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What Is Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)?

Advanced threat protection (ATP) refers to security solutions that protect your organization from advanced cyberattacks and malware that aim to exfiltrate, corrupt, or steal sensitive data. ATP can help an organization stay a step ahead of cyber criminals, even predicting attack vectors, putting the IT team in a better position to defend against them.

How Does Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Work?

Cache Lookup

ATP systems, like Microsoft advanced threat protection and others, perform a cache lookup that examines a file to determine whether or not it is malicious.

Antivirus Scanning

Antivirus scanning is a key element of ATP security because it targets viruses trying to infiltrate your system through email or other vulnerable areas.

Static Analysis

Static analysis is the process of examining a file to see if it shows signs of malicious code or suspicious instructions.

Dynamic Analysis

With dynamic analysis, the suspicious file is executed in a controlled environment to allow the IT team to observe how it behaves. This can be performed by a managed security service provider (MSSP) advanced threat service using sandboxing. Because it contains the threat and renders it harmless, dynamic analysis can be a useful ransomware defense as well.

Problems Addressed By Advanced Threat Protection

Point-of-Sale (POS) Malware

POS malware can scan a point-of-sale system to find weaknesses. These can then be exploited by hackers for financial gain.

Malware Targeting the Banking Industry

Malware that targets online banking systems uses Domain Name System (DNS) cache poisoning, which involves directing someone to a fake website. The site looks like a legitimate one, and the user enters their login information, which is collected by the bad actor.

Ransomware

Ransomware holds a computer or its files hostage by encrypting them and then demanding that a ransom be paid to get a decryption code. Supposedly, the user will then be able to decrypt their system and regain control of it.

What Are the Most Common Tactics of Advanced Threat Attacks?

Phishing

In a phishing attack, the malicious actor sends links that seem to come from a trusted source. They then try to abuse this trust to gain access to sensitive information.

Installing Malware

After malware has been installed, cyber criminals can get inside the network, observe activity, and steal sensitive data.

Password Cracking

Not even the services of an MSSP can defend against cracked passwords, particularly if a company does not implement multi-factor authentication (MFA), which requires the presentation of more than one set of identification credentials.

Creating a Backdoor

When a hacker creates a backdoor, they open the way for re-entry into the system at a later date. They can use the backdoor as often as they like—at least until a tool like the Fortinet ATP solution is used to eliminate the vulnerability.

How To Defend Against Advanced Threats

ATP for enterprises will often use sandboxing to protect against advanced threats. With sandboxing, the suspicious file is examined and then placed in a protected environment where it is shielded from the rest of the network. Here, it can be studied by the cyber defense team.

However, even sandboxing cannot protect a system from all threats. It is important therefore to not only use other tools, like next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), but also educate users within your company regarding the need to avoid:

  1. Clicking suspicious links or downloads
  2. Giving out sensitive login information to anyone they do not know
  3. Not protecting their passwords

Understand the Scale of Today’s Advanced Threats

The scale of the advanced threats faced by today’s organizations will vary based on the organization’s attack surface, vulnerabilities, and the type of assets it has that might attract attackers. 

In some cases, an organization may under-protect their system because they fail to properly outline all facets of their attack surface. In other situations, a company may over-invest in a system that provides adequate protection but ends up wasting funds that could be better spent elsewhere.

Measure and Monitor the Effectiveness of Your Current Security

It is important to establish metrics that can be used to measure how effective your current security solution is. For some companies, it may be possible to tweak the current system or make minimal additions to make it adequate. In other cases, a complete overhaul may be necessary.

Leverage Your Vendor’s Expertise To Optimize Your Current Installation

While your IT team may have an impressive body of knowledge regarding the tools you have, your MSSP or another vendor will likely have even more. Take the time to glean insights from their knowledge regarding how to best configure your system to get the most out of your investment.

Take a Network-based Approach for 20/20 Visibility Into All Threats

The best way to defend your organization is to focus on attaining network-wide visibility. This involves analyzing all network traffic throughout its lifecycle, as well as the endpoints and devices that connect to the network.

Implement a Life-cycle Defense, Not Piecemeal Solutions

A lifecycle defense solution involves implementing a closed-loop system that studies the complete lifecycle of a threat, as well as the data that moves throughout your network. While tracing these lifecycles, you are able to observe the threat and its behavior from start to finish, as well as the path that network traffic takes—the same path it could expose to threats.

How Fortinet Can Help

With FortiGate next-generation firewalls, your organization obtains the power of an advanced NGFW that can filter all incoming and outgoing traffic. In this way, it can detect advanced threats. Further, with the incorporation of email security, web application security, sandboxing, and endpoint visibility and control, you get a comprehensive approach to advanced threat protection because multiple attack surfaces are protected simultaneously.