In the world of technology, acronyms are numerous. How about one more? Office 365 ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) is Microsoft’s next security layer. ATP provides additional protection for your Office 365 environment. Those of you using the Office 365 suite are likely aware of Exchange Online Protection (EOP) which provides spam, virus, and malware filtering. EOP does a great job of protecting against known threats, but doesn’t always result in effective zero-day protection. Enter Advanced Threat Protection.

Email is a major communication tool. Important information is transferred through it every day. This makes email a very effective vehicle for the bad guys to target unsuspecting or unprepared users. Businesses and individuals need to take steps to protect themselves. Threats are constantly evolving. You need to be sure that you have the best protections at your disposal. Being able to say that your email environment is well protected is a big win for IT Security and CISOs. This is what ATP was built for.

ATP provides all of the security of EOP, plus four other benefits. ‘Safe Attachments’ is a feature which scans attachments for known malware signatures. If the attachment isn’t identified as having a known signature, the message is routed to a special environment in the cloud which essentially spins up a server and uses it to test the attachment using machine learning techniques and analytics data collected from Microsoft cloud traffic. If nothing malicious is found, the message is sent on to the intended recipient. ‘Safe Links’ enhances EOP’s ability to block malicious links through time of delivery protection by dynamically blocking malicious links that redirect you. The third feature includes rich reporting and URL tracing. ATP allows admins to track which users are being targeted and what types of attacks are being perpetrated. Message tracing provides investigative capability into specific messages that are being blocked. Lastly, URL tracing can be used to inspect malicious links that have been clicked on. ATP also employs spoof intelligence. This fourth feature helps to protect you from unknown senders posing as safe senders.

“How do I get access to this?” It’s really quite simple. Like most Office 365 features, ATP is added at a small, monthly cost, and adoption is relatively painless. “What if I’m not using Office 365 today?” Well, you can still take advantage of ATP even if your mail isn’t residing in Microsoft’s cloud – with a minor configuration change. Cyber security discussions often touch on educating users to protect themselves. In some cases, email messages with malicious attachments can be crafted in such a way that they aren’t easily detected. ATP can provide an extra safeguard for your users. A nominal monthly cost for ATP on a per-user basis could turn out to be some of the best money spent on security.

Is ATP for everyone? Maybe. Maybe not. There’s an argument for and against. Third party tools can provide additional levels of security as well, if you have existing partnerships or software agreements in place. But if you are concerned about security, and looking for something that integrates with your current Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 environments, then ATP may be what you are looking for.