Automated investigation and response capabilities in Microsoft Threat Protection

Applies to:

  • Microsoft Threat Protection

As security alerts are triggered, it's up to your security operations team to look into those alerts and take steps to protect your organization. Prioritizing and investigating alerts can be very time consuming, especially when new alerts keep coming in while an investigation is going on. Security operations teams can feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of threats they must monitor and protect against. Automated investigation and response capabilities (also referred to as automated self-healing capabilities) in Microsoft Threat Protection can help.

Watch the following video to see how automated self-healing capabilities work:

Automated investigation and response is like having a virtual analyst in your security operations center.

Your virtual analyst

Imagine having a virtual analyst in your Tier 1 / Tier 2 security operations team. The virtual analyst mimics the ideal steps that security operations would take to investigate and remediate threats. The virtual assistant could work 24x7, with unlimited capacity, and take on a significant load of investigations and threat remediation. Such a virtual assistant could significantly reduce the time to respond, freeing up your security operations team for other important strategic projects. If this scenario sounds like science fiction, it's not! Such a virtual analyst is part of your Microsoft Threat Protection suite, and its name is automated investigation and response.

Automated investigation and response enables your security operations team to dramatically increase your organization's capacity to deal with security alerts and incidents. With automated investigation and response, you can reduce the cost of dealing with investigation and remediation activities and get the most out of your threat protection suite. automated investigation and response helps your security operations team by:

  1. Determining whether a threat requires action;
  2. Performing (or recommending) any necessary remediation actions;
  3. Determining what additional investigations should occur; and
  4. Repeating the process as necessary for other alerts.

The automated investigation process

Alert > incident > automated investigation > verdict > remediation action

A triggered alert creates an incident, which can start an automated investigation. That investigation can result in one or more remediation actions. In Microsoft Threat Protection, each automated investigation correlates signals across Azure Advanced Threat Protection (Azure ATP), Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (Microsoft Defender ATP), and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (Office 365 ATP), as summarized in the following table:

Entities Threat protection services
Devices (also referred to as endpoints) Microsoft Defender ATP
Azure ATP
Email content (files and messages in mailboxes) Office 365 ATP

Each investigation generates verdicts (Malicious, Suspicious, or No threats found) for each piece of evidence investigated. Depending on the type of threat and resulting verdict, remediation actions occur automatically or upon approval by your organization's security operations team. Pending and completed actions are listed in the Action center.

Tip

If you think something was missed or wrongly detected by automated investigation and response features in Microsoft Threat Protection, let us know! See How to report false positives/negatives in automated investigation and response capabilities in Microsoft Threat Protection.

While an investigation is running, any other related alerts that arise are added to the investigation until it completes. If an incriminated entity is seen elsewhere, the automated investigation will expand its scope to include that entity, and a general security playbook will run.

Note

Not every alert triggers an automated investigation, and not every investigation results in automated remediation actions; this all depends on how automated investigation and response is configured for your organization.

Requirements for automated investigation and response in Microsoft Threat Protection

Requirement Details
Subscription requirements One of the following:
- Microsoft 365 E5
- Microsoft 365 A5
- Microsoft 365 E5 Security
- Microsoft 365 A5 Security
- Office 365 E5 plus Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 plus Windows E5

See Microsoft Threat Protection licensing requirements.
Network requirements - Azure ATP enabled
- Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) configured
- MCAS integrated with Azure ATP
Windows machine requirements - Windows 10, version 1709 or later installed (See Windows 10 release information) with the following threat protection services configured:
- Microsoft Defender ATP
- Windows Defender Antivirus
Protection for email content and Office files Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection configured
Permissions - To configure automated investigation and response, you must have the Global Administrator or Security Administrator role assigned in either Azure Active Directory (https://portal.azure.com) or in the Microsoft 365 admin center (https://admin.microsoft.com).

- To use automated investigation and response capabilities, see Required permissions for Action center tasks.

Next steps