Advanced Threat Detection with Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

Updated on: December 13, 2023

Advanced Threat Detection with Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

In today’s digital landscape, where cyber threats are on the rise, organizations like yours find themselves in a constant battle to protect their valuable data and critical systems. Moreover, with data storage on the cloud from 30% in 2015 to 60% in 2022, the risk is even higher for cloud-based networks. The seriousness and complexity of these threats underscore the crucial need for better detection and prevention.

Microsoft Azure is a popular cloud service provider which held 23% of the market share in 2022. But how does Azure protect your data against advanced threats? Today, we will delve into the world of advanced threat detection and explore how Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) helps bolster your cybersecurity defenses against the above.

Why is Astra Vulnerability Scanner the Best Scanner?

  • Runs 8000+ tests with weekly updated scanner rules
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What are Advanced threats? 

Imagine advanced threats as the elite forces of the cyber world. Unlike ordinary attacks that target vulnerabilities with brute force, advanced threats are like crafty spies – they meticulously study their target, exploit any weaknesses, and stealthily infiltrate systems. What makes them particularly menacing is their ability to remain hidden for prolonged periods, operating in the shadows without raising alarm bells. Some examples include nation-state attacks, credential stuffing, etc.

In simple words, advanced threats to traditional attacks are like putting a chess grandmaster against a novice. Conventional attacks rely on well-known tactics, making them somewhat predictable and detectable. Advanced threats, on the other hand, are like chameleons – they adapt, change their tactics, and adopt new techniques to bypass standard security defenses. This adaptability is what makes them so hard to catch.

What is Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)?

Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a comprehensive smart cloud-based security solution by Microsoft, whose mission is to sniff out and nullify advanced cyber threats and attacks that might otherwise slip under the radar. 

It observes and tracks the daily behavior of users, devices, and applications within your organization to understand what classifies as normal. When something deviates from the norm, like an unexpected activity or an unusual access request, to ensure security in your Azure, it raises a virtual eyebrow and sends up a red flag. It seamlessly integrates with vulnerability scanning and penetration testing, creating a multi-layered defense strategy that addresses threats from every angle.

Key Features of Azure ATP for Advanced Threat Detection

Behavioral Analytics

At the core of Azure Advanced Threat Protection is its behavioral analytics engine. By establishing a baseline of normal behavior for users and entities within your organization, it swiftly identifies deviations indicative of all potential threats. This approach transcends traditional rule-based detection methods, enabling your system to detect novel and sophisticated attacks that may fall through the cracks of signature-based systems.

Machine Learning-based Anomaly Detection

Machine learning algorithms aim to analyze the user and entity behaviors in your business to enhance the accuracy of threat detection. By regularly adapting and learning from patterns, Azure’s threat detection mechanisms can discern subtle anomalies that might be early indicators of an attack. This empowers your organization to stay ahead of threats by predicting potential breaches.

Threat Intelligence Integration

Azure ATP does not act as a lone wolf but instead leverages the broader threat intelligence network it is always connected to. By integrating threat intelligence feeds, it stays updated with the latest emerging attack techniques, tactics, and procedures employed by cybercriminals. This ensures that the system is equipped to recognize evolving threats.

Detecting Insider Threats with Azure ATP

Contrary to popular belief, cyber threats don’t always originate from external sources. Insider threats, which can stem from employees, contractors, or partners with access to your systems, pose a significant challenge. These threats can range from accidental data leaks to intentional malicious actions. 

Azure’s Advanced Threat Protection Sensor does not only constantly monitor and analyze user activity, but also compiles the data from various vulnerability scans and penetration tests to identify potentially risky digital behaviors and footprints, both intentional and accidental alike. It then sends a red alert to your security team allowing them to escalate any potential threats before they escalate.

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Azure ATP Best Practices

To maximize the effectiveness of data security in Azure ATP, several best practices should be embraced:

1. Secure Configurations: 

When setting up Azure ATP configurations to secure your digital environment, the following play a critical role in building a robust security foundation:

A. Access Controls: 

While configuring access controls, follow the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) by giving access only to those who need it. Assign specific roles and permissions within Azure Advanced Threat Protection based on each person’s job responsibilities reducing potential risks.

B. Network Segmentation: 

Think of network segmentation as creating different zones within your network. Thus, in case of any attacks, you can isolate critical systems and sensitive data from the broader network and contain the impact of any potential breach. As an added layer of protection, this technique also makes it harder for attackers to move laterally within your network.

C. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): 

By enforcing MFA for all users who access your system, you can add another hurdle for any unauthorized access. Thus, even if someone’s password gets compromised, the second authentication factor works as a safety net to securing your date.

2. Regular Updates: 

To keep pace with the evolving cyber threats, your software and systems introduce new updates, with patches and features to improve your security posture. Thus, whether it is the Azure ATP or any other integration, make sure you regularly review and apply updates released by the vendors.  Moreover, ensuring the integration of threat intelligence feeds can also help enhance the system’s ability to detect emerging threats.

3. User Training and Awareness: 

Educate your users including employees, clients, vendors, partners, and any other stakeholders about potential threats, emerging techniques, and best practices that can go a long way in securing your Azure environment. Encourage active involvement and conduct real-life simulations to help them train for responses.

4. Data Privacy and Compliance: 

While using Azure, leverage the Azure SQL Advanced Threat Protection to enable encryptions, define clear data retention policies, and address any privacy concerns in the database. This helps you adhere to various domestic and international data protection regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, PCI, and more.

How can Astra help?

Although Microsoft Azure is a powerful cloud with internal threat detection capabilities, certain advanced threats may still miss its radar. This is where Astra steps in – we provide exhaustive cloud security scanning services tailored for your Azure space.

With a dedicated team of experts, round-the-clock support, publicly verifiable certificates, and weekly updates Astra leaves no stone unturned.

Our key features include:

  • Cloud-based scans translate to stress-free servers
  • Collaborate with security experts for remediation using the vulnerability management dashboard
  • Seamless integration of the scanner with your CI/CD pipeline
  • Compliance-specific scans to improve audit readiness
  • Manual pentest to detect business logic errors and ensure zero false positives

Thus, the only constant is change and cybersecurity is no different. With the digital landscape in a constant state of flux and cyber threats evolving at an alarming pace, conventional security measures are no longer sufficient to counter advanced attacks.

Azure Advanced Threat Protection helps you leverage a multipronged approach to defend against the most sophisticated threats. By integrating vulnerability scanning, and penetration with Azure’s threat detection, you can bolster their security posture and safeguard their digital assets. 


What is Azure in simple terms?

Azure is a cloud platform by Microsoft that simplifies technology by providing an online platform where you can store files, run websites, and create software without managing hardware. It offers computing power and storage over the internet, eliminating the need for owning physical servers.

What are the benefits of Azure ATP?

Azure Advanced Threat Protection offers enhanced security through behavior analysis, anomaly detection, and threat intelligence. It detects advanced threats, insider risks, and provides real-time alerts, helping you respond swiftly and effectively to potential security incidents.

Sanskriti Jain

Sanskriti is a technical writer at Astra who believes in writing with purpose and for a purpose. When she is not busy exploring the world of cybersecurity, you will probably find her with her nose buried deep in a book or on the lookout for a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.
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