Protect against threats

Tip

Did you know you can try the features in Microsoft 365 Defender for Office 365 Plan 2 for free? Use the 90-day Defender for Office 365 trial at the Microsoft 365 Defender portal trials hub. Learn about who can sign up and trial terms here.

Applies to

Here's a quick-start guide that breaks the configuration of Defender for Office 365 into chunks. If you're new to threat protection features in Office 365, not sure where to begin, or if you learn best by doing, use this guidance as a checklist and a starting point.

Important

Initial recommended settings are included for each kind of policy; however, many options are available, and you can adjust your settings to meet your specific organization's needs. Allow approximately 30 minutes for your policies or changes to work their way through your datacenter.

To skip manual configuration of most policies in Defender for Office 365, you can use preset security policies at the Standard or Strict level. For more information, see Preset security policies in EOP and Microsoft Defender for Office 365.

Requirements

Subscriptions

Threat protection features are included in all Microsoft or Office 365 subscriptions; however, some subscriptions have advanced features. The table below lists the protection features included in this article together with the minimum subscription requirements.

Tip

Notice that beyond the directions to turn on auditing, steps start anti-malware, anti-phishing, and anti-spam, which are marked as part of Office 365 Exchange Online Protection (EOP). This can seem odd in a Defender for Office 365 article, until you remember (Defender for Office 365) contains, and builds on, EOP.

Protection type Subscription requirement
Audit logging (for reporting purposes) Exchange Online
Anti-malware protection Exchange Online Protection (EOP)
Anti-phishing protection EOP
Anti-spam protection EOP
Protection from malicious URLs and files in email and Office documents (Safe Links and Safe Attachments) Microsoft Defender for Office 365

Roles and permissions

To configure Defender for Office 365 policies, you must be assigned an appropriate role. Take a look at the table below for roles that can do these actions.

Role or role group Where to learn more
global administrator About Microsoft 365 admin roles
Security Administrator Azure AD built-in roles
Exchange Online Organization Management Permissions in Exchange Online

To learn more, see Permissions in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal.

Turn on audit logging for reporting and investigation

Part 1 - Anti-malware protection in EOP

For more information about the recommended settings for anti-malware, see EOP anti-malware policy settings.

  1. Open the Anti-malware page in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com/antimalwarev2.

  2. On the Anti-malware page, select the policy named Default (Default) by clicking on the name.

  3. In the policy details flyout that opens, click Edit protection settings, and then configure the following settings:

    • Protection settings section:
      • Enable the common attachments filter: Select (turn on). Click Customize file types to add more file types.
      • Enable zero-hour auto purge for malware: Verify this setting is selected. For more information about ZAP for malware, see Zero-hour auto purge (ZAP) for malware.
    • Quarantine policy: Leave the default value AdminOnlyAccessPolicy selected. Quarantine policies define what users are able to do to quarantined messages, and whether users receive quarantine notifications. For more information, see Quarantine policies.
    • Notification section: Verify that none of the notification settings are selected.

    When you're finished, click Save.

  4. Back on the policy details flyout, click Close.

For detailed instructions for configuring anti-malware policies, see Configure anti-malware policies in EOP.

Part 2 - Anti-phishing protection in EOP and Defender for Office 365

Anti-phishing protection is available in subscriptions that include EOP. Advanced anti-phishing protection is available in Defender for Office 365.

For more information about the recommended settings for anti-phishing policies, see EOP anti-phishing policy settings and Anti-phishing policy settings in Microsoft Defender for Office 365.

The following procedure describes how to configure the default anti-phishing policy. Settings that are only available in Defender for Office 365 are clearly marked.

  1. Open the Anti-phishing page in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com/antiphishing.

  2. On the Anti-phishing page, select the policy named Office365 AntiPhish Default (Default) by clicking on the name.

  3. In the policy details flyout that appears, configure the following settings:

    • Phishing threshold & protection section: Click Edit protection settings and configure the following settings in the flyout that opens:

      • Phishing email threshold*: Select 2 - Aggressive (Standard) or 3 - More Aggressive (Strict).
      • Impersonation section*: Configure the following values:
        • Select Enable users to protect, click the Manage (nn) sender(s) link that appears, and then add internal and external senders to protect from impersonation, such as your organization's board members, your CEO, CFO, and other senior leaders.
        • Select Enable domains to protect, and then configure the following settings that appear:
          • Select Include domains I own to protect internal senders in your accepted domains (visible by clicking View my domains) from impersonation.
          • To protect senders in other domains, select Include custom domains, click the Manage (nn) custom domain(s) link that appears, and then add other domains to protect from impersonation.
      • Add trusted senders and domains section*: Click Manage (nn) trusted sender(s) and domains(s) to configure sender and sender domain exceptions to impersonation protection if needed.
      • Mailbox intelligence settings*: Verify that Enable mailbox intelligence and Enable intelligence for impersonation protection are selected.
      • Spoof section: Verify Enable spoof intelligence is selected.

      When you're finished, click Save.

    • Actions section: Click Edit actions and configure the following settings in the flyout that opens:

      • Message actions section: Configure the following settings:
        • If message is detected as an impersonated user*: Select Quarantine the message. An Apply quarantine policy box appears where you select the quarantine policy that applies to messages that are quarantined by user impersonation protection.
        • If message is detected as an impersonated domain*: Select Quarantine the message. An Apply quarantine policy box appears where you select the quarantine policy that applies to messages that are quarantined by domain impersonation protection.
        • If mailbox intelligence detects an impersonated user*: Select Move message to the recipients' Junk Email folders (Standard) or Quarantine the message (Strict). If you select Quarantine the message, an Apply quarantine policy box appears where you select the quarantine policy that applies to messages that are quarantined by mailbox intelligence protection.
        • If message is detected as spoof: Select Move message to the recipients' Junk Email folders (Standard) or Quarantine the message (Strict). If you select Quarantine the message, an Apply quarantine policy box appears where you select the quarantine policy that applies to messages that are quarantined by spoof intelligence protection.
      • Safety tips & indicators section: Configure the following settings:
        • Show first contact safety tip: Select (turn on).
        • Show user impersonation safety tip*: Select (turn on).
        • Show domain impersonation safety tip*: Select (turn on).
        • Show user impersonation unusual characters safety tip*: Select (turn on).
        • Show (?) for unauthenticated senders for spoof: Select (turn on).
        • Show "via" tag: Select (turn on).

      When you're finished, click Save.

    * This setting is available only in Defender for Office 365.

  4. Click Save and then click Close

For detailed instructions for configuring anti-phishing policies, see Configure anti-phishing policies in EOP and Configure anti-phishing policies in Microsoft Defender for Office 365.

Part 3 - Anti-spam protection in EOP

For more information about the recommended settings for anti-spam, see EOP anti-spam policy settings.

  1. Open the Anti-spam policies page in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com/antispam.

  2. On the Anti-spam policies page, select the policy named Anti-spam inbound policy (Default) from the list by clicking on the name.

  3. In the policy details flyout that appears, configure the following settings:

    • Bulk email threshold & spam properties section: Click Edit spam threshold and properties. In the flyout that appears, configure the following settings:

      • Bulk email threshold: Set this value to 5 (Strict) or 6 (Standard).
      • Leave other settings at their default values (Off or None).

      When you're finished, click Save.

    • Actions section: Click Edit actions. In the flyout that appears, configure the following settings:

      • Message actions section:

        • Spam: Verify Move message to Junk Email folder is selected (Standard) or select Quarantine message (Strict).
        • High confidence spam: Select Quarantine message.
        • Phishing: Select Quarantine message.
        • High confidence phishing: Verify Quarantine messages is selected.
        • Bulk: Verify Move message to Junk Email folder is selected (Standard) or select Quarantine message (Strict).

        For each action where you select Quarantine message, a Select quarantine policy box appears where you select the quarantine policy that applies to messages that are quarantined by anti-spam protection.

      • Retain spam in quarantine for this many days: Verify the value 30 days.

      • Enable spam safety tips: Verify this setting is selected (turned on).

      • Enable zero-hour auto purge (ZAP): Verify this setting is selected (turned on).

      When you're finished, click Save.

    • Allowed and blocked senders and domains section: Review or edit your allowed senders and allowed domains as described in Create blocked sender lists in EOP or Create safe sender lists in EOP.

      When you're finished, click Save.

  4. When you're finished, click Close.

For detailed instructions for configuring anti-spam policies, see Configure anti-spam policies in EOP.

Time-of-click protection from malicious URLs and files is available in subscriptions that include Microsoft Defender for Office 365. It's set up through Safe Attachments and Safe Links policies.

Safe Attachments policies in Microsoft Defender for Office 365

For more information about the recommended settings for Safe Attachments, see .Safe Attachments settings.

  1. Open the Safe Attachments page in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com/safeattachmentv2.

  2. On the Safe Attachments page, click Global settings, and then configure the following settings on the flyout that appears:

    • Turn on Defender for Office 365 for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams: Turn on this setting (Toggle on.).

      Important

      Before you turn on Safe Attachments for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams, verify that audit logging is turned in your organization. This action is typically done by someone who has the Audit Logs role assigned in Exchange Online. For more information, see Turn audit log search on or off!

    • Turn on Safe Documents for Office clients: Turn on this setting (Toggle on.). Note that this feature is available and meaningful only with the required types of licenses. For more information, see Safe Documents in Microsoft 365 E5.

    • Allow people to click through Protected View even if Safe Documents identified the file as malicious: Verify this setting is turned off (Toggle off.).

    When you're finished, click Save

  3. Back on the Safe Attachments page, click Create icon..

  4. In the Create Safe Attachments policy wizard that opens, configure the following settings:

    • Name your policy page:
      • Name: Enter something unique and descriptive.
      • Description: Enter an optional description.
    • Users and domains page: Because this is your first policy and you likely want to maximize coverage, consider entering your accepted domains in the Domains box. Otherwise, you can use the Users and Groups boxes for more granular control. You can specify exceptions by selecting Exclude these users, groups, and domains and entering values.
    • Settings page:
      • Safe Attachments unknown malware response: Select Block.
      • Quarantine policy: The default value is blank, which means the AdminOnlyAccessPolicy policy is used. Quarantine policies define what users are able to do to quarantined messages, and whether users receive quarantine notifications. For more information, see Quarantine policies.
      • Redirect attachment with detected attachments : Enable redirect: Turn this setting on (select) and enter an email address to receive detected messages.
      • Apply the Safe Attachments detection response if scanning can't complete (timeout or errors): Verify this setting is selected.
  5. When you're finished, click Submit, and then click Done.

  6. (Recommended) As a global administrator or a SharePoint Online administrator, run the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet with the DisallowInfectedFileDownload parameter set to $true in SharePoint Online PowerShell.

    • $true blocks all actions (except Delete) for detected files. People can't open, move, copy, or share detected files.
    • $false blocks all actions except Delete and Download. People can choose to accept the risk and download a detected file.
  7. Allow up to 30 minutes for your changes to spread to all Microsoft 365 datacenters.

For detailed instructions for configuring Safe Attachments policies and global settings for Safe Attachments, see the following topics:

For more information about the recommended settings for Safe Links, see Safe Links settings.

  1. Open the Safe Links page in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com/safelinksv2, and then click Create icon..

  2. In the Create Safe Links policy wizard that opens, configure the following settings:

    • Name your policy page:
      • Name: Enter something unique and descriptive.
      • Description: Enter an optional description.
    • Users and domains page: Because this is your first policy and you likely want to maximize coverage, consider entering your accepted domains in the Domains box. Otherwise, you can use the Users and Groups boxes for more granular control. You can specify exceptions by selecting Exclude these users, groups, and domains and entering values.
    • Url & click protection settings page:
      • Action on potentially malicious URLs within Emails section:
        • On: Safe Links checks a list of known, malicious links when users click links in email: Select his setting (turn on).
        • Apply Safe Links to email messages sent within the organization: Select this setting (turn on).
        • Apply real-time URL scanning for suspicious links and links that point to files: Select this setting (turn on).
          • Wait for URL scanning to complete before delivering the message: Select this setting (turn on).
        • Do not rewrite URLs, do checks via Safe Links API only: Verify this setting is not selected (turn off).
      • Do not rewrite the following URLs in email: We have no specific recommendation for this setting. For more information, see "Do not rewrite the following URLs" lists in Safe Links policies.
      • Action for potentially malicious URLs in Microsoft Teams section:
        • *On: Safe Links checks a list of known, malicious links when users click links in Microsoft Teams: Select this setting (turn on).
      • Click protection settings section:
        • Track user clicks: Verify this setting is selected (turned on).
          • Let users click through to the original URL: Turn off this setting (not selected).
          • Display the organization branding on notification and warning pages: Selecting this setting (turning it on) is meaningful only after you've followed the instructions in Customize the Microsoft 365 theme for your organization to upload your company logo.
    • Notification page:
      • How would you like to notify users? section: Optionally, you can select Use custom notification text to enter customized notification text to use. You can also select Use Microsoft Translator for automatic localization to translate the custom notification text into the user's language. Otherwise, leave Use the default notification text selected.
  3. When you're finished, click Submit, and then click Done.

For detailed instructions for configuring Safe Links policies and global settings for Safe Links, see Set up Safe Links policies in Microsoft Defender for Office 365.

Now set up alerts for detected files in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business

To receive notification when a file in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business has been identified as malicious, you can set up an alert as described in this section.

  1. In the Microsoft 365 Defender portal at https://security.microsoft.com, go to Email & collaboration > Polices & rules > Alert policy.

  2. On the Alert policy page, click New alert policy.

  3. The New alert policy wizard opens. On the Name page, configure the following settings:

    • Name: Enter a unique and descriptive name. For example, you could type Malicious Files in Libraries.
    • Description: Enter an optional description.
    • Severity: Select Low, Medium or High.
    • Category: Select Threat management.

    When you're finished, click Next

  4. On the Create alert settings page, configure the following settings:

    • What do you want to alert on? section: Activity is > Detected malware in file.
    • How do you want the alert to be triggered section: Verify Every time an activity matches the rule is selected.

    When you're finished, click Next

  5. On the Set your recipients page, configure the following settings:

    • Send email notifications: Verify this setting is selected.
    • Email recipients: Select one or more global administrators, security administrators, or security readers who should receive notification when a malicious file is detected.
    • Daily notification limit: Verify No limit is selected.

    When you're finished, click Next

  6. On the Review your settings page, review your settings, verify Yes, turn it on right away is selected, and then click Finish

To learn more about alert policies, see Alert policies in the Microsoft Purview compliance portal.

Post-setup tasks and next steps

After configuring the threat protection features, make sure to monitor how those features are working! Review and revise your policies so that they do what you need them to. Also, watch for new features and service updates that can add value.

What to do Resources to learn more
See how threat protection features are working for your organization by viewing reports Email security reports

Reports for Microsoft Defender for Office 365

Threat Explorer

Periodically review and revise your threat protection policies as needed Secure Score

Microsoft 365 threat investigation and response features

Watch for new features and service updates Standard and Targeted release options

Message Center

Microsoft 365 Roadmap

Service Descriptions