Microsoft Office 365 is among the most popular options for hosting business class email in the cloud. With millions of users, however, there has recently been an increase in malicious actors compromising email accounts through phishing/spam email messages. These phishing emails often contain links that, when clicked on by an unsuspecting user, can provide the hacker with access to the user’s email account, and from there they can send out more spam as well as potentially intercept email to engage in fraud, identity theft and other criminal activity.
One of the best ways to protect yourself against this kind of threat is by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA), or what Microsoft terms “modern authentication (MA)” on your Office 365 – hosted email account.
MA or 2FA is a hardened form of account login that requires more than just a password. When you login to your email through office.com, you will then be prompted to provide a secondary verification in the form of a one-time code. So even if the hacker gets your account password, they will not be able to login as only you will get the additional verification code.
In cases where you are linking your Office account to a device, such as the Outlook App for iPhone or Android, you will not need to enter a second verification code every time you check your mail. Instead, you will be provided a second, randomly generated “device password” which is separate from your online login password and can only be used by these apps to authenticate with the mail server. This allows for quick easy access to mail on your mobile device, while still preventing anyone with internet access from potentially guessing your primary password and gaining access to your account.
For full instructions on enabling MFA on Office online see the Microsoft Knowledge base.
Sean Kirby is the Help Desk Manager at Triella. We are a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium-sized firms. Sean can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to our blog page. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Webroot Reseller.
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