RyanTech Blog

News and Insights

How Hackers Can Gain Access to Your Office 365 Account

As the world continues to move more into the digital space and businesses move more data into the Cloud, hackers are finding more creative and sophisticated ways to gain access to Office 365 accounts in lock-step. I think we all know someone, personally or professionally, who has been hacked in one way or another and sensitive data potentially stolen. It's extremely important to know how hackers can gain access to Office 365 accounts to help prevent this from happening as the consequences can be detrimental to your business.

There are multiple ways a hacker can gain access, but there are only a few that work really well. Bad actors continue to try to trick users into handing credentials over to them, so it's important to know how they are doing this. Here are some of the most common ways for them:


This is by far the most common way for a bad actor to gain credentials. Typically, this will come in the form of some kind of trickery where the hacker is trying to make the user think they are handing something over to a trusted source or opening an attachment that may look real. This can either be an email from Microsoft asking the user to login for a certain reason or an email from your "CEO," a trusted colleague asking for information that can be useful for the hacker or a someone asking you to view an attachment attached to the email.

There are certain things that the user can look out for to recognize a phishing attempt and stop it in its tracks.

  1. Sender's e-mail address - Always look at the actual email address that the email is coming from, not the name of the sender. Email accounts can be set up with a name from someone in your company or Microsoft, but unless they have breached that actual account, the email address is completely different and noticeably bogus. If the email address is legit, then it is best to always confirm with that person, because it's always possible their account was hacked.
  2. Suspicious language - Phishing email consistently have a reputation of using weird or suspicious language within the email. Often the hacker is from out of the US and the language in the written email will expose that. If it doesn't sound like the way a colleague or business in the US would speak, it might be worth looking into.
  3. Unusual requests - Users within a business typically know what will be asked of them within a work day and from who. If an email comes through with a request from someone that seems weird or wouldn't normally ask something of you, it might be something to dig further into before handing anything over.
  4. Never open links/attachments from an unknown sender - Attachments and links in emails like this can be malicious and simply hand over sensitive information once opened.
​Here are a few examples of what a phishing email could look like:



Password Harvesting/Guessing

Yes, hackers can guess passwords and it's another very common way a hacker can gain access to an Office 365 account. Extreme importance needs to be placed on password creation to combat this. In today's world, this goes without saying since we have passwords for everything under the sun, but they should be a mix of letters, numbers and symbols as to make it hard to guess. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, a hacker who gains access to one of your accounts can then try to use that same password to gain access to your Office 365 account, so it's crucial to create different passwords for your most sensitive accounts, especially a business account.

Hackers can also guess a simplistic passwords using a "brute-forced" method. This is where they use applications with dictionary lists and variations that will easily find a password if not complicated enough.

Wi-Fi Breach

This is not as common but does happen fairly often. Hackers have ways of gaining access to your Wi-Fi signal which gives them a window into what is being done and inputted on your devices. Password strength for your Wi-Fi is key, as well as network security features such as firewalls, etc., and can help prevent something like this from happening.

​Although these are some of the most common ways a hacker can gain access to your Office 365 account, they are not the only ways. It's always smart to be cautious and diligent if you suspect something to be atypical. RyanTech is here for you every step of the way as we see breached account more often than we'd like and we have great experience in what to look for as well as how to fix it. Reach out to us if you would like to learn more, or if you think your account might have been breached (hopefully not!).

For preventing unwanted access to accounts, we recommend looking at Cloud Protect to detect breaches and have our team of security experts review your account alerts: ryantechinc.com/landing/cloud-protect

Recent Posts

We Speak Cloud

Our dedication is to the cause of truly helping our customer's business flourish by fine-tuning their own business operations.

Request a Free Evaluation