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Safe Links and Safe Attachments

Microsoft offers advanced threat protection tools to help users protect themselves against phishing attempts and malicious links. Safe Links and Safe Attachments security features are in place at the University of Ottawa to offer an additional safety net.

These features are applied to your account automatically. They help safeguard against threats in attachments and links in documents but be alert! Hackers continue to change their algorithms and increase the sophistication of their attacks, so it is important to remain vigilant and follow best practices.  

Groups that do not have the Microsoft licenses with these security features and who are not protected by Safe Links and Safe Attachments are: uOttawa affiliates, alumni, emeritus professors, clinicians, and some Saint Paul University members.  

If you believe you have received a phishing attempt, use the Report message. If you’re not sure where a link will lead, STOP

Contact the Service Desk if you have any questions, need assistance with Safe Links or Safe Attachments, or are a victim of a phishing attempt. 

Safe Links

When an email is sent, it gets checked by various anti-spam and anti-malware filters. 

  • You then get it in your Inbox and can open it. 
  • When you click on a link, Safe Links immediately checks it. 
  • You can recognize when a link has been filtered by Safe Links by its format. Hover over the link. It will start with: https://can01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com.
  • Once Safe Links has rewritten a URL, if your forward or reply to the message, the URL will remain rewritten. 
  • If your link is in a plain text e-mail, it will rewrite the URL in plain text. You will see the rewritten URL directly in the body of the e-mail.  
  • It may take a few moments before the scan is finished, please be patient.  
  • Safe content is made available, and you can open the website. 
  • If it is malicious, you will get a warning. 
  • If the tool is unable to determine the safety of the content, it will indicate that it might be malicious content and you will be asked if you want to still want to continue to the destination.

Safe Attachments

This security tool protects you from malicious content that may reside in attachments that are sent to you. These files can be of various formats such as Word, Excel, MS Office documents, PDFs, executable files. An automated scan is performed of attachments in Outlook and Office 365 apps. If the file is safe, it will appear in your INBOX. Malicious attachments however will be blocked and quarantined. You will receive the original email with notification that the attachment was blocked.  

You may experience a small delay in receiving an email that has a large attachment since it will take longer for the scan to finish. 

Safe Attachments works on internal and external emails. It does not work on encrypted emails or attachments, nor does it work on password-protected attachments. Therefore, ensure you are expecting an email from the sender before opening these non-protected attachments.  

This is an automated service provided by Microsoft. No one goes through your emails or attachments for the scan to be performed. Safe Attachments does not scan the files on your computer’s drive, shared drives, etc.