Microsoft Boosts Security of 365 Priority Accounts

Microsoft this week announced two new features meant to improve the security of priority accounts in Microsoft 365.

The first of the new features is priority account protection, specifically designed for accounts that are common targets in attacks due to their access to sensitive information or to critical tools. These accounts, Microsoft notes, are extremely visible and researchable.

Priority accounts refer to the accounts of the most visible and targeted employees, which require additional protection and increased attention from security teams. Keeping a close eye on these priority accounts can help identify threats early and delivers important threat intelligence signals to boost an organization’s protection.

Priority accounts protection is now available in public preview in Microsoft Defender for Office 365 (previously known as Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection), allowing security teams to leverage the extra protection these accounts need.

Defender for Office 365 now features support for priority accounts as system tags, allowing admins to set filters in alerts, reports, and investigations. Admins can head over to the Security & Compliance Center to configure priority account protection.

Microsoft plans on expanding priority account protection in Defender for Office 365 over the next months, integrating it with the quarantine experience and having all emails targeted at such an account tagged. Accounts on the priority list can be monitored from the Exchange admin center.

“It will also be easy to filter the view to see only malicious emails targeted at priority accounts. Priority accounts will also be integrated with Submission explorer; submissions from any priority account will be tagged and filterable, allowing security teams to focus first on these submissions over others,” the tech company explains.

While priority accounts are available to all Microsoft 365 customers, only Defender for Office 365 Plan 2 customers (including Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5 Security) can leverage priority account protection.

The second feature that Microsoft has rolled out is premium mail flow monitoring, which is meant to ensure a healthy mail flow, which the tech giant says can be a critical requirement for business success.

With the new capability enabled, admins can monitor mail flow for priority accounts, select a desired threshold for failed or delayed emails, and be informed when that threshold has been exceeded. Furthermore, admins can access a report of email issues for priority accounts.

To configure premium mail flow monitoring, administrators can use the Exchange admin center. The feature is available for Office 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E3, Office 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5, and requires more than 10,000 licenses and a minimum of 50 monthly active Exchange Online users.

Related: Microsoft Extending Threat Protection Portfolio, Unifying Security Solutions

Related: New Security Capabilities Announced for Microsoft 365, Azure

Related: Safe Documents Feature in Microsoft 365 Apps Now Generally Available

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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