Earlier this week Microsoft announced that it will extend the Safe Links feature that’s currently on Outlook and part of Advanced Threat Protection to its Office online products: Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Microsoft’s cloud software, Office 365, was hit by two outages in the month of March this year. The March 7 outage lasted about an hour, but a more severe outage took down Office 365 cloud applications for nearly 16 hours. The outages are still under investigation, and Microsoft is yet to publish the reasons for the attack and the remediation methods used.

The Safe Links features is part of Advanced Threat Protection for Microsoft products, and is currently implemented in Outlook, where it alerts users of possible malicious links within emails. When unsafe links are clicked, it redirects the user to a warning page. The feature will now make its way into Office online products via ProPlus Desktop Clients later this month. Microsoft did not specify an exact date for the rollout.

In general, Advanced Threat Protection is a category of security solutions that must meet three specific goals. As outlined by DigitalGuardian, these are as follows:

  • 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.

In addition, any advanced threat protection solution must be able to halt attacks or mitigate threats before a successful breach is made. In case the breach has already occurred, it must be able to execute countermeasures or, in some way, disrupt the malicious activity. Finally, it must interrupt the lifecycle of the attack to make sure the threat is unable to progress to the next level.

By bringing Safe Links to Office online products delivered over the cloud, Microsoft is furthering its agenda to provide end-to-end security solutions across the Office 365 gamut of SaaS applications.

In a blog post published by the Office 365 security team,

“As cyber criminals broaden the scope of attacks beyond email workloads, it’s necessary to extend security capabilities beyond email. This new capability will further integrate and expand security across Office 365. Our intent has always been to provide our customers with an end-to-end, unified and secure experience across all of Office 365, and this extended capability of Safe Links is an example of our continued step toward this goal.”

The blog post is the same one we reported on earlier this week, where Microsoft announced several new products to the general public after a private review period that began in February 2017. The products include Secure Score, Advanced Data Governance and Threat Intelligence, as well as a new reporting interface for ATP.

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