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Let’s better secure your Communications on 365

Protecting your data… with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

June 2017, soon after the release of the Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service within Office 365. In the wake and rise of the email born cyber-attacks, Microsoft released ATP as their optional add-on security service. Filtering emails, with little impact on productivity, ATP is among the strongest of the add-ons suite to 365, which we strongly urge businesses to adopt.

Including key features, such as Safe Links, ATP prevents users from inadvertently clicking on malicious links embedded within phishing emails that are falsely representing themselves from a genuine source, such as a bank, government body or trusted brand name.

Safe Attachments, protects your users from opening potentially damaging email file attachments, which can be embedded with viruses or malicious code that can install software in the background of a PC designed to steal or corrupt data, without the user even realising.


ATP has been around for 2 years, so what’s new?

A key feature, which has been added to the service’s Anti-Phishing tools, focuses on Impersonation Detection. ATP has been working to defend against phishing attacks for quite some time, however attacks known as, “spear-phishing” or “whaling”, where criminals impersonate a trusted sender often targeting individuals within a business that may have access to valuable data, are far more difficult to detect.

If the hacker can get their email delivered to their intended target, they are far more likely to be fooled by domain name impersonation. Where two very similar names are used, so similar in fact, that at first glance most users wouldn’t notice anything wrong with the email.

The new Impersonation Detection service works to spot lookalike emails and domain names that may have potentially been used to trick users. Using “mailbox intelligence”, ATP will determine whether the email being received is from a trusted email sender, or a new email address. Security warnings will then automatically be applied to unknown email addresses, helping to draw user’s attention to potential risks.

This feature, among all other ATP tools, are included within the Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection bolt-on product, which are included as-standard with the Enterprise E5 license.


So could someone impersonate my domain name?

Without hesitation yes. Someone out there if desired, could worryingly impersonate any domain name they choose. It is stupidly easy for those with relatively basic to zero knowledge of cyber hacking to mask your domain and an email address, then start firing out emails set to steal valuable data, or simply cause disruption & down time.

One risk in particular with domain impersonation isn’t necessarily criminals impersonating other people’s domains, but them choosing to impersonate your domain, with the one key objective of fooling your staff in your own business.

A recent example, a Finance Director’s email account being impersonated – with an accurate mask of the name, full email address, and even his complete email signature! An email gets sent from this fake account to another member of the Accounts Department, asking them to make payment on a fictitious invoice to a particular bank account. The email is well written in English and has a sense of urgency. Not wanting to upset their boss, the team members makes the payment as instructed. Losing the business thousands in one simple unknowing mistake, this could be happening to your business and you wouldn’t even know until it’s too late.


How can I use ATP for protection against this impersonation?

Advanced Threat Protection will automatically keep a look out for domains used within email addresses that are contacting your users. It will work to filter-out emails (based on your pre-defined choices) that fall into an do not trust category, perhaps a spoof domain that is very similar to your own (down to very simple differences, potentially one character different), or from an unknown user/email address that doesn’t exist within your 365 – keeping your team well out of harm’s way.

The threat management dashboard contains real-world statistical information on where emails are originating from, domains and users that have been impersonated. With this kind of information, you will be able to keep well ahead of the constant threats, enabling you to focus on more important aspects of your business.


There is always the risk that genuine emails may well be filtered out, so you can of course view a list of all of the quarantined emails and choose to take action on them all collectively or by individual email.



What are the next steps?

If you are already a user of the Office 365 suite, you can bolt-on the ATP service almost immediately! Contact the team to receive support in obtaining and best-configuring the service to sufficiently protect your data, users and livelihoods.


Want to get the best of cyber security for your business?

At Advoco, we specialise in learning our clients’ business and best applying security technology to their needs.

If you would appreciate a free brief discussion about your operational challenges & to explore the threats to your business, please get in touch today – 0345 260 8801 or drop us a line