Built-in virus protection in SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams


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Microsoft 365 uses a common virus detection engine for scanning files that users upload to SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams. This protection is included with all subscriptions that include SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.


The built-in anti-virus capabilities are a way to help contain viruses. They aren't intended as a single point of defense against malware for your environment. We encourage all customers to investigate and implement anti-malware protection at various layers and apply best practices for securing their enterprise infrastructure.

What happens if an infected file is uploaded to SharePoint Online?

The Microsoft 365 virus detection engine scans files asynchronously (at some time after upload). If a user tries to download a file in a web browser or from Teams that hasn't been scanned, a scan is triggered before the download is allowed. All file types are not automatically scanned. Heuristics determine the files to scan. When a file is found to contain a virus, the file is flagged.

Here's what happens:

  1. A user uploads a file to SharePoint Online.
  2. SharePoint Online, as part of its virus scanning processes, later determines if the file meets the criteria for a scan.
  3. If the file meets the criteria for a scan, the virus detection engine scans the file.
  4. If a virus is found within the scanned file, the virus engine sets a property on the file that indicates the file is infected.

What happens when a user tries to download an infected file by using the browser?

By default, users can download infected files from SharePoint Online. Here's what happens:

  1. In a web browser, a user tries to download a file from SharePoint Online that happens to be infected.
  2. The user is shown a warning that a virus was detected in the file. The user is given the option to proceed with the download and attempt to clean it using anti-virus software on their device.

To change this behavior so users can't download infected files, even from the anti-virus warning window, admins can use the DisallowInfectedFileDownload parameter on the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet in SharePoint Online PowerShell. The value $true for the DisallowInfectedFileDownload parameter completely blocks access to detected/blocked files for users.

For instructions, see Use SharePoint Online PowerShell to prevent users from downloading malicious files.

Can admins bypass DisallowInfectedFileDownload and extract infected files?

SharePoint admins and global admins* are allowed to do forensic file extractions of malware-infected files in SharePoint Online PowerShell with the Get-SPOMalwareFileContent cmdlet. Admins don't need access to the site that hosts the infected content. As long as the file is marked as malware, admins can use Get-SPOMalwareFileContent to extract the file.

For more information about the infected file, admins can use the Get-SPOMalwareFile cmdlet to see the type of malware that was detected and the status of the infection.


* Microsoft recommends that you use roles with the fewest permissions. Using lower permissioned accounts helps improve security for your organization. Global Administrator is a highly privileged role that should be limited to emergency scenarios when you can't use an existing role.

What happens when the OneDrive sync client tries to sync an infected file?

When a malicious file is uploaded to OneDrive, the file is synced to the local machine before being marked as malware. After the file is marked as malware, the user can't open the synced file from their local machine.

Extended capabilities with Microsoft Defender for Office 365

Microsoft 365 organizations that have Microsoft Defender for Office 365 included in their subscription or purchased as an add-on can enable Safe Attachments for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams for enhanced reporting and protection. For more information, see Safe Attachments for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.

Malware and ransomware protection in Microsoft 365

Turn on Safe Attachments for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.