Advanced Persistent Threats Pose a Growing Challenge for Organizations Across Industry Lines
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) – network attacks that occur when an individual access a company’s IT network and steals the firm’s data, its customers’ information or other system data undetected for a long time – are increasing in scope and frequency.
An increase in the number of attackers in recent years means the APT market has grown. No longer are APTs limited to those bent on corporate espionage. Today, nation-state actors, terrorists, organized criminals and others use sophisticated software and zero-day malware to target and penetrate networks. Once they have gained network and systems access, they can exploit your organization.
Understanding the Steps Involved in Advanced Persistent Threats
No organization wants to find themselves having to deal with Advanced Persistent Threats. Understanding how these attacks occur can help organizations understand points of vulnerability. In general, APT attacks involve the following phases:
Cyber criminals use a variety of techniques and tactics to get to know their potential targets before taking action. Generally speaking, APTs are well-thought out and planned attacks, not random hit-or-miss attempts to penetrate a business’ network.
Using targeted malware – often through social engineering an unsuspecting employee – attackers gain access to company systems.
Discovery and Mapping
Once they are inside your network, most APT attackers work hard to maintain a low profile to avoid detection. They may “map” the defenses you have in place today, creating a plan to retrieve certain information under the radar.
Capture and Exploitation
Using your systems, the attackers may capture information for days, weeks, months or even longer, using that information in malicious ways.
Why Advanced Persistent Threats Provide a Special Challenge to Businesses
Advanced Persistent Threats pose a different challenge to businesses. Unfortunately, a lack of expertise in information security solutions designed to prevent and detect APTs has allowed the number and scope of threats to grow while the solutions marketplace has grown at a more limited pace.
Some organizations simply haven’t taken action to proactively address APTs because they are not aware of the potential threat, or naively think it won’t affect their industry or particular business.
Forecast for the Coming Years
Unfortunately, the forecast over the coming years is not good. Advanced information security attacks are expected to grow, increasing the exploitation of organizations. Increased malware capabilities will further challenge organizations’ abilities to defend against such attacks, hampering data security.
Of course, nobody knows for certain what the future of information technology and information security will bring. However, if recent years are any indication, we can expect an increase in malware infections, hacking, wifi penetration and other threats.
Organizations need to ensure their networks are defended, and that information security protocols are designed to identify and stop Advanced Persistent Threats before attackers can cause damage.