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What is Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)?

by Nate Lord on Tuesday September 11, 2018

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Learn more about advanced threat protection solutions and services in Data Protection 101, our series on the fundamentals of data security.

A Definition of Advanced Threat Protection

Advanced threat protection (ATP) refers to a category of security solutions that defend against sophisticated malware or hacking-based attacks targeting sensitive data. Advanced threat protection solutions can be available as software or as managed services. ATP solutions can differ in approaches and components, but most include some combination of endpoint agents, network devices, email gateways, malware protection systems, and a centralized management console to correlate alerts and manage defenses.

How Advanced Threat Protection Works

There are three primary goals of advanced threat protection: early detection (detecting potential threats before they have the opportunity to access critical data or breach systems), adequate protection (the ability to defend against detected threats swiftly), and response (the ability to mitigate threats and respond to security incidents). To achieve these goals, advanced threat protection services and solutions must offer several components and functions for comprehensive ATP:

  • Real-time visibility – Without continuous monitoring and real-time visibility, threats are often detected too late. When damage is already done, response can be tremendously costly in terms of both resource utilization and reputation damage.
  • Context – For true security effectiveness, threat alerts must contain context to allow security teams to effectively prioritize threats and organize response.
  • Data awareness – It’s impossible to determine threats truly capable of causing harm without first having a deep understanding of enterprise data, its sensitivity, value, and other factors that contribute to the formulation of an appropriate response.

When a threat is detected, further analysis may be required. Security services offering ATP typically handle threat analysis, enabling enterprises to conduct business as usual while continuous monitoring, threat analysis, and response occurs behind the scenes. Threats are typically prioritized by potential damage and the classification or sensitivity of the data at risk. Advanced threat protection should address three key areas:

  • Halting attacks in progress or mitigating threats before they breach systems
  • Disrupting activity in progress or countering actions that have already occurred as a result of a breach
  • Interrupting the lifecycle of the attack to ensure that the threat is unable to progress or proceed

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Benefits of Advanced Threat Protection Software and Services

The primary benefit offered by advanced threat protection software is the ability to prevent, detect, and respond to new and sophisticated attacks that are designed to circumvent traditional security solutions such as antivirus, firewalls, and IPS/IDS. Attacks continue to become increasingly targeted, stealthy, and persistent, and ATP solutions take a proactive approach to security by identifying and eliminating advanced threats before data is compromised.

Advanced threat protection services build on this benefit by providing access to a global community of security professionals dedicated to monitoring, tracking, and sharing information about emerging and identified threats. ATP service providers typically have access to global threat information sharing networks, augmenting their own threat intelligence and analysis with information from third parties. When a new, advanced threat is detected, ATP service providers can update their defenses to ensure protection keeps up. This global community effort plays a substantial role in maintaining the security of enterprises around the world.

Enterprises that implement advanced threat protection are better able to detect threats early and more quickly formulate a response to minimize damage and recover should an attack occur. A good security provider will focus on the lifecycle of an attack and manage threats in real-time. ATP providers notify the enterprise of attacks that have occurred, the severity of the attack, and the response that was initiated to stop the threat in its tracks or minimize data loss. Whether managed in-house or provided as a service, advanced threat protection solutions secure critical data and systems, no matter where the attack originates or how major the attack or potential attack is perceived.

Tags: Data Protection 101, Advanced Threat Protection

Nate Lord

Nate Lord is the former editor of Data Insider and is currently an account manager covering the southeast, Great Lakes, and Latin America regions at Digital Guardian. He has over 7 years of experience in the information security industry, working at Veracode prior to joining Digital Guardian in 2014. Nate enjoys learning about the complex problems facing information security professionals and collaborating with Digital Guardian customers to help solve them.