Microsoft Announces Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP), But What Does This Mean For Their Cyber Security Users? feature image

Microsoft Announces Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP), But What Does This Mean For Their Cyber Security Users?

Summary: With Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP), Microsoft has announced big changes coming to their security apps. Focusing on bringing a unified solution that correlates data across their cybersecurity services, they want to offer an end-to-end security solution that will help users stay one step ahead of sophisticated cyber attacks.

With the global cyber security landscape becoming more diverse, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay protected against cyber security threats. The cyberspace is a new battlefield, and businesses should always assume that someone is attempting to hack into their systems and exploit their environments.

Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP) Is the Answer to New Cybersecurity Threats

Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP) is the most exciting update of the Microsoft Ignite 2018 that was held from September 24 to September 28, 2018, in Orlando, Florida. The Ignite Panel on Microsoft Threat Protection explained a large portion of the changes coming to their cyber security services.

What Is Microsoft Threat Protection (MTP)?

Microsoft Threat Protection is Microsoft’s latest response to the increasing complexity of the digital estate and security issues that come with it.

Anything connected to the internet can be attacked. This not only includes laptops, tablets, phones, but also IoT devices such as smart meters, smart watches, and others – all of them are possible vectors of attack. The endpoints in the environment that are a target of cybercriminals are not just computers or phones, but complex systems like smart cities, sensors, smart cars, and smart energy grids.

These are coordinated and intelligent attacks, and it’s been an ongoing game of cat and mouse, where cybercriminals land a blow, the security experts respond, then cybercriminals find new exploits, and so on.

Microsoft Threat Protection aims to break this cycle and ensure to stay one step ahead by using the power of cloud computing, automated responses, and scaling capabilities to secure everything.

Why Did Microsoft Decide to Develop MTP as an End-to-End Security Solution?

The digital environment is more diverse than ever before, and Microsoft Threat Protection aims to offer a solution that protects enterprises and their digital environment against a growing number of sophisticated cyber attacks.

Once a cybercriminal gets access to any device within a system, they also get access to everything that the device has access to, searching for additional logins on the affected device to move across your whole environment.

Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph

The Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph is the foundation of all the security services included in Microsoft Threat Protection. It gives insight into various attack vectors and shows how many security threat signals are coming in daily from consumers and corporations – 6.5 trillion signals a day. Those signals are gathered from users, corporations, and Microsoft services.

The graph shows just how many signals are detected in various areas, such as Outlook, where over 400 billion emails are analyzed, or from 1.2 billion devices that are scanned each month, where over 5 billion threats are detected in that time.

Every single security alert and signal that is received is part of a larger attack, and it’s difficult (and very expensive) to correlate all signals across all devices. The Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph requires analysis by more than four thousand in-house security specialists, with over $1 billion invested each year into cyber security.

It is virtually impossible for most enterprises to have access to such security skills and budget to correlate all threats to their digital estate. Microsoft, therefore, offers enterprises the ability to use Microsoft’s vast cloud computing capabilities and insights by choosing MTP as their ultimate cyber security solution for all digital devices and assets you have in their environment.

How Microsoft Security Solutions Used to Work…

Before this, Microsoft’s threat protection was divided between their various services, which meant that cyber attacks could happen outside of those areas, in the gaps that were not covered by a specific service.

By bringing all these services closer together and having multiple apps address the different aspects, those gaps are covered and the risk of a breach is lowered.  

What Services Does Microsoft Threat Protection Include?

Microsoft Threat Protection isn’t a single app that covers all cyber security needs. It’s a group of services that work together to ensure all attack vectors are suitably covered from multiple angles.

The Services included in MTP are as follows:

  1. Azure Active Directory – This covers identity and access management.
  2. Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) – This covers detection of advanced attacks across the digital environment.
  3. Microsoft Cloud App Security – This is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) that covers data protection in the cloud environment.
  4. Microsoft Intune – A part of Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security, Intune is a cloud-based service that helps you manage mobile devices, apps, and the way workforce accesses and shares company information.
  5. Windows 10 – These are updates to existing security services like the Windows Defender.
  6. Azure Security Center – This is a unified security management system that protects hybrid workloads running in Azure and other environments.
  7. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection – Windows Defender is getting new capabilities that include post-breach detection, investigation options, and response.
  8. Office Advanced Threat Protection – This covers malicious attacks found in emails, collaboration tools, and links.
  9. Office Threat Intelligence – These are threat protection capabilities across all Office apps.
  10. Windows Server Linux – This covers Linux based servers.
  11. Exchange Online Protection – This covers email filtering, spam and malware protection, as well as protection against messaging policy violations.
  12. SQL Server – A protection through advanced machine learning.

Those services work in tandem to secure the five pillars of cyber security. This gives them greater coverage of possible attack vectors and in case one service doesn’t address a specific vector, the other will. These are the five pillars:

  • Identities – This pillar includes vectors such as users and admins and is protected by the following services: Azure Active Directory, Azure Advanced Threat Protection, and MS Cloud App Security.
  • Endpoints – This includes all types of devices and sensors that could be possible vectors for a breach. It’s protected by Microsoft Intune, Windows 10, Windows Defender ATP services.
  • User Data – All email messages and documents are protected by Microsoft Cloud App Security, Windows Defender ATP, Office 365 ATM, Office Threat Intelligence, and  Exchange Online Protection.
  • Cloud Apps – All data stores and SaaS solutions/apps are covered by MS Cloud App Security, Office 365 ATP and Exchange Online Services.
  • Infrastructure – All enterprise servers, virtual machines, networks, and databases are protected by Windows Server Linux, SQL Server, and Azure Security Center.

How Do Enterprises Use and Benefit from MTP

A good example of how enterprises benefit from MTP is Telit, who has over twenty years of experience in IoT and offers end-to-end IoT solutions. They use Microsoft’s services to protect everything: from IoT Products, over Services, IoT consulting, and building systems for enterprises.

They realized quickly that by having a unified system, they can address any security issues more efficiently and save a lot of money when compared to using different providers for each aspect of their business.

Your enterprise will benefit because instead of using the top services for each category, the MTP unified system can secure all of the following, and more:

  • Mail protection and encryption
  • Mobile device management
  • Endpoint security
  • Incident response
  • Cloud access
  • Securing data and apps
  • Data classification and governance
  • Data loss prevention
  • Compliance (GDPR)
  • Identity protection and privacy

Microsoft Threat Protection addresses the following cybersecurity pain points and helps enterprises by offering the following:

Integration – All security products should aim to be closer together and better integrated. This improves response and automation and closes gaps is security where attackers often operate.

Intelligence – The power of the cloud can improve security across all apps.

  • For example, businesses can have an overview of each user activity and get alerts on unusual activity or devices for each of their accounts or identities.
  • MS combines machine learning to detect deviations from usual patterns in user/ID/machine behaviour and activity.

Automation – The focus is placed on incidents that are most important, not all of them. This saves time on mundane and routine tasks through automated actions for each type of attack.

  • Alerts are correlated across machines and network to figure out how it happened and whether it’s part of a larger incident.
  • The incident takes X number of alerts and groups them together, shows the timeline of all alerts, and shows affected machines, emails, users what investigations and actions were taken.
  • By combining services to correlate alerts, better detection and response is achieved, and it’s easier to secure all the attack areas, strengthening the overall security.

A User-Centric Approach – Solutions are geared toward how users work.

  • For example, in emails, you will be able to display the underlying URL instead of the text part to immediately see if the link was spoofed. This offers security against threats targeting users (phishing etc) while not undermining the user experience.

EcosystemIntelligent Security Association – Instead of trying to cover every security aspect on their own, Microsoft is working with over thirty leading security tech providers to expand security coverage.

The Purpose of MTP

Microsoft wants to take a more active part in the realm of cyber security, and their threat protection gives them an important role of a cloud security provider. With their Intelligent Security Graph analysis, their Microsoft Threat Protection combines integration, intelligence, and correlation, and gives enterprises access to their computing power and scale.

Ideally, MTP will offer the following:

  1. Protection Against All Attack Vectors – The optimal solution is to stop all attacks, but since this is impossible, it should stop as much as possible from breaching the system.
  2. QUICK Detections When a Breach Occurs – Since some attacks will sneak by, it is crucial that they are detected as soon as possible.
  3. Response and Remediations – Once a breach is detected, adequate action should be taken. Here, automation options help take care of smaller threats by automatically remediating them, while larger threats will be brought to attention and the system will await input on what to do with them.

While MTP will make it easier to protect every aspect of your digital estate, user education and training are important too. Here, MTP wants to help businesses teach their employees about security risks, what they have to understand, and why they might be targets.

Ultimately, Microsoft Threat Protection should reduce complexity, time, and lower costs on incidents by offering an end-to-end security solution that also works with external security providers to truly extend their cyber security reach where it matters.

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