disclaimer.  In the box, this can be anything want, but here, you can paste HTML for whatever you want. The following HTML will make a nice, small and colored warning:
    1. <div><div style="background-color:#FFEB9C; width:100%; border-style: solid; border-color:x9C6500; border-width:1pt; padding:2pt; font-size:10pt; line-height:12pt; font-family:'Calibri'; color:Black; text-align: left;"><b><span style='font-size:10.0pt;color:#9C5000'>CAUTION:  </span></b>This email originated from outside of the organization. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.</div>&nbsp;</div>
    1. Set the fall back option to Wrap.
  7. For the Mode of this rule, click Enforce then click Save.

The result will produce an email that looks like this:

Which warning do you like better? The warning within the body is certainly more obvious. 

Feel free to tweak as you see fit. On every email and reply, this method will insert that small colored table and text at the top of the body of the email.

I hope this helps and please reach out to us for any of your Office 365 needs!