New templated email policies


If you dip into your Microsoft 365 Security and Compliance Center, then into Threat Management and then into Policy as shown above you might some new Templated policies.


This will allow to select from two ‘best practices’ policies for your email protection from Microsoft. There is a standard and a Strict protection option.

You’ll find details about these here:

Preset security policies in EOP and Office 365 ATP

and if you want to know the low level settings that use you can find that here:

Recommended settings for EOP and Office 365 ATP

At the moment they are not enabled by default, but I can see the day when at the least the Standard template will be applied to all new tenants.

Of course, these are just a starting point for securing your email environment in but I certainly recommend that you do start with these templates because they apply a lot of best practices quickly and easily. They also configure not just Exchange Online but also Office 365 Advanced Threat protection (ATP) if that is part of the tenant.

New Office 365 Safe Attachment options


I was updating my security scripts for Office 365 ATP and when I ran it I noticed an option not set, which I highlight in red in my scripts to draw attention to it.


I then went and took a look at the Safe Attachments options in my web console, as shown above. I didn’t see any differences there.


However, when I visited another tenant, as shown above, I do indeed see a new section as shown. You’ll note however that:

Only available with Microsoft 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 Security license

Thus, if you have the required license there is now a Safe Documents feature that you can enable in the organisation. Once enabled it will:

“will upload user files to Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (MDATP) for scanning and verification”

You can read more here:

Safe Documents in Office 365 ATP


You won’t be able to enable it via PowerShell either, unless you have the appropriate license as shown above.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 231

FAQ podcasts are shorter and more focused on a particular topic. In this episode I’ll talk about the different Advanced Threat protection (ATP) offerings that Microsoft has.

This episode was recorded using Microsoft Teams and produced with Camtasia 2019

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.


Office 365 ATP

Defender ATP

Azure ATP

New Safe Links option

An eagled eye CIAOPS Patron spotted this new option in Office 365 ATP Safe Links:


Wait for URL scanning to complete before delivering the message


You get to this via the Security and Compliance Centre, Threat Management, Policy, Safe Links. You then select the lower policy option as shown above.

I had a look at the PowerShell for this policy:


Indeed, there is now an option:


as shown above.

Interestingly, there is no mention of this option yet in the:


documentation. So I thought I’d try adding it to the existing policy anyway.


No error, which is a good sign.


Checking back in the GUI, you can now see that option is set.

So, there is now a nice new shiny option that you can set Office 365 ATP Safe Links to prevent a message being delivered to an end user until the links have been fully checked. This now matches the policy option for safe attachments. You can also set this option via PowerShell.

How I protect my parents using Microsoft 365


I’m sure there are many of us out there that continue to provide free unpaid support for our family members. Well, many it isn’t so much free, as a ‘barter’ arrangement in that every time I’m on site I get fed. That type of compensation may of course vary in your particular situation but many IT Pros are expected to support our own family as they use technology. That can be extremely challenging if you don’t do it right. Thanks to the tools available in the Microsoft Cloud, you can quite easily!

One of the benefit of doing security right for your family is that it is going to drastically reduce the amount of support calls you receive. So here’s some of the stuff I do:

1. Everyone has Microsoft 365 Business

This one license ensures that they have commercial grade email and the latest version of Office on their desktops. It ensures that they have both Safe Links and Safe Attachments for their mailboxes to protect against inbound malware and viruses.

2. Everyone runs the latest version of Windows 10 Professional on their desktop

Windows Home has lots of limitations and does not allow connection to Azure AD. Thus, all machines are Windows 10 Professional and all machines update automatically.

3. All machines are joined to Azure AD

I don’t want to have a traditional on premises domain controller to manage these Window 10 machine. By joining all the Windows 10 Professional workstations directly to Azure AD I get the management, security and control that I want all from the cloud.

4. All machines have Intune compliance and configuration policies applied


Thanks to Intune, which is part of Microsoft 365 Business, at a glance I can ensure all the machines, including my own, are compliant and configured appropriately.

5. All machines only use Windows Defender as their AV

Windows Defender is the best solution for AV in my experience. I can manage many settings thanks to Intune, although I would like some more I would admit, but I have never had an viruses or malware issues wince ditching third party AV providers a number of years ago. I am considering potentially upgrading to Windows Defender ATP but it is probably not worth the investment given the other steps I am already taking.

6. All machines are covered by Azure AD Premium P1

Azure AD Premium P1 is an add on to Microsoft 365 Business but has a number of very, very handy security features that I use to keep everyone safe.

7. Conditional access is limiting access to devices via IP address

One of the features that Azure AD Premium P1 provides is the ability to set conditional access policies. I have restricted access to my parents logins to be ONLY available on two unique IP addresses, theirs and mine. This means that if they were phished and gave up their logins a remote user would be prevented from logging in thanks to these conditional access policies as they are not connecting from these allowed IP addresses.

In my own personal cases, I also use conditional access policies but I have them set a little broader, typically limited to allowing access just from Australia. If I travel, I need to temporarily adjust the policy to accommodate where I’ll be and then set it back to just Australia when I return.

8. All POP and IMAP access has been disabled to all mailboxes


The most common way that random bad actors on the Internet are trying to gain access to accounts is using IMAP and POP3 as you can see from a recent log above. Conversely, all Microsoft 365 mailboxes have both POP3 and IMAP enabled for all mailboxes by default unfortunately. No user needs to access mail via old protocols and thus it is disabled across the tenant.

9. Basic authentication has been disabled on the tenant

Because I have modern devices and software connecting to my information, as I have said before:

Disable basic auth to improve Office 365 security

‘nuff said.

10. All accounts have Multi Factor enabled

All accounts have the requirement for MFA on them. Now, my parents don’t have smart phones or devices other than their PC’s, so how do they access their accounts using MFA? Well, they actually don’t! See item 11 as to how I achieve this.

11. Trusted IPs have been enabled

Once again, thanks to magic of Azure AD Premium P1, I am able to implement Trusted IPs. This means that when a login request comes from a configured Trusted IP the user will not be prompted for MFA even if the account requires it. Thus, thanks to the locations I have already set up with Conditional Access I can also use these same IP addresses to configure Trusted IPs for my parents logins. This means, that their accounts ARE protected by MFA but since they are always logging in from a single IP address that is now trusted, they WON’T be asked for MFA. This, makes it easy on them and hard on the bad guys.

12. I have Office 365 Cloud App Discovery

Again, thanks to the wonders of Azure AD P1 I have Cloud App Discovery which enables me a far more granular logging of events in my tenant. I can see exactly what my parents are actually doing.

I’ve talked about the benefits of Cloud App Security before:

A great security add on for Microsoft 365

and recommend you have it.

13. All machines use password-less Windows Hello logins

All the machines are using Windows Hello, either biometric or a PIN to access the machines. No complex passwords to remember, just a simple PIN number or just sitting in front of the machine now gives my parents access to their desktops. It couldn’t be easier and yet secure.

There are a lot more actions I take on my production tenant to ensure it is secure but the above items are the ones that most affect and protect my parents and their information. As you can see, via the implementation of Microsoft Cloud technologies I have made it both super secure and super easy for them. In most cases they don’t even realise what I’ve done, and that’s the way it should be.

Now, if I can do this for my parents, why are you not doing the same for your business users? Eh?

Need to Know podcast–Episode 204

I’m back from MVP Summit and we have a huge amount of news to cover off in this episode. You’ll hear about the latest in Office 365 ATP, Windows Virtual Desktop, the new Microsoft Edge Browser and so much more. So much in fact that we had to hold a lot of material off until our next episode. However, don’t fear, you’ll get the most important stuff right here, so tune in and let us know what you think.

Podcast recording done using Microsoft Teams

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.




CIAOPS Patron Program

New Edge Browser –

Shared Computer Access comes to M365 Business –

New Office 365 ATP licenses –

Office 365 ATP Automated response –

Window Virtual Desktop now in public preview –

Getting Started with Windows Virtual Desktop –

25% of Phishing email bypass Office 365 default security –

Your approach to Office 365 needs to change –

Example of Office 365 ATP Safe Links in action


The above is a very typical example of a phishing email. You’ll notice when you mouse over the link in the email it wants to re-directed you to a non-descript and malicious (non-Office 365) link.


Now, because I’ve configured Office 365 ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) Safe Links in my tenant, when I do click that link in the email I am taken to the above page that warns me that this is bad.


Because I have configured my own Office 365 ATP Safe Links to allow click past this warning just for myself, if I continue on to the ultimate destination page, I see something that looks like a very convincing default Office 365 login page, with my email address already filled in. The idea is, I type my password, thinking this is legitimate and then bingo, I’m phished.

You will also notice that the ultimate URL is also different from the one in the initial email. An attempt to hide the attack using redirection.


So let’s see how effective Office 365 ATP Safe Links is at detecting these kinds of attacks compared to other vendors.

If I plug the initial URL, that was contained in the email, into I see the above report. None, yes that is zero, of the third party AV providers have detected this initial link to be a malicious link as yet. Not even Google Safebrowsing! Of course, Office 365 ATP did detect it as malicious if you are keeping score.


If I now plug in the ultimate destination URL of the attack I do see some confirmation from other vendors that the site is malicious. However, only 2 of 69 vendors (i.e. only about 3%) also rate that link as malicious.

So Office 365 ATP Safe Links was able to identify this link as malicious and potentially block user access (with appropriate configuration). Few other vendors have yet even detected it to be an issue at this stage. That makes Office 365 ATP quite pro-active.

We all know that there are no absolutes in security and no system is ever perfect. However, given the size of the signals coming into Office 365 in regards to threats, their ability to provide early warning is as good or if not better that anything else out there on the market today in my opinion. This is why I recommend Office 365 ATP as a ‘must have’ for all Office 365 tenants. If you have Microsoft 365 Business today, you already have Office 365 ATP. So make sure it is correctly configured and you should feel much more comfortable about the reduced risk you face from phishing.

Looks like Office 365 ATP is splitting in two

Seen some chatter here in Australia about there now being two Office 365 ATP SKUs (it appeared on a pricing sheet). Everything I could find suggested that this was not the case, however a US contact pointed out to me the following web site:

That clearly shows 2 x Office 365 ATP SKUs.


There is not as yet an equivalent AU page.

The main things that Plan 2 adds according to that page are:


Even the services descriptions for Office 365 ATP here:

don’t talk about there being two plans. Thus, I (and others) are somewhat confused as to which version will be included in suites like Microsoft 365 Business. My guess is that most plans that have Office 365 ATP will get Plan 1, with Plan 2 going for higher end enterprise plans. However, that is all here say for now.

So, it looks like are going to get a new ‘advanced’ Office 365 ATP plan soon (Plan 2) but we are unsure in which suites it will be available. More as it becomes available.