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  • Writer's pictureChaz Vossburg

Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection: Benefits and Tips

Safe Links and Safe Attachments

Over the last few decades, the means and modes of communication have shifted dramatically.  Organizations are increasingly embracing collaboration and instant-messaging tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams in place of “old school” methods like phone calls, text, and emails.  However, despite the appearance of modern communications and collaboration tools, a study by Recode indicates that emails, phone calls, and texts still make up more than 70 percent of all communications with co-workers.

With this, the threat of virus and malware attacks as an everyday concern for businesses has continued to proliferate, becoming ever more sophisticated.  When successful, these types of attacks can cause several issues for a company-from loss of customer trust to a financial disaster resulting from downtime and data recovery.  It is an accepted fact that security against threats is of paramount importance, but the problem is knowing where to focus an organization’s time, effort and resources.

According to recent reports, ransomware, ad fraud malware, viruses, and phishing scams have dominated the attack landscape in recent years, with email a primary venue for threats, predominantly through malicious links and attachments.  As we have previously discussed, aside from basics like data encryption, smarter password policies, and improved employee education, what can you do to secure email within your company against these threats?  Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection may be the answer that you are looking for.

Advanced Threat Protection is a cloud-based email filtering service that helps protect your organization against unknown malware and viruses.  Two of the key features that we will discuss are Office 365 ATP Safe Attachments and Safe Links.  Let’s take a brief look at how each works.

ATP Safe Attachments: Checks email attachments for people in your organization.  When a Safe Attachments policy is in place and someone covered by that policy views their email in Office 365, their email attachments are checked and appropriate actions are taken, based on the established policies.  For example, a user receives an email message that has an attachment.  It is not obvious to the user whether the attachment is safe or contains malware.  The organization has defined ATP Safe Attachments policies in place.  Prior to the user receiving it, the attachment is opened and tested prior to delivery.  All attachments that do not have known virus/malware signatures are routed to a special virtual environment, apart from your network, where ATP uses a variety of machine learning and analysis techniques to detect malicious intent. If the attachment is determined to be malicious, it is removed automatically.  If the attachment is safe, it will open as expected when the user clicks it.

ATP Safe Links:  At this point in time, users SHOULD be aware of and know the dangers of clicking on links from unknown users.  If you don’t trust the user, don’t click the link.  Unfortunately, there are times when a sender you trust has, themselves, been hacked.  ATP Safe Links provides time-of-click verification of website addresses in both email messages and Office documents When an email is received that contains a URL and you click on that link, Safe Links will automatically check the URL before opening it.  It will be identified as blocked, malicious, or safe.  If it is safe, it will open as usual.  If it has been blocked or is identified as malicious, it will open a warning page without exposing you to the potentially harmful link.

Ultimately, your goal is to keep your users and company’s information safe.  You need to use every weapon in your arsenal to do so.  If you want real-time protection against increasingly sophisticated email-borne attacks, protection from unsafe attachments, and visibility into what kind of attacks you might be facing, then utilizing Safe Attachments and Safe Links within Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection is a solution that effectively addresses these issues.

Please watch our video “Configuring Safe Links and Safe Attachments” for a step-by-step guide for configuring and deploying in your environment.

At Wellforce we take security seriously.  Have questions about deploying Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection? Click here to contact us and speak with one of our security experts who can assist you with everything from licensing through deployment.  Stay safe out there!


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