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Microsoft Beefs Up Exchange Online Protection

Microsoft announced improvements to its Exchange Online Protection service this week.

The improvements appear to have been added sometime over the last year, but the Exchange team only now seems to be talking about them. The following Exchange Online Protection improvements were described in Microsoft's announcement on Thursday, although some may still be at the rollout phase:

  • Directory-based edge blocking
  • Increased Office 365 domain limit
  • Message Trace extended for 90 days
  • Enhanced mail protection reporting
  • Remote PowerShell
  • Junk mail reporting for OWA

Directory-based edge blocking allows IT pros to block e-mail coming from addresses not listed in Windows Azure Active Directory.

The increased domain limit for Office 365 bumps up the number of domains per Office 365 tenant to 900 domains. It's a 50 percent increase from the previous 600-domains limit. This improvement takes effect automatically and doesn't require any action by IT pros.

Message trace information is now available for search over the past 90 days. However, IT pros have to use the Exchange Admin Center and put in a request to get trace messages older than the past seven days. IT pros can enter various search criteria, such as "date range, sender, recipient, status, message ID, and sender client IP address," according to Microsoft's announcement. Microsoft estimates that the trace requests get "processed within hours."

Enhanced mail protection reporting will put interactive charts into the hands of IT pros. The charts can be used to visualize events such as spam detection over time. Clicking a point on a chart will bring up the details in table format. This service will provide data for the past 90 days. Data older than the past seven days isn't shown directly; instead, IT pros must download a report to view the charts.

The Remote PowerShell capability lets IT pros manage the settings of the Exchange Online Protection service through PowerShell scripting. They can modify the service's transport rules and connectors or change the filter settings for spam and antimalware. The ability to manage users and groups will be "coming soon," according to Microsoft's announcement. It's not clear if the remote PowerShell capability is available to all subscribers now since the announcement explains that Microsoft is "currently deploying" it.

Junk mail reporting for Outlook Web App (OWA) is a feature for end users that will let them tag junk mail.

In addition, Microsoft is planning further improvements that will be unveiled around the time of the Microsoft Exchange Conference, which kicks off April 1. Those improvements will include "end user access to quarantine, enhanced support for IPv6, Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) and match subdomains," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Exchange Online Protection is the successor product to Forefront Online Protection for Exchange. The new product got its debut after Microsoft announced a major restructuring effort that affected its Forefront enterprise security product line. At the time, Microsoft described Exchange Online Protection as mostly a name change, rather than a new service.

Microsoft first started moving its customers over to the new Exchange Online Protection service late last year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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