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Advanced Persistent Threats | Know Them & Stop Them

Advanced persistent threat (APT) attackers are the top attackers of the cyber chain. Sounds scary, right? What’s worse is that these groups can steal your organization’s data and navigate its network without ever being noticed.

APT is a broad term used to describe an attacker or group of attackers that establish a long-term presence on a network in order to access and retrieve highly sensitive data. These targeted cyber attacks are typically carried out over an extended amount of time. The purpose of an APT attack is to monitor network activity and use in-house tools to steal data and compromise infrastructure.

Who are they and what do they want?

APTs are sophisticated attackers who are trained and funded by government networks, criminal organizations or individuals. They want two things – power and money – and target organizations handling high-value information in sectors such as the government, financial industry, universities, national defense and even journalism. Not only are APT attackers persistent, but they are skilled in advanced attack methods. Using spear phishing, social engineering techniques and malicious code, they sleuth around using tools foreign to system administrators. Once they’ve gained entry to a network, APTs use the malware they have installed to navigate and gain deeper access to an organization’s system, encrypting and transferring the data to their personal system. Unlike ordinary cyberattacks, APTs are harder to detect and even harder to defend against. To prevent your organization from falling victim to an APT attack, you must protect your network.How to Limit Attacker Access

  1. Restrict Information
    Limiting employee privilege can prevent an attacker’s entry to the network. Separating admin accounts from everyday accounts will limit key loggers and account hijackers. Additionally, minimizing public facing information can reduce the ability of attackers to enter the network through phishing and partner compromise. Internal information about the organization and its staff members should not be publicized on an organization’s website.
  2. Expand your resources
    Attackers have their own resources, so why shouldn’t you? Invest in your cybersecurity system just as you would invest in locks and other physical security gear. Underfunding your system will only make it more vulnerable to attacks. Hire dedicated security staff or contract this work out to ensure the system is constantly being monitored. Each company should know who to call in the event of a breach or system disruption.
  3. Make attackers work harder
    Time is on your side. APT attacks occur over long periods of time, so draw out their penetration efforts as long as possible. Deception technology lures attackers to fake servers and resources typical of enterprise networks. When you waste an attacker’s time and energy, security researchers can gather information about the tools they use and how an organization should adjust its system’s defense accordingly.
  4. Train your staff
    Humans are our weakest link. It is important to properly train your staff on how to respond to information requests. Similar to restricting information, the staff should refrain from publishing internal phone numbers and posting personal information on social media. APTs are slick and know how to manipulate information to gain access to an organization’s network.

APTs are the cyber threat organizations are least prepared for. Now is the time to invest in the market’s best cybersecurity software. Each organization should understand its risks and have the proper planning, training and resources in place to prevent their information from being compromised.