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5 Ways the Office 365 Spam Filter is Wasting IT Time

By December 23, 2015June 17th, 2017Blog

When you buy a car, the manufacturer doesn’t build features such as the navigation system or the audio system. They leave that to companies that specialize in those components. However, when it comes to email systems, we often look to solutions that handle email delivery and try to protect against spam. While these products do a sufficient job sending and receiving email messages, they usually don’t hold up when it comes to spam filtering. Take the Office 365 Exchange spam filter as a perfect example of this. Businesses all over the world rely on its email capabilities of Office 365, however they turn to specialized solutions when it comes to stopping email threats because many know that relying solely on the Office 365 spam filter is a waste of your IT department’s time.

Complicated and convoluted

If you look at how to configure the Office 365 Exchange spam filter, it can be intimidating to someone who is not an expert in email terminology. For large companies that have dedicated email teams, this may not be too much trouble. However, for companies where the IT department cannot afford to specialize in one particular technology, this can spell trouble. Unless you understand email headers, you will find yourself performing quite a bit of trial and error when it comes to stopping spam and having legitimate messages delivered every time.

Content filters are not reliable

If you read the advanced guide for the Office 365 Exchange spam filter, you will see that a recommended setting of 5 or 6 is considered spam. They refer to this as the spam confidence level that is assigned based on the message content. Time and time again, it has been shown that relying on technologies like content filtering and Bayesian filtering results in spam message overload, while at the same time legitimate messages run the risk of being mistakenly identified as spam.

There are guides on how to beat spam filters

You don’t need to troll the corners of the dark web to find out how to bypass a spam filter; simply look at any email marketing website and they will tell you exactly how to beat low level spam filtering technology. Marketing folks don’t want their emails to be blocked, so they invest a lot of time learning how to craft messages that aren’t flagged by content filters. Spammers use these same techniques.

Blocking bulk email is not effective

Another setting in the Office 365 Exchange spam filter that customers rely on is the bulk email setting. The theory is that if you block emails sent in bulk, you are cutting back on the amount of spam because spammers send tens of thousands of emails at once. The problem is, legitimate emails are sent in bulk as well so recipients may miss out on important information. Another issue is that spammers can easily throttle their delivery or send from a variety of domains to mask a bulk email campaign.

The end-user is not part of the solution

Technologies are great at filtering out known threats that rely on known patterns of behavior, but spammers break from these patterns. Humans can recognize illicit emails and senders and if their spam filter includes their input, it helps keep spam at bay. The Office 365 spam filter allows users to move messages out of the junk folder, but users should be able to help identify illicit messages, senders and domains before hitting their inbox while also building a list of trusted senders to avoid false positives.

Office 365 Exchange is a great email solution, but it needs some assistance when it comes to keeping the inbox free from spam and phishing attacks. If your organization needs a solution that focuses on email security, and is not distracted from that task, check out how Sendio’s Email Security Gateway and Opt-Inbox solutions can help.