Top Features of Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Top Features of Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Update, April 2024:

Since the publication of this blog post, there have been significant updates in Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection, now branded as Microsoft Defender for Office 365. The threat landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and Microsoft has responded by expanding its security features to provide even more robust defenses against sophisticated attacks.

This move gains further relevance against the backdrop of the alarming trends highlighted in the 2023 Cyber Readiness Report by Hiscox. The report underscores a growing wave of cyber threats, showing that the frequency and severity of attacks are climbing steadily. It notes that now, more than half of all businesses (53%) experience cyber attacks, marking a significant increase from the previous year’s 48%. Business email compromise has emerged as the most common method of attack, with perpetrators also frequently targeting cloud and corporate servers to gain unauthorized access.

As businesses worldwide face this ongoing challenge, solutions like Microsoft Defender for Office 365 stand at the forefront of a necessary digital defense, aiming to fortify organizations against these relentless and evolving threats.

New Developments in Microsoft Defender for Office 365 (formerly Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection)

  • Enhanced Machine Learning Models: Microsoft has improved its machine learning capabilities to detect and prevent advanced threats more effectively. These enhancements further minimize false positives and increase detection accuracy.
  • Cross-platform Protection: Microsoft extends its protection capabilities beyond Office 365 to other cloud services, providing a unified security posture across your organization’s online presence.
  • Integrated Threat Intelligence: Advancements in threat intelligence enable better prediction and prevention of emerging threats, keeping organizations one step ahead of attackers.
  • Automation of Investigation and Remediation Processes: More advanced auto-investigation features allow faster response times to security alerts, reducing the time it takes to resolve incidents.
  • Increased Customization for Security Teams: Microsoft Defender for Office 365 now offers more customizable security policies and alerts, allowing IT teams to tailor protection to their organization’s specific needs.

These improvements are a testament to Microsoft’s commitment to continuously enhance its security offerings to protect businesses of all sizes from the constantly changing threats they face online.

Remember: Investing in cybersecurity is crucial to safeguarding your business’s future. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and consider Microsoft Defender for Office 365 as a reliable tool in your cybersecurity arsenal.

Image source: Microsoft

Cyber threats are one of the biggest hazards of our time, and the situation is not getting better. A 2021 cyber report from Hiscox shows the number of businesses targeted in the past year increased from 38% to 43%. Email is one of the primary ways cybercriminals use to attack and compromise small business IT management and security.

Small and medium-sized businesses are often the most vulnerable to threats because they lack the resources for sophisticated protection. Microsoft 365’s Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) has some great features to help keep small business IT management environments secure and prevent bad actors from using email against you.

Checks Attachments Virtually

We’ve long been told not to open any email attachments unless you’re expecting them or are sure of the source. Even that isn’t a foolproof way to protect your systems from unsafe attachments, however. Microsoft 365’s ATP has a Safe Attachments option you can apply to individuals in your team or the company as a whole. The program automatically opens every file sent to your users in a virtual environment and tests the files for malicious content. If they are risky in any way, they are removed without opening in your real-time environment.

Fights Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are a common method that criminals use to impersonate companies and individuals and gather sensitive information illegally. Microsoft’s ATP uses algorithms and machine learning to spot phishing attempts. The program then warns the recipient, moves the message to spam or trash, and records information to help it identify similar future attempts from the same source.

Sanitizes Suspicious Links

Like attachments, links in messages can be a significant risk factor for email security. Often, the link text says one thing but points to a completely different URL. On occasion, the sender may have been hacked and the email spoofed without their knowledge. Whatever the method, clicking on the safest-looking link can be a gamble that is better not to take.

Microsoft 365 ATP’s Safe Links feature checks URLs before opening them and notifies your small business IT management team if it’s blocked, malicious, or safe. If it contains a threat, the user gets a warning message instead of the page opening up. This process applies to links embedded in documents attached to an email, too.

Allows Intelligent Spoofing

Spoofing is also an act of impersonation, during which emails are disguised so they appear to come from a trusted source. In some instances, companies may legitimately imitate another sender for marketing or bulk email purposes, so blocking all spoofing isn’t practical. Microsoft 365’s ATP can create filters that identify authentic activity from malicious activity and enables you to block the latter.

Automates Incident Responses

The cyber threats are ever-changing, but on any given day there is a whole slew of threats in play. By automating investigation processes and responses to well-known, current risks, Microsoft 365 ATP can keep your systems up to date. The artificial intelligence used in ATP can check for viruses or intrusions and delete any suspicious messages that fit the criteria set by your company. This allows your cybersecurity team to function more efficiently and delegates the “grunt” work to the system.

Delivers Business Intelligence

It’s a victory to foil an attempt at compromising a company’s systems, but what about the next day’s threat, and the next? Knowing what to expect provides cybersecurity teams with a valuable asset they can use to forestall future attacks. The Microsoft 365 ATP also offers rich reporting capabilities that enable you to develop business intelligence to inform your actions going forward.

Analytics allow companies to develop online assets, insights, and remedial steps that can help keep them safe in the future. Given that some companies lose up to $300,000 in a single cyber incident, it makes sense for the organization’s bottom line to maintain IT security as far as possible. Don’t be one of the small businesses that lose billions annually through inefficient IT management.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with us about advanced threat protection for your business, please contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, a managed services provider (MSP) can certainly assist you in implementing Microsoft Defender for Office 365 effectively for your business. They offer assessment, implementation, monitoring, training, and optimization services to maximize your cybersecurity. Partnering with an MSP ensures your business gets the most out of Defender.

Microsoft Defender for Office 365, formerly known as Microsoft 365 Advanced Threat Protection, is a rebranded suite with enhanced capabilities. It includes protection against sophisticated threats such as phishing, malware, as well as real-time insights through reports and threat investigation. While both serve to protect against threats, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is the updated offering that represents the evolution of Microsoft’s security services, offering more robust features.

Microsoft Defender for Office 365 is available in two plans. The exact pricing can vary based on region, volume licensing, and any applicable discounts. For accurate pricing information and to explore which plan suits your needs best, check the official Microsoft website.

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