In a world in which cyber attacks are ever more common — and sophisticated — understanding advanced threat protection (ATP) is key to defending your digital assets. There was a time when deploying antivirus solutions, intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and other network security solutions were more than enough to ensure robust defenses. However, malware has evolved tactics with which to evade all of these defenses. The good news is advanced threat protection has also evolved to make system infiltration more difficult to accomplish.
How Advanced Threat Detection Works
The best contemporary ATP solutions use a strategy known as “sandboxing”. Essentially, they isolate applications from your critical system resources and other programs, allowing them to only access resources in their own, well, sandboxes.
Basically, upon installation, an application gets a unique directory, within which it is granted unlimited read and write capability. Simply put, ATP gives the app rope, then watches to see if it will proceed to hang itself. The application is prevented from accessing the system’s storage device until authorization is granted, once its behavior has been scrutinized and deemed friendly.
Managing applications in this fashion forces malware to run separated from the host, which gives the security platform an opportunity to analyze it, determine whether it poses a threat and determine how to neutralize it if it’s deemed hostile. Analyzing applications as they function virtually in a variety of operating system and software configurations in this fashion hastens their discovery and minimizes their potential to infect a device or a network.
Further, observing the behavior of a program this way enables the advanced threat protection system to learn from it. This makes subsequent incursions as well as different iterations of the malware more readily identifiable. Key ATP capabilities to look for include endpoint agent kernel-level visibility and real-time behavioral correlation. These features will ensure rapid and precise detection, as well as automated responses.
The Key Benefits of Advanced Threat Protection
Hackers don’t stand still; their technology evolves right along with the rest of the industry’s capabilities. Surprisingly willing to work harder to steal than earn, they have become ever more determined, pointed and crafty in their efforts to evade network security protocols.
Traditional malware usually reacted once a hostile program had started to do damage. In other words, threats were detected after they’d introduced issues. This made response more costly, as well as blemished the reputation of a network.
ATP is capable of stopping attacks before they occur by isolating a bug before it can infiltrate your system. It can also disrupt or counter the effect of an action that may have slipped past its notice and breached a system. This in turn suspends the attack’s lifecycle and prevents its progression by halting it in its tracks in real time.
ATP’s marked ability to detect and respond to attacks designed specifically to overcome defenses such as antivirus, firewalls, and IPS/IDS in this way is a distinct advantage.
There Are Certain Caveats
With all of that said, no single solution is capable of countering all threats. As effective as ATP is, you should look upon it as but one of the tools in your arsenal of defense. Traditional methods of prevention, detection, and response should still be deployed as well.
Further, it’s important to bear in mind any security system is only as robust as its weakest link — and more often than not that link is a user. Employee security awareness training is paramount to the defense of any network. Moreover, the implementation of a broad organizational security procedure is also key.
Long story short, while understanding and deploying advanced threat protection is an absolute must in today’s rapidly evolving threat environment, good old-fashioned common sense still has its place as well.