In MITRE’s evaluation of endpoint detection and response solutions, Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection demonstrated industry-leading optics and detection capabilities. The breadth of telemetry, the strength of threat intelligence, and the advanced, automatic detection through machine learning, heuristics, and behavior monitoring delivered comprehensive coverage of attacker techniques across the entire attack chain.
MITRE tested the ability of products to detect techniques commonly used by the targeted attack group APT3 (also known as Boron or UPS). To isolate detection capabilities, as part of the testing, all protection and prevention features were turned off. In the case of Windows Defender ATP, this meant turning off blocking capabilities like hardware-based isolation, attack surface reduction, network protection, exploit protection, controlled folder access, and next-gen antivirus. The test showed that, by itself, Windows Defender ATP’s EDR component is one of the most powerful detection and investigation solutions in the market today.
Microsoft is happy to be one of the first EDR vendors to sign up for the MITRE evaluation based on the ATT&CK framework, widely regarded today as the most comprehensive catalog of attacker techniques and tactics. MITRE closely partnered with participating security vendors in designing and executing the evaluation, resulting in a very collaborative and productive testing process.
We like participating in scientific and impartial tests because we learn from them. Learning from independent tests, like listening to customers and conducting our own research, is part of our goal to make sure that Windows Defender ATP is always ahead of threats and continues to evolve.
Overall, the results of the MITRE evaluation validated our investments in continuously enriching Windows Defender ATP’s capabilities to detect and expose attacker techniques. Below we highlight some of the acute attacker techniques that Windows Defender ATP effectively detected during the MITRE testing.
Deep security telemetry and comprehensive coverage
Windows Defender ATP showed exceptional capabilities for detecting attacker techniques through APT3’s attack stages, registering the lowest number of misses among evaluated products. Throughout the emulated attack chain, Windows Defender ATP detected the most critical attacker techniques, including:
- Multiple discovery techniques (detected with “Suspicious sequence of exploration activities” alert)
- Multiple process injection attempts for privilege escalation, credential theft, and keylogging/screen capture
- Rundll32.exe being used to execute malware
- Credential dumping from LSASS
- Persistence via Scheduled Task
- Keylogging (both in Cobalt Strike and PS Empire)
- Brute force login attempts
- Accessibility features attack (abusing sticky keys)
- Lateral movement via remote service registration
Windows Defender ATP correlates security signals across endpoints and identities. In the case of the APT3 emulation, signals from Azure Advanced Threat Protection helped expose and enrich the detection of the account discovery behavior. This validates the strategic approach behind Microsoft Threat Protection: the most comprehensive protection comes from sharing rich telemetry collected from across the entire attack chain.
Windows Defender ATP’s Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI) sensors also proved especially powerful, providing rich telemetry on the latter stages of the attack emulation, which made heavy use of malicious PowerShell scripts. This test highlighted the value of transparency: the AMSI interface enabled deep visibility into the PowerShell used in each attacker technique. Advanced machine learning-based detection capabilities in Windows Defender ATP use this visibility to expose malicious scripts.
Stopping attacks in the real world with Windows Defender ATP’s unified endpoint security platform
The MITRE results represent EDR detection capabilities, which surface malicious and other anomalous activities. In actual customer environments, Windows Defender ATP’s preventive capabilities, like attack surface reduction and next-gen protection capabilities, would have blocked many of the attack techniques at the onset. In addition, investigation and hunting capabilities enable security operations personnel to correlate alerts and incidents to enable holistic response actions and build wider protections.
Windows Defender ATP’s best-in-class detection capabilities, as affirmed by MITRE, is amplified across Microsoft solutions through Microsoft Threat Protection, a comprehensive, integrated protection for identities, endpoints, user data, cloud apps, and infrastructure. To run your own evaluation of how Windows Defender ATP can help protect your organization and let you detect, investigate, and respond to advanced attacks, sign up for a free Windows Defender ATP trial.
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