Securing your email with advanced threat protection and Office 365

Advanced threat protection

18 Jan Securing your email with advanced threat protection and Office 365

Advanced threat protection (ATP) is the first line of defence in the battle against cybercriminals getting access to your data and using it against you. Find out why you need to understand this piece of protection and ways to protect your business. 

Cybersecurity is a trending topic right now across every industry. We’ve all heard of the large-scale attacks like the WannaCry ransomware attack from mid-2017 that downed over 230,000 computers in 150 countries. But what’s even more concerning is the rising threat of your business being infiltrated by malicious software, regardless of your business’s size. In fact, it’s more than likely a case of when rather than if your system will be compromised. In a UK Government survey, the 2017 Cyber Security Breaches report, it was revealed that almost half of UK firms were hit by a breach or attack last year.

It’s surprising then, to read another report from the Institute of Directors and Barclays, conducted at the end of 2016, that found that more than a third of UK businesses lack a formal strategy against cyberattacks. This is even more surprising when we consider a study of companies in 79 countries, where the number one issue for executives working in business continuity and resilience is the threat from cybercriminals. 88 percent of companies included in the survey say they are “extremely concerned” or “concerned” at the risk.

So, it seems clear that UK businesses need to take cybercrime seriously and put a strategy in place. But where to start?

Protect the point of entry

If there is one place where your employees spend most of their day, it’s probably their email inbox. Most of us, in fact, begin and end our day with email. That’s why cybercriminals are targeting this area as a weak ‘point of entry’ to your organisation. Attackers are developing more sophisticated malware, and businesses need to be aware of the threat and act by taking preventative measures to secure their business data. Microsoft is aware of the dangers their customers face and so have made sure to include cutting-edge advanced threat protection built into Office 365.

What is advanced threat protection?

Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a new email filtering service that provides additional protection against specific types of advanced threats, including ransomware. This is Microsoft’s latest effort to help protect your email by reducing your environment’s vulnerability to malicious malware spread through clickable links. So, you know engagement is important. But how do you go about trying to improve your employees’ engagement levels, job satisfaction and ultimately, your business productivity levels? Below is some practical advice that you can implement almost immediately to limit dissatisfaction and make dealing with the daily business processes as smooth as possible.

How advanced threat protection works

Preventing attacks before they occur 

Advanced threat protection provides real-time defence against attacks you didn’t even realise were present. A lot of antivirus solutions use fingerprinting to identify malware, whereas ATP uses sandboxing to classify an email/link/attachment as malware based on its behaviour.

Identifying malware and potentially unsafe attachments and malicious URLS

File sharing, both internally and externally, means that your email clients are being tested all the time. ATP works across all ports and portals to detect anomalies. Downloading attached files are one thing, but embedded links and URLs that are unsafe are more easily hidden and even more easily clicked by unsuspecting employees. ATP scans and flags for these suspicious links, alerting users to possible threats so they can act before malware has a chance to strike.

Reports and insights

One of the best ways to protect your business is by understanding where threats come from and the data associated with the attacks. When ATP identifies a threat, it is sent to a global database that collects data and insights and shares these reports with the security community. This process helps future software updates nullify a small threat before it spreads or snowballs.

Strengthen your weakest link

One of the reasons for successful malware attempts on businesses comes down to employees not being vigilant enough about what they are downloading or clicking on. To solve this, good communication and training provided by your organisation is essential.

Even with the latest security tools, sometimes suspicious links and unsafe attachments can creep through the net. It’s up to your employees then to be able to recognise the danger signs and act appropriately, either by safely discarding the offending materials and/or reporting the findings to your IT team so they can take special measures to understand where the breach may have originated.

Data backup is critical

Sometimes the worst happens and despite your best efforts, a breach is detected and your system infected. At this juncture, the most important safety-net that your organisation will rely on is your data backup strategy. So, if you don’t have a plan for backing up your information and processes, you should drop everything and go get one.

The security you need

CPS are Microsoft experts who understand the realities of cybercrime and how best to stop it happening to you. With the right tools and solutions it is possible to prevent the worst kind of malware from getting through to your business and its important data.

To find out more about how CPS can help your business with implementing the latest Microsoft solutions, get in touch today.


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Sorcha Piotrowski
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