Advanced Persisent Threat

Advanced Persistent Threat – What Can We Do?

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) has historically been associated with cyber attacks by a state sponsored entity against a foreign government or military.  More recently, APT’s have been linked to attacks on corporations to secure intellectual property or sensitive proprietary information.

What is an Advanced Persistent Threat?
An APT can be defined many ways.  The simplest way to explain is it is a highly organized and sustained cyber attack, usually by a very skilled group of hackers.  Their intent is to steal data or to render a computer system useless.  These attacks by hackers are typically well planned and may have several critical steps involved in the process.  The hackers will start by probing systems for weaknesses and unleash malware where they can to further assess the system security.  They may also install malware that will ensure they have a backdoor into the system so the attacks can continue and possibly increase in severity.

In recent years, APT’s are linked to attacks on any type of entity, across all industries and locations.  It can start as a spearphishing attack targeted at vulnerable employees at a company.   Sometimes, the hackers may probe the executives at a company and send various types of e-mails, all in an effort to find a potential weakness.  Hackers may also target a specific department, such as accounts payable, in an attempt to access financial systems within a company.  Hackers are smarter every day and very methodical with their strategic planning.

Securing Your Company’s Data
Information Security departments must be diligent with their efforts to keep your company’s data secure.  Even the best information security can be susceptible to attacks, including APT’s.  Sometimes overlooked as a security measure is preparing employees with the tools needed to help the overall success of a company’s data security plan.  It is often said, your employees are your first and last line of defense.  It has never been truer than it is today.

A comprehensive Security Awareness Training program is an important tool in a company’s arsenal to thwart attacks.  The cost of a training program can pay for itself by preventing even just one attack.  Loss of financial assets or not being able to conduct business due to unavailable systems can be very costly, not too mention how much it can cost to repair and secure your data.  Additionally, a company may have a damaged reputation and/or have to pay for customers or clients to secure their data with credit monitoring as an example.