Stop phishing from sinking productivity: Reinforce collaboration app security

Gaidar Magdanurov, President at Acronis

Collaboration applications such as Microsoft 365 are a lifeline for many managed service providers (MSPs) and businesses worldwide. These tools facilitate communication, collaboration, and the exchange of enormous amounts of data. Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Word, Excel, Outlook, and other household applications have become an organizational cornerstone for maintaining productivity and driving daily operations. 

What is mainstream is open to attack. While MSPs and their clients often prioritize email protection and anti-phishing measures, conventional phishing techniques no longer take center stage. Cybercriminals have invented new ways to compromise IT environments to launch and spread malware, and productivity applications have become a popular attack target. In fact, phishing is the number one threat to collaboration app environments and contributes to 73% of total attacks. Opportunistic cybercriminals take advantage of inadequately protected applications, making them a gateway for malware.

3 reasons cyber criminals aim at your clients’ collaboration apps

1: Cybercriminals target collaboration applications because they foster data-rich environments. With information continuously being created, stored and transferred between individuals and groups, this trove of valuable data entices actors. Adversaries also recognize that your clients overlook collaboration app protection, and if a breach is successful, the high payoff only sweetens the deal. 

2: Most of your clients think the default security measures provided by collaboration apps are enough to safeguard them from known and unknown threats, so their guard is down. This assumption is wrong. For example, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 has inherent limitations in securing collaboration resources. While standard protection measures are generally effective against known threats, they fail to detect and contain advanced threats like zero-day malware and persistent threats. Microsoft’s shared responsibility model clearly outlines the responsibilities of the customer, Microsoft and what is shared. To adequately protect against these sophisticated threats, advanced security measures are necessary.

3: Cybercriminals want to craft and execute phishing campaigns with minimal investment and resources. The pool of information living in collaboration apps makes it easier for adversaries to scale attacks. This enables them to spread malware with fewer resources. In collaboration with app-driven phishing campaigns, cybercriminals rely on users sharing compromised documents across the business. Unbeknownst to victims, the shared files accelerate the spread of malware and aid in adversarial lateral movement — spreading malware without any additional effort from the bad actor.

5 protection layers you need to unlock new revenue streams with collaboration app security

 By adding collaboration application security to your service offering, you tap into new revenue streams with a differentiated security strategy that expands protection to diverse IT environments. Your MSP business will be empowered to protect your clients’ collaboration applications and data, close security gaps, and fortify cyber resilience.

Finding the right partner to help is key. Here are five essential protection layers we recommend ensuring that your productivity app security vendor has in place:

  1. Scanning and detection to catch APTs and zero-day malware

By scanning all files and URLs, advanced threats are intercepted before they reach the end user. This includes advanced persistent threats (APTs), zero-day threats, and sophisticated ransomware that would otherwise bypass traditional defenses. Scans help you block attacks earlier in the kill chain, at the exploit phase. 

  1. Anti-evasion: Recursive unpacker

A recursive unpacker is the ideal anti-evasion tool for detecting malicious content concealed within clean content. The tool separates embedded files and URLs into individual components and identifies nefarious content lurking undetected in your clients’ collaboration app environment.

  1. Threat intelligence

One pressing responsibility of MSP leaders is staying up to date on the latest cyber threats. Collaboration app security solutions should provide insightful threat intelligence to equip technicians and improve their reactivity to modern-day threats. This threat intelligence, coupled with a comprehensive solution, is paramount to protecting clients against cyber threats in the wild.

  1. Anti-phishing engines

Robust anti-phishing engines are crucial to identifying and detecting advanced phishing attacks. These engines use content analysis and multiple phishing filters. They also empower you to effectively block malicious URLs, whether known or unknown, and ensure that phishing attacks are prevented prior to reaching the end user.

  1. Antivirus and anti-malware

Unsurprisingly, antivirus and anti-malware are effective security measures against productivity app-targeted phishing. Signature-based detection and antivirus, combined with an advanced security solution, counter collaboration app phishing attacks using algorithms that identify complex signatures and other evasive malware.

Collaboration app security is a value add to your managed services portfolio

By adding collaboration application security capabilities to your MSP service offering, the strategic move can greatly enhance profitability and strengthen your MSP business’s overall value proposition to clients. MSPs that demonstrate comprehensive security measures focused on safeguarding collaboration apps leverage competitive advantage in the market with a differentiated service portfolio that prioritizes the overarching protection of clients, their data and diverse IT environments. This mitigates the risk of data breaches and financial losses and fortifies business continuity by ensuring uninterrupted access to critical collaboration tools. Ultimately, this enables your MSP business to deliver greater value to your clients while driving business growth and success.