Cybersecurity threats never sleep. As security tools become more widely used and sophisticated, attackers are developing new ways to achieve their goals. These advanced threats evade traditional security, residing on networks for long periods without discovery. But Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) provides a solution.
This blog will explain why ATP matters and how to make it work for you. But first, let’s explore what Advanced Threat Protection is, and how it diverges from standard security tools.
What is Advanced Threat Protection?
Advanced Threat Protection is a set of security solutions designed to combat the most sophisticated cybersecurity threats. These agents include Advanced Persistent Threats (ATPs) that burrow into network assets and can reside undisturbed on networks for months or even years.
Some advanced threats are relatively benign, such as botnet components. Others are extremely dangerous and compromise data protection by constantly exfiltrating confidential data until discovery. In any case, next-generation security solutions are needed to detect, quarantine, and remove these threats.
Specialist ATP tools are the only answer. ATP tools adapt to the changing cybersecurity landscape. They use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to turn raw data into cybersecurity response capabilities, with the aim of staying a step ahead of cyber-attackers.
Benefits of Advanced Threat Protection
Implementing Advanced Threat Protection is a cybersecurity essential for companies that handle sensitive data. ATP systems have a wide range of benefits compared to basic cybersecurity tools, including:
Panoramic threat visibility – ATP allows network managers complete real-time visibility regarding network traffic and potential threats. Companies benefit from diverse threat detection systems. Tracking tools cover all network traffic and endpoints.
Reliable threat identification – ATP identifies threats with accuracy and reliability. Detection systems minimize false positive rates. This allows security teams to focus on real threats, not mirages.
Resistance to advanced threats – Malware attacks seek to evade firewalls and detection tools. ATP seeks to provide threat detection for all malware variants. Global intelligence sourcing ensures that detection systems outpace any attackers.
Reduced data loss - ATP has measurable data protection benefits. Lock down cloud storage containers and on-premises databases. Prevent exfiltration of client data, and meet data compliance goals.
Features of Advanced Threat Protection
Advanced Threat Protection systems use various tools to deliver adaptive network security. Implementations vary between settings. However, ATP platforms will generally include the following critical components:
File analytics ensure rigorous endpoint security. Endpoints are the first line of network defense. Endpoint detection tools inspect all data passing across the network perimeter, filtering potentially hazardous files. ATP tools analyze all traffic as it enters network devices. Users cannot run apps or view documents until they pass inspection criteria.
Combined prevention and detection
ATP prioritizes threat prevention, neutralizing attacks before they engage with network assets. Detection tools deliver real-time visibility, filtering traffic according to global threat databases. AI tools analyze network traffic to detect patterns and flag suspicious activity.
If prevention systems fail, ATP implementations include tools to manage attacks and minimize damage. Sandboxing tools quarantine potential threats, separating them from critical assets. This provides space for experts to assess security incidents and take necessary action.
ATP systems operate on a foundation of threat intelligence. Security providers maintain global databases of active threats. Providers update these databases on a rolling basis, adding new malware or exploit attacks when they appear. ATP tools then use this intel to protect client networks against known threats.
How does Advanced Threat Protection work?
ATP takes a three-stage approach to network security. The three stages are threat detection, intelligence sharing, and sandboxing.
At the threat detection stage, ATP software filters network traffic and focuses on suspicious activity. Machine Learning and hardware emulation tools make it possible to isolate anomalies for deep analysis. Network traffic analysis results in targeted, granular detection of advanced threats.
Intelligence sharing informs threat detection. ATP providers leverage global networks of clients and security experts. Data flows provide information about advanced attacks and new attack vectors. This information feeds into detection and attack management systems.
When ATP systems detect threats, they engage sandboxing systems. Sandboxing creates protected spaces containing detected threats like infected files or advanced malware. Quarantining can occur via Terminal Access Point (TAP) mode and on-premises data centers. However, cloud-based sandboxing is becoming more popular.
Sandboxing comes with high data overheads and can result in network slowdown. ATP tools based in data centers may also miss threats delivered via remote workstations. Cloud solutions generally avoid slowdown while avoiding data center backhauling.
Most common advanced attack methods
Advanced Threat Protection exists because cyber attackers constantly seek new ways to access network resources. Today’s corporate networks face multiple Advanced Persistent Threats that evade traditional security tools. These threats include:
Phishers seek to exploit human trust to gain access to valuable data. Attackers pose as colleagues, customers, or business partners. By framing emails intelligently, they can persuade employees to provide personal data, download infected attachments, or click on harmful links.
Phishing is the most common attack method for advanced threats. Every business is vulnerable, and security teams struggle to educate staff to prevent phishing attacks. ATP reassures users that threats can be detected when phishers succeed.
Malware attacks deliver persistent data exfiltration agents via phishing attachments, fake websites, unsecured public wifi, or exposed network endpoints.
When attackers gain access, they can usually install malware at will. Agents placed on traffic pathways connected to data storage devices or payment portals can extract data constantly. Sophisticated attacks may implant malware for years without detection.
External attackers can access company networks by stealing or purchasing the credentials of authorized users. Attackers can crack passwords protected by weak encryption. Weak passwords may also be easy to guess and vulnerable to brute-force attacks.
Attackers can also use credential-stuffing techniques to mount speculative attacks. Companies may be unaware that employee details are available to attackers. For instance, they may lose sight of orphaned accounts or fall victim to insider credential theft.
Distributed-denial-of-Service attacks overwhelm network ports with traffic. They can mobilize botnets to coordinate crippling attacks. But DDoS attacks can also be targeted and subtle, focusing on specific network assets.
Network endpoints may become infected with DDoS bots over long periods. Bot infection can result in attacks directed against the host network. But the presence of bots may also sap local bandwidth and compromise network performance.
How can you defend against advanced threats?
The best way to defend against emerging threats is by sourcing a tailored Advanced Threat Protection solution. ATP detects persistent threats before they occupy network resources. Even masked threats are vulnerable to ATP detection tools, which can neutralize the most recently identified agents.
Companies can beat most APTs by combining cybersecurity basics with next-generation tools. For instance, security teams should also provide anti-phishing training. Staff should be aware of password hygiene and always use secured connections on public wifi.
How should you choose Advanced Threat Protection software?
Choosing the right ATP provider is of critical importance. Providers can make big promises about features, success rates, and support while failing to deliver on the ground. Research potential security partners before commissioning a solution. Look at client testimonies and reviews, and test support services if possible.
When selecting ATP tools, choose the features you need. Some companies prefer lightweight solutions focused on user experience and convenience. Others require in-depth inspection and threat management tools to secure confidential data. Buyers may need ATP tools that interact with CRM systems, and many require cloud functionality as standard.
With many ATP providers competing for attention, pick a reliable supplier that meets your unique requirements.
Work with NordLayer to implement Advanced Threat Protection
NordLayer can help you protect against APTs as part of a flexible Advanced Threat Protection strategy. Our network protection tools include flexible DNS filters and Deep Packet Inspection that block the sources of malicious and potentially harmful content, including phishing websites.
Users can minimize the risk of acquiring APTs on their devices by limiting access to malicious content. This allows secure access to the resources users depend on without adding complex security solutions that may compromise performance.
Additionally, NordLayer makes it easy to implement IP masking and IP allowlisting. These solutions allow users to conceal their activity from external observers, adding another layer of security protection.
Don’t let advanced threats thrive on your network or compromise your data protection systems. Find out more about ATP by contacting NordLayer today.