What are Outlook SafeLinks And Why should you disable them?

What are Outlook Safe Links?

Safe Links is a security feature in Outlook mail or Hotmail that is available for Office 365 subscribers. It checks the links in your emails and warns you when clicking on a potential dangerous link. It improves security and helps you to avoid phishing and scam. But there is a catch.

 Warning screen from outlook

 Well, it is good right?

The way the safelinks is implemented causes discomfort. It does not just check the links, it rewrites the links in your email to something like safelinks.protection.outlook.com.******. Yes, it rewrites the links in your email. Microsoft says it is done to protect from phishing attacks. Here is quote from their support docs,
After you activate the advanced security features, links in your email
might look different. For example, in some messages links might appear
longer than usual, and include text such as
"na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com." This is related to the checks
we perform to protect you from phishing attacks.

This method comes with its own disadvantages such as follows

1) All the links look the same - This makes it difficult for the user to spot which domain the link is leading to.

2) Problem with Email verification links - When the safe links were turned on I was having problems with email verification links. Some query parameters may have been stripped off, maybe. This was happening with popular websites too.

How do I turn it off?

You need to contact their support to turn it off as there is no option in setting to turn this feature off. According to Microsoft,
To provide the best protection for your account, these features are on
by default, and because they apply to each email alias individually,
they are not designed to be turned off.
However the office support team is great and they did process my request within a day. Kindly note that turning this off will only affect future emails and not the past ones.