HTML email for internal mesages and Text only for External?

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tommybird

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2010 32 bit
Email Account
Exchange Server
Maybe this should go in the wishlist category, but I'm looking for feedback here first.

Background:

Historically, we've always set email as plain text only to protect our users from viruses and other bad stuff. This was a hard policy which blocked html completely. With Outlook 2010, we set emails to text by default but instead of blocking HTML completely we allow folks to click and switch to HTML view.

The balancing act between pretty looking emails and security always seems to get a lot of very opinionated folks on both sides of the issue when we discuss it.

Folks don't really care if external email they receive displays as HTML or not. Though they really want to to be able to use bullets and colors in internal emails.

As far as I can tell it is all or nothing.

One thing I noticed in Trust Center is a check box that says enables plain text for digitally signed messages along with a another checkbox for all standard messages to be plain text.

This implied to me that if we implemented digital signatures and unchecked plain text digital signatures box, that our internal emails would be HTML viewable (signed) and standard messages would be plain text. Though when I got an email certificate and installed it on my system, it didn't work that way. Outlook would show the signed message in plain text unless I uncheck the box that says all standard emails should be plain text.

What do you do in your environment? If you use HTML are you securing Outlook via any special policies or are you just accepting the risk?

Is it crazy to think it should be so simple to specify via group policy that all messages from @specificcompany.com are HTML by default and everything else is text by default? I don't feel like it is an unreasonable request and I'm surprised no one else is asking for this capability.
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
As an FYI, HTML mail viewed in Outlook is safe - Outlook will not run active content - scripts, ActiveX etc are dead unless the user opens it using View in Browser. Tricking users into opening attachments or following inks (or using View in browser) is the only way to infect them. FWIW, reading pane is safe to use, ever so slightly safer than an open message.

I know a lot of people would like to be able to use rules or policy or something to set some messages to plain text, others in HTML rather than the all or nothing we currently have, but its not possible at this time.

We don't do anything special, other than server-side antivirus to remove most of the bad junk. If you can't trust users, I would disable view in browser using GPO and maybe block more attachment types (like zip), although in all honesty, when they use view in browser both antivirus and browser security takes over and is likely to block bad scripts - well, except for the really, really new exploits.
 
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