Microsoft expands Office 365 security with Safe Documents

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Users of the Office 365 E5 license will have immediate access to a new security feature called Microsoft Safe Documents. The tech giant announced this on its website.

Earlier this year, Safe Documents already appeared in a closed preview by Microsoft, which made it clear that the feature was an extended version of the already existing Protected View of Office 365. This mode allows files to be viewed but prevents users from making modifications to the document. This is to prevent documents from outside an organisation from exposing a system to malware via a malicious attachment.

The disadvantage of such a feature comes with the practical limitation of not being able to modify a document without entering secure mode. In order to reduce the security risk (if users deactivate the preview mode without thinking), Safe Documents will scan the document instantly to see if it contains malicious components that are featured in an up-to-date database.

Safe Documents will run a file through the database of Microsoft Defender ATP (which also got a new feature this week) and until that scan is completed, it is not possible to remove the file from secure mode. System admins have the possibility to change the option (which is turned off by default) depending on their specific situation.

For now, the feature will only appear to E5 license holders (the most expensive license in Microsoft’s portfolio) and the feature will be available to an entire system. In the future, it should be possible to enable (or disable) the option for different user groups within an organisation.