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Security Risks of Using Microsoft Outlook to Access Google Workspace Mail

In today’s business world, organisations are increasingly adopting cloud-based productivity solutions like Google Workspace to enhance collaboration, efficiency, and security. However, some organisations may still use Microsoft Outlook as an interface to access their Google Workspace Mail accounts. While this approach may seem convenient, it introduces several security risks that can compromise the integrity of your organisation’s data and systems.

Increased Attack Surface

Microsoft Outlook is a complex application with a vast attack surface, making it a prime target for cyberattacks. Attackers can exploit vulnerabilities in Outlook to gain unauthorised access to user accounts, steal sensitive data, or spread malware within the organisation’s network. The more software components involved in accessing sensitive data, the greater the risk of exposure.  It also adds a heavy reliance on the end user to ensure the Outlook application is up to date (which is often not the case). This means vulnerabilities in Outlook can be exploited, a good example of this is the CVE-2023-23397 vulnerability.

Reduced Visibility

When using Outlook to access Google Workspace Mail, Google Workspace administrators have limited visibility into user activity. This lack of oversight makes it difficult to detect and respond to security threats promptly. Administrators may not be able to track email access patterns, identify suspicious login attempts, or enforce security policies effectively. A great example of this is that there is no method or way to see if a user is forwarding all their mail to other consumer/non-business accounts and no way to stop it with Outlook even if it is disabled on the Google Workplace domain. Outlook requires users’ accounts to use a less secure account connection type that prevents much of the intelligent account security monitoring.

Increased Complexity

Managing security for a hybrid email environment (Outlook + Google Workspace) is significantly more complex than managing security for a single email platform. The integration of two different systems can lead to configuration errors, compatibility issues, and inconsistencies in security policies. This complexity increases the risk of human error and makes it more challenging to maintain a robust security posture.

Data Retention and Legal Compliance Issues

Organisations often have legal and regulatory requirements to retain data for a certain period. Google Workspace Vault provides data retention capabilities to comply with these requirements. However, when using Outlook, these retention policies may not be fully enforced, leading to potential compliance violations and legal risks.

Limited Functionality and Reduced Productivity

Outlook does not support all the features and functionality of Google Workspace Mail. Users may not be able to utilise advanced features like labels, filters, and advanced search, which can hinder their productivity and workflow. Additionally, the limitations of Outlook may lead to frustration and hinder user adoption of Google Workspace.

Support Challenges and Increased Costs

Microsoft and Google provide different levels of support for their respective email products. This can lead to confusion and delays when troubleshooting issues related to Outlook’s integration with Google Workspace Mail. IT support teams may spend more time resolving compatibility issues and answering user queries, increasing support costs.

MDM Policy and Device Endpoint Challenges

Mobile device management (MDM) solutions are crucial for managing and securing mobile devices that access corporate data. However, some MDM policies solutions may be mitigated when not fully managed devices using Outlook to access Google Workspace Mail, limiting the ability to enforce security policies, manage settings, and protect against device-related threats.  An example of this would be disabling offline mail being stored on devices, which will not disable mail being stored in the Outlook application or enforcing mail encryption for offline mail when not logged into an account, this means all mail stored in Outlook will always be stored so that any local admin can see mail stored on the laptop even if a GWS user account is suspended.

Impact on Productivity and Adoption

The limitations and complexities associated with using Outlook to access Google Workspace Mail can negatively impact user productivity and overall adoption of Google Workspace. Users may be less productive due to limited functionality, performance issues, or frustration with the hybrid environment. This can hinder the organisation’s efforts to maximise the benefits of Google Workspace.


In light of the potential security risks, functionality limitations, and support challenges, organisations should strongly consider migrating away from using Microsoft Outlook to access Google Workspace Mail. The native Google Workspace Mail web interface and mobile app provide a secure, feature-rich, and fully supported solution that aligns with the organisation’s Google Workspace environment.  There are some features and configurations to make the adoption of a webmail UI feel more like a local application which we can help users enable.

By migrating to the native Google Workspace Mail interface, organisations can:

  • Enhance security by reducing the attack surface and improving visibility into user activity.
  • Simplify IT management and reduce support costs by eliminating compatibility issues and streamlining security policies.
  • Increase user productivity and satisfaction by providing access to all Google Workspace Mail features and functionality.
  • Improve user adoption of Google Workspace by providing a seamless and consistent experience across devices.

In addition to the benefits listed above, partnering with Devoteam G Cloud can further enhance the migration process and ensure a smooth transition to the native Google Workspace Mail interface. Devoteam G Cloud is a Google Cloud Premier Partner with extensive experience in cloud migrations, security, and productivity solutions. Our team of experts can help organisations of all sizes assess their current environment, develop a migration plan, and implement the migration seamlessly.

With Devoteam as your trusted partner, you can:

  • Accelerate your migration: Our proven methodologies and tools can help you migrate your mailboxes and archive PSTs to Google Workspace quickly and efficiently.
  • We help onboard your employees into Google Workspace thanks to our proven change management methodology.  This leads to users adopting Gmail UI and using it to increase productivity effectively boosting your GWS licence ROI. 
  • Minimise disruption: We will work closely with you to minimise downtime and ensure that your users can continue to access their email throughout the migration process.
  • Enhance security: We will help you configure your Google Workspace Mail environment to meet your organisation’s security requirements.
  • Optimise your Google Workspace environment: We will work with you to optimise your Google Workspace environment to maximise its potential for your organisation.

Contact us today to learn more about how Devoteam can help you migrate to the native Google Workspace Mail interface and unlock

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