View and organize the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection Alerts queue

Applies to:

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The Alerts queue shows a list of alerts that were flagged from machines in your network. By default, the queue displays alerts seen in the last 30 days in a grouped view, with the most recent alerts showing at the top of the list, helping you see the most recent alerts first.

There are several options you can choose from to customize the alerts queue view.

On the top navigation you can:

  • Select grouped view or list view
  • Customize columns to add or remove columns
  • Select the items to show per page
  • Navigate between pages
  • Apply filters

Image of alerts queue

Sort, filter, and group the alerts queue

You can apply the following filters to limit the list of alerts and get a more focused view the alerts.

Severity

Alert severity Description
High
(Red)
Threats often associated with advanced persistent threats (APT). These alerts indicate a high risk due to the severity of damage they can inflict on machines.
Medium
(Orange)
Threats rarely observed in the organization, such as anomalous registry change, execution of suspicious files, and observed behaviors typical of attack stages.
Low
(Yellow)
Threats associated with prevalent malware and hack-tools that do not necessarily indicate an advanced threat targeting the organization.
Informational
(Grey)
Informational alerts are those that might not be considered harmful to the network but might be good to keep track of.

Understanding alert severity

It is important to understand that the Windows Defender Antivirus (Windows Defender AV) and Microsoft Defender ATP alert severities are different because they represent different scopes.

The Windows Defender AV threat severity represents the absolute severity of the detected threat (malware), and is assigned based on the potential risk to the individual machine, if infected.

The Microsoft Defender ATP alert severity represents the severity of the detected behavior, the actual risk to the machine but more importantly the potential risk to the organization.

So, for example:

  • The severity of a Microsoft Defender ATP alert about a Windows Defender AV detected threat that was completely prevented and did not infect the machine is categorized as "Informational" because there was no actual damage incurred.
  • An alert about a commercial malware was detected while executing, but blocked and remediated by Windows Defender AV, is categorized as "Low" because it may have caused some damage to the individual machine but poses no organizational threat.
  • An alert about malware detected while executing which can pose a threat not only to the individual machine but to the organization, regardless if it was eventually blocked, may be ranked as "Medium" or "High".
  • Suspicious behavioral alerts which were not blocked or remediated will be ranked "Low", "Medium" or "High" following the same organizational threat considerations.

Understanding alert categories

We've redefined the alert categories to align to the enterprise attack tactics in the MITRE ATT&CK matrix. New category names apply to all new alerts. Existing alerts will retain the previous category names.

The table below lists the current categories and how they generally map to previous categories.

New category Previous categories Detected threat activity or component
Collection - Locating and collecting data for exfiltration
Command and control CommandAndControl Connecting to attacker-controlled network infrastructure to relay data or receive commands
Credential access CredentialTheft Obtaining valid credentials to extend control over devices and other resources in the network
Defense evasion - Avoiding security controls by, for example, turning off security apps, deleting implants, and running rootkits
Discovery Reconnaissance, WebFingerprinting Gathering information about important devices and resources, such as administrator computers, domain controllers, and file servers
Execution Delivery, MalwareDownload Launching attacker tools and malicious code, including RATs and backdoors
Exfiltration Exfiltration Extracting data from the network to an external, attacker-controlled location
Exploit Exploit Exploit code and possible exploitation activity
Initial access SocialEngineering, WebExploit, DocumentExploit Gaining initial entry to the target network, usually involving password-guessing, exploits, or phishing emails
Lateral movement LateralMovement, NetworkPropagation Moving between devices in the target network to reach critical resources or gain network persistence
Malware Malware, Backdoor, Trojan, TrojanDownloader, CredentialStealing, Weaponization, RemoteAccessTool Backdoors, trojans, and other types of malicious code
Persistence Installation, Persistence Creating autostart extensibility points (ASEPs) to remain active and survive system restarts
Privilege escalation PrivilegeEscalation Obtaining higher permission levels for code by running it in the context of a privileged process or account
Ransomware Ransomware Malware that encrypts files and extorts payment to restore access
Suspicious activity General, None, NotApplicable, EnterprisePolicy, SuspiciousNetworkTraffic Atypicaly activity that could be malware activity or part of an attack
Unwanted software UnwantedSoftware Low-reputation apps and apps that impact productivity and the user experience; detected as potentially unwanted applications (PUAs)

Status

You can choose to limit the list of alerts based on their status.

Investigation state

Corresponds to the automated investigation state.

Category

You can choose to filter the queue to display specific types of malicious activity.

Assigned to

You can choose between showing alerts that are assigned to you or automation.

Detection source

Select the source that triggered the alert detection. Microsoft Threat Experts preview participants can now filter and see detections from the new threat experts managed hunting service.

Note

The Windows Defender Antivirus filter will only appear if machines are using Windows Defender Antivirus as the default real-time protection antimalware product.

OS platform

Limit the alerts queue view by selecting the OS platform that you're interested in investigating.

Machine group

If you have specific machine groups that you're interested in checking the alerts on, you can select the groups to limit the alerts queue view to display just those machine groups.

Associated threat

Use this filter to focus on alerts that are related to high profile threats. You can see the full list of high-profile threats in Threat analytics.