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Advanced Threats

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Advanced Threats

What is Advanced Threat Protection?

Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a security solution that protects your organization from complex malware and cyberattacks targeting sensitive data. These include sophisticated malware variants and hard-to-detect attacks that involve compromised credentials.

As new cyberattack techniques are constantly emerging, organizations do not have the capacity to constantly track the latest emerging threats. Creating customized rules and policies to protect against every new threat is not feasible. 

Security teams that invest in advanced threat protection are able to defend against sophisticated attacks without having to manually configure their security tools and policies. This turns a difficult, time-consuming process into a streamlined, automatic one.


How Does Advanced Threat Protection Work?

SpamTitan’s ATP uses best-in-class technologies to automate the process of detecting and responding to advanced threats. Since there are so many types of advanced threats, catching them requires using more than one tool and arranging them in a multi-layered defense:

  • Bayesian Analysis analyzes email and attachment content looking for unusual phrases that may indicate a security threat. Bayesian analysis engines use statistics to identify patterns in the content they analyze, allowing them to improve their performance over time.
  • Machine Learning enhances security capabilities by enabling analytics tools to improve their performance continuously over time. Instead of relying purely on statistical models to measure and improve performance, AI-powered models use neural networks to predict the outcome of security events and learn from them dynamically.
  • Automated Heuristics identify malicious code by looking for patterns and characteristics shared by known malware variants. Heuristics aren’t limited to strictly defined attributes. Instead, these tools loosely compare code samples so they can accurately identify unknown threats based on their similarities to known ones.
  • Sandbox Verification isolates incoming attachments in a virtual machine environment and then opens them in the quarantined environment to verify their integrity. If the attachment starts exhibiting malicious behavior, the email is flagged as malicious. If the attachment passes the test, the email is allowed to continue through to the user’s inbox.
  • URL Scanning ensures that links embedded in incoming emails point to legitimate websites hosted on reputable servers. If an incoming email appears to point users toward a spoofed website or a phishing domain, the email will be blocked from entering the user’s inbox.

SpamTitan’s ATP solution puts all of these tools to work, securing your email inbox against a wide variety of advanced threats. This prevents malicious emails from arriving in users’ inboxes and offers additional point-of-click protection to users in case malicious content does get through. 

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What Are Common Types of Advanced Threat Attacks?

Advanced threats leverage emerging technology and unreported vulnerabilities to exploit security defenses and compromise users. Many advanced threats work by exploiting flaws in popular security solutions, allowing cybercriminals to bypass their targets’ security tools.

There are many kinds of advanced threats, and they all work differently. Some common examples include:

  • Slow-moving persistent ransomware. Some ransomware variants encrypt target documents very slowly – over weeks or months at a time. Since the attack happens so slowly, it is very difficult for security tools to detect suspicious behavior.
  • Malware attachments with delayed activity. Some malicious email attachments wait before activating. If a security tool scans the attachment looking for indicators of malicious behavior, it won’t detect any because the malicious code hasn't been activated yet.
  • Malware designed to bypass Sandbox verification. Some sandbox solutions let attachments pass if they take too long to verify. Others are configured to automatically pass password-protected attachments. Cybercriminals know how to exploit both of these scenarios to create malware that passes simple sandbox verification.
  • Malicious Microsoft 365 Macros. VBA macros are a common vector for deploying malware to Microsoft 365 users – but not the only one. Sophisticated cybercriminals can still deploy malicious content through Microsoft documents and spreadsheets, as well as popular non-Microsoft files like PDFs.
  • Technical attacks that exploit zero-day vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals may discover technical vulnerabilities before the cybersecurity community does. When this happens, hackers launch a zero-day attack for which there is no known remedy. It may take security professionals several days to create a patch for the newly discovered vulnerability – which gives hackers an important head start.
  • Malicious insiders and credential-based attacks. Once someone gains access to a privileged user account in your network, they can launch attacks that bypass most network defenses. Compromised user credentials are among the most difficult advanced attacks to defend against because attackers are using a legitimate user’s identity against them.
  • Impersonation Attacks. Someone who plausibly impersonates a known and trusted figure can exploit your email users into downloading malicious files, spreading infected documents, or even simply wiring payment to an offshore account. Impersonation attacks often use a sense of urgency and authority to convince victims to disclose sensitive data. 


What is Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection?

Office 365 has become a primary target for ransomware and phishing attacks. A recent study by Deloitte states that “91% of all attacks begin with a phishing email to an unsuspecting victim”. 

SpamTitan integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Outlook / Office 365 to provide advanced threat protection to organizations from sophisticated cyberattacks.

In 2016, a study found that 71.4% of corporate Office 365 users have at least one compromised account each month.  While Office 365 is a brilliant email client, it lacks in some areas such as spam filtering. Hence an advanced threat defense is required to defend against the ever-evolving cybercriminals.

Nevertheless, a spam filtering solution is required to protect against spam and advanced threats.

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How to Implement an Advanced Threat Defense?

SpamTitan's Email Protection solution contains award-winning features to protect against advanced threats in Microsoft Outlook.

Top Features of SpamTitan & Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

  • Email Scanning: Targeted threat protection, scanning every email, attachment, and URL on every click to provide advanced threat protection from impersonation fraud, ransomware, whaling, phishing and spear-phishing attacks.
  • Data Leak Prevention: Powerful data leak prevention rules which prevent internal data loss.
  • Sandboxing: The powerful next-generation sandboxing tool inspects all attachments for malicious links or infected email attachments. If any malicious activity is identified, the email will be quarantined.
  • Zero-Day Threat Protection: Use of predictive technology to anticipate new attacks.
  • Hosted Spam Filtering: Hosted spam filtering solutions detect spam and prevent malicious emails from ever entering an organization’s network.
  • Double Antivirus Protection: SpamTitan works with BitDefender and ClamAV to protect servers from sophisticated threat intelligence, phishing attacks and malware threats for advanced threat protection.

SpamTitan complements all Office 365 features. By implementing SpamTitan's Advanced Threat Technology, you can expect:

  • A greater level of protection.
  • A higher spam catch rate.
  • A greater level of customization/granularity.
  • Better outbound mail controls.
  • Business continuity.

How Much Risk do Advanced Threats Really Represent?

Business leaders and corporate stakeholders may be suspicious about the value of Advanced Threat Protection. They understand that their organizations are facing more threats than ever, but most of these are high-volume common threats that existing security technologies are able to handle.

This is true. However, successfully blocking 99% of cyberattacks won’t save your organization from the 1% that breakthrough. Advanced threats are becoming increasingly common as cybercriminals learn that lazy, highly automated attack vectors no longer pay off.

This doesn’t mean that advanced threats aren’t automated. Some of them use automation to qualify potential targets in remarkably clever ways. Others rely on AI-generated text to create convincing phishing emails. AI-driven automation is on the rise in every corner of the global economy – and that includes the cybercrime industry.

The trend towards increasingly sophisticated threats suggests that in the near future, there will be no such thing as a simple, common threat. Organizations need to prepare for an environment where all threats are advanced threats.

Not All ATP Solutions are Equally Advanced

There are many Advanced Threat Protection solutions available on the cybersecurity market. Many of them claim to have the same tools and technologies – like sandbox verification, URL scanning, and AI-powered content verification. However, that doesn’t mean they all offer the same results.

Cybercriminals have come up with many ways to beat advanced threat protection technologies. Achieving true security performance requires investing in advanced email protection with features that go beyond the minimum necessary functionality. Best-in-class ATP solutions like SpamTitan successfully mitigates the risk of today’s most advanced email-based attacks.

Here are just some of the ways cybercriminals bypass other ATP solutions:

  • Compromising reputable servers to send phishing emails. One way to bypass reputation-based server scanning tools is to steal access to a legitimate server and use it to send malicious emails. This will eventually ruin the server’s reputation and trigger alerts – but that may not happen until after you receive malicious emails from it.
  • Compromising trusted contacts to send phishing emails. Business email compromise gives cybercriminals an easy way to trick users into opening malicious emails. Hackers may have access to their victims’ entire email history, giving them all the information they need to plausibly impersonate a trusted co-worker, business partner, or supervisor.
  • Creating malware that can detect sandbox environments. Most sandbox environments are virtual machines with extremely small amounts of memory and storage space. It’s obvious these environments do not correspond to a real computer. High-quality sandbox environments must credibly trick malware attachments into thinking they are opening on a user’s device.
  • Sending malware attachments with delayed activation. Sandbox inspection delays attachment delivery, so there is a time limit for how long users are willing to wait for their attachments. Some cybercriminals design malware that only activates hours after opening in a new environment. This is much longer than the average sandbox tool can hold onto a single email.
  • Sending password-protected malware attachments. How does a sandbox verification tool open and verify a password-protected file? In most cases, it doesn’t. This allows hackers to bypass ATP solutions by sending malicious attachments as encrypted ZIP files and giving the recipient the password to open the file. 
  • Sending malicious files too large for sandbox verification. Most sandbox verification tools set a strict limit on how large a file they can verify. If someone sends a file too large to fit in the sandbox, it will simply fail to activate, allowing the large file to land in the user’s inbox. Hackers may also send multiple emails with multipart RAR files for this purpose.


View SpamTitan Demo

SpamTitan is a multi-award-winning spam filtering solution. View SpamTitan Demo to learn about all the benefits of advanced threat technology. View SpamTitan Demo.

SpamTitan Plus

SpamTitan Plus is an advanced phishing protection solution from TitanHQ, which includes A.I driven click time anti-phishing protection. It improves protection against phishing, business email compromise and zero-day attacks by neutralizing malicious links in emails. Learn more about SpamTitan Plus.

Protect your users against advanced threats. Try SpamTitan for free today

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Advanced threat protection analyzes email content and attachments to detect sophisticated threats that generic email filters usually miss. When it finds a compromised email, it quarantines that message and generates an alert. Security analysts can then access the quarantined email and learn more about the threat. This makes it a valuable component of any organization’s multi-layered security strategy.

Advanced threat protection is a valuable asset against sophisticated email phishing attacks, social engineering strategies, and business email compromise scams. It is also capable of detecting spoofed documents, including malicious Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, and more. It includes a URL verification feature that automatically checks the integrity of links embedded in incoming emails.

When combined with a comprehensive, multi-layered security strategy, advanced threat protection provides useful information for catching malicious users in other complex scenarios as well. For example, the data captured by advanced threat protection can contribute to detecting malicious insiders and compromised credentials.

SpamTitan automatically identifies and responds to advanced threats. This AI-powered solution does not require additional manual input from a human security analyst. It can generate alerts that a human analyst can review for threat intelligence purposes. SpamTitan is a self-contained, fully automated email security solution that protects users against known and unknown threats. It works by analyzing incoming emails for suspicious characteristics and quarantining emails that do not pass its tests

SpamTitan combines a variety of technologies to protect users from advanced threats. It uses AI-powered scanning to match incoming emails with known malicious content and opens incoming attachments in secure sandbox environments to protect against malware. It also includes solutions for preventing users from leaking data to third-party destinations and includes a robust antivirus filter. Altogether, these bundled technologies combine to create a multi-layered defense strategy.

Sometimes. Not all phishing attacks are advanced threats. However, many advanced threats include an email phishing component. Advanced threat protection defends your organization against many different types of attacks and blocks sophisticated phishing attempts. Both technologies – and Microsoft 365’s built-in email security solutions – can detect and block simple phishing attempts. More complex phishing attempts require security solutions that can verify the integrity of links and protect users

Some email protection solutions require system administrators to configure complex server deployments and manually add filters to their incoming and outgoing email protocols. Adding SPF, DKIM, and DMARC functionality to these products can be challenging. SpamTitan offers fast, easy deployment that generates immediate results. There is no need to manually configure your email security system. The software will automatically begin filtering harmful content from your user’s inboxes once deployed.

Not always. Low quality email threat protection solutions may accidentally flag genuine messages as spam. This may cause email users to lose messages, which impacts productivity. False positives are a stubborn and complex issue that many email security vendors still face. On the other hand, high quality email threat protection solutions from reputable vendors actually improve deliverability. They improve the reputation of the email servers associated with the organization.

Yes! Businesses of all sizes rely on email every day. Secure communication is the backbone of all business processes, and advanced threat protection solutions ensure that email users can trust the messages they receive in their inboxes. Small businesses actually have more to gain from deploying automatic email threat protection solutions because they can’t afford to deploy in-house security resources to monitor incoming messages and traffic.

The built-in email protection that comes with Microsoft 365 is not adequate to protect users against advanced threats. Microsoft 365 users need additional protection to prevent attackers from exploiting emerging zero-day threats and sophisticated malware attacks. On its own, Microsoft 365 is perfectly capable of handling well-known common threats but organizations need to adopt more robust security policies. That includes investing in multi-layered protection for email users such as SpamTitan.


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