Connecting Technology and Business.

Email Safety Tips in Office 365

Today’s spam and malware attacks are sometimes so well-crafted they may look legitimate to users, and putting messages into the Junk Email folder isn’t enough. Microsoft has been rolling out Safety Tips in Exchange Online Protection, an additional layer of protection for all users that provides a warning to the user in an email that is marked suspicious, or a reassurance when a message is safe.

When a message includes a safety tip, the tip will be displayed in a messaging bar at the top of the email in one of four color-coded categories indicating that the message is either Suspicious, Unknown, Trusted or Safe.

  • Messages marked Suspicious have a red safety tip and are either a known phishing message, have failed sender authentication, are a suspected spoofing message or have met some other criteria that Exchange Online Protection has used to determine the message is fraudulent. You should not interact with suspicious messages and instead should delete them.


  • A yellow bar at the top of the message indicates an Unknown safety level. Being marked as Unknown indicates that Exchange Online Protection has marked the message as spam. You can click the It’s not spam link in the yellow bar of a junk mail item to move the message to your inbox.


  • Messages from a Trusted sender display a green bar at the top of the message. These are from domains identified by Microsoft as being safe.


  • Messages marked with a gray safety tip indicates that the email was not filtered for spam because it is either considered Safe by the user’s organization, is on the user’s safe senders list or Exchange Online Protection marked the message as junk but the user moved it out of the junk folder to the inbox. The gray safety bar also appears when images within the message have been disabled.


All four types of Safety Tips are included in the Outlook on the web experience, whereas Outlook clients, whether desktop or mobile, will display only the Suspicious safety tip. Most messages in your inbox will not have a safety tip; we only add them when we have information users need.

How does Microsoft determine which Safety Tip to apply?

As an industry-leading solution for securing your email, Exchange Online Protection analyzes data patterns across millions of emails to identify spam, malware and phishing threats. Based on this ongoing analysis, Exchange Online Protection is able to identify suspicious messages and apply the appropriate Safety Tip.

Users can also report misclassified messages back to Microsoft for analysis. They will take these samples and use them to make user experience better.

Safety Tips are an important tool in combating phishing scams and online fraud. With this new functionality, Office 365 automatically provides an additional layer of protection for all its users. Microsoft will continue to enrich the Safety Tips feature to ensure their users have the best experience.

- Gleaned from Office Blogs

MAXImise productivity & MINImise confusion - Use MAXIFS and MINIFS

If you’re familiar with statistical functions like COUNTIFS, SUMIFS and AVERAGEIFS, then MAXIFS and MINIFS don’t need much explanation.

The classic MAX and MIN functions calculate the maximum or minimum value in a range, but what if you need to apply conditions to filter your data? This is precisely what MAXIFS and MINIFS allow.

Now you can apply conditions and filter data before calculating with MAXIFS and MINIFS in Excel.

The MAXIFS and MINIFS functions are available if you are an Office 365 subscriber and have the latest version of Office installed on your PC. It is also available in Excel Online and in Excel Mobile or Excel for Android phones and tablets.


You can specify one or more conditions that filter the data before calculating the max or min. The conditions can be applied to adjacent ranges or the range that contains the values. For example, let’s say a retailer has a table containing sales data for all their stores. They can use the MAXIFS and MINIFS functions to calculate the maximum and minimum sales figure for a specified item in stores located in a specified region.


The MAXIFS function returns the maximum value among cells specified by a given set of conditions or criteria.


Here is the Syntax:


MAXIFS(max_range, criteria_range1, criteria1, [criteria_range2, criteria2], ...)


The MINIFS function returns the minimum value among cells specified by a given set of conditions or criteria.


Here is the Syntax:


MINIFS(min_range, criteria_range1, criteria1, [criteria_range2, criteria2], ...)


The size and shape of the max_range and criteria_range arguments must be the same, otherwise these functions return the #VALUE! error.


In the example shown below, MINIFS and MAXIFS are used to calculate the min and max sales figures from the table, but it only includes values from the Sales column if the value in the Retailer column is “BigMart,” the value in the Brand column is “Longlast” and the value in the Sales column is greater than zero.



Bewildered with nested IFs? Try the new IFS

The logical function IFS is available if you are an Office 365 subscriber and have the latest version of Office installed on your PC or you are using Excel Online. It is also available in Excel Mobile and in Excel for Android phones and tablets.


The IF function is one of the most commonly used logical functions in Excel, and using IF inside IF (nested IF functions) has been a common practice in Excel, but it can be challenging or confusing at times.


Here is an example of cluttered/ nested Ifs:



The new IFS function help specify a series of conditions. IFS gives you an alternative to using a series of nested IF functions, when you have more than one condition that you want to test to find a corresponding result. The IFS function checks whether one or more conditions are met and returns a value that corresponds to the first TRUE condition.


The advantage of using the new IFS functions is that you can specify a series of conditions in a single function. Each condition is followed by the result that will be used if the condition is true—making it very straightforward to create and read the formula afterward.


Here is the syntax:


IFS(logical_test1, value_if_true1, [logical_test2, value_if_true2], [logical_test3, value_if_true3],…)


Because Excel functions are limited to 254 parameters, you can use up to 127 pairs of condition and result arguments in this IFS function.


For example, let’s say you want to get the grade letter for a given score on a test. Using the IFS function, it might be something like this:


=IFS(C1>=90, “A”, C1>=80, “B”, C1>= 70, “C”, C1>=60, “D”, C1<60, “Fail”)



This can be read as, if the grade in C1 is greater than or equal to 90, it’s an A. Otherwise, if it’s greater than or equal to 80, it’s a B. Otherwise, if it’s greater than or equal to 70, it’s a C and so on. It’s pretty easy to write it this way and it’s also straightforward to read and understand what’s going on.



The SWITCH function is also a powerful logical function and can handle multiple conditions. What makes it different is that rather than specifying a series of conditional statements, you specify an expression and a series of values and results. The values are compared to the expression, and when the first exact match is found, the corresponding result is applied to the cell. You can also specify a “default” result that will be returned if none of the values are an exact match for the expression. The advantage of the SWITCH function is that you can avoid repeating the expression over and over, which sometimes happens in nested IF formulas.


In the example below, the first part of the formula extracts the size code (i.e. XS, M and G) from the middle of the item in column B. It’s rather long, so it’s nice that SWITCH only needs it to be written once and it can be compared to a list of values.


The example below can be explained as:

 Extract the size code from the item in column B. If it equals “XS”, the result is “Extra Small.” Otherwise, if it equals “S”, the result is “Small” and so on. If there’s no match, the result is “Not Specified.”



Again, because Excel functions are limited to 254 arguments, you can use up to 126 pairs of value and result arguments in this SWITCH function.

Forget CONCATENATE and the Clutter

Combining text strings has become easier using TEXTJOIN in Excel 2016 of Office 365 ProPlus and is available for subscribers right-away. (You must have the latest version of Office installed in your PC). This is also available for users using Excel Online, Excel Mobile and Excel for Android phones and tablets.


A very common task for users in spreadsheets is to combine text strings, but until now, if you wanted to join text strings from a range of cells, you had to specify each cell individually. The new TEXTJOIN functions let you combine text strings from ranges of cells with or without using a delimiter, such as a comma separating each item. You can simply refer to the range and specify the delimiter once and let Excel do all the heavy lifting. If the delimiter is an empty text string, this function will effectively concatenate the ranges.


The old-fashioned way:

 =CONCATENATE(A3, “, “, B3, “, “, C3,”, “, D3, “, “, E3)


The new way to join text strings using TEXTJOIN:

 =TEXTJOIN(“, “, TRUE, A3:E3)


TEXTJOIN has three arguments – (1) the delimiter to be used, (2) whether to ignore empty cells and (3) the range in which the text strings are located.


So, you simply specify the comma (or whatever separator you want), choose whether to ignore empty cells (True) or include empty cells (False) and then specify the range. If a number is supplied, it will be treated as text.


For example, =TEXTJOIN(" ",TRUE, "The", "sun", "will", "come", "up", "tomorrow.") will return The sun will come up tomorrow.


There can be a maximum of 252 text arguments for the text items, including the first text. Each can be a text string, or array of strings, such as a range of cells. If the resulting string exceeds 32767 characters (cell limit), TEXTJOIN returns the #VALUE! error.


Here is another example:


Let’s say you just want to join the parts of an address into a single text string. The old way would require you to specify each cell and repeat a comma that separates each part:



The new way is much simpler.





There is also a similar and improved function CONCAT. This CONCAT replaces the CONCATENATE function though the CONCATENATE function will still be available for backward compatibility.


The CONCAT function combines the text from multiple ranges and/or strings, but it doesn't provide the delimiter or Ignore Empty arguments.


For Example, =CONCAT("The"," ","sun"," ","will"," ","come"," ","up"," ","tomorrow.") will return The sun will come up tomorrow.


There can be a maximum of 253 text arguments for the text items. Each can be a string, or array of strings, such as a range of cells. If the resulting string exceeds 32767 characters (cell limit), CONCAT returns the #VALUE! error.

Go beyond Passwords - Use an Additional Factor for Authentication

Multi Factor Authentication helps secure user sign-ins for cloud services beyond just a single password. The security of multi-factor authentication lies in its layered approach.

  • Compromising multiple authentication factors presents a significant challenge for attackers.

  • Even if an attacker manages to learn the user's password, it is useless without also having possession of the trusted device.

  • Should the user lose the device, the person who finds it won't be able to use it unless he or she also knows the user's password.

Mult-Factor Authentication overview

Office 365 uses multi-factor authentication to help provide the extra security and is managed from the Office 365 admin center.


Office 365 offers the following subset of Azure multi-factor authentication capabilities as a part of the subscription:

  • The ability to enable and enforce multi-factor authentication for end users

  • The use of a mobile app (online and one-time password) as a second authentication factor

  • The use of a phone call as a second authentication factor

  • The use of a Short Message Service (SMS) message as a second authentication factor

  • Application passwords for non-browser clients

  • Default Microsoft greetings during authentication phone calls

Feature comparison of versions

A form of multi-factor authentication is included with Office 365, but Enterprises can also purchase Azure Multi-Factor authentication that includes extended functionality.


The following table below provides a list of the features that are available in the various versions of Azure Multi-Factor Authentication.


O365 MFA

Azure MFA

Administrators can protect accounts with MFA

Mobile app as a second factor

Phone call as a second factor

SMS as a second factor

App passwords for clients that don't support MFA

Admin control over authentication methods


PIN mode


Fraud alert


MFA Reports


One-Time Bypass


Custom greetings for phone calls


Customization of caller ID for phone calls


Event Confirmation


Trusted IPs


Suspend MFA for remembered devices (Public Preview)




MFA for on-premises apps using MFA server