We’ve recently had several clients come to us asking to remove the external email warning tag on their business’ Microsoft Outlook.  

Our guidance, however, is that tag should be kept as its benefits far outweigh the cons. Let’s run through why.

What is the external email warning tag?

Put simply, external email warnings help alert users about malicious links and phishing emails sent from accounts outside your organisation.  

The external warning tag has been rolled out for both Windows 10 and 11, however, whether you have got the update or not depends on your combination of operating system and your Office version.  

These tags appear as a small ‘[External]’ message in the email subject line, or as a pop-up message before you can see the email body.  

Many of our clients find these warnings ugly or intrusive, yet their purpose is to make you pay extra attention to emails from outside your organisation and to be more aware of any potential malicious content.  

Screenshot of examples of Office external warning tag

Why is the external email warning tag important?

Despite clients being concerned about how their Outlook looks, or getting frustrated by the extra pop ups that appear, the benefits of these tags far outweigh the cons.  

Namely, the majority of email scams begin with messages from outside of your organisation. At an enterprise level, having a clear and prominent deterrent will help reduce scams, as staff are more aware from the outset of the potential phishing attempts and malicious links contained in the email.  

Moreover, external tagging helps prevent individuals and companies from falling into the trap of business email compromise (BEC).  

BEC scams are sophisticated attacks on both businesses and individuals – usually with the intent of conducting unauthorised transfers of funds.  

The majority of BEC attacks come through compromised user accounts. Having external warning tags should reduce compromise through attacks like password sprays, forcing attackers to find and employ new tactics.  

To put it simply, this external tagging helps protect your organisation. 

The cost of business email compromise

In the first half of 2022, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received over 11,000 reports of business email compromise, costing a total of $12.3 million. 

Furthermore, in 2021, the ACCC reported an 84% increase in cyber-attacks compared to the previous year.  

Every year, cyber criminals become more sophisticated and cyber-attacks are here to stay. Fortunately, prevention methods are also becoming more sophisticated and general awareness around these attacks are increasing as well.  

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If you have any questions about external email tags, or how to better protect your business against cyber-attacks, get in contact with Monocera