April 13, 2015

An advanced persistent threat (APT) is a targeted cyber-attack mostly directed against businesses or political institutions. In this, a hacker gains unauthorized access to a system network and remains undetected for a long duration. The purpose of advanced persistent threat is not to damage the computer or infect the organizations’ network. Rather, it aims at stealing sensitive and high-value information from organizations involved in manufacturing, finance and national defense.

An advanced persistent threat has three main targets:

  • Stealing information from the target
  • Surveilling the target
  • Sabotaging the target

How Does It Work?

An advanced persistent threat usually follows the following four steps to successfully accomplish its purpose:

  • Investigation: This involves a thorough analysis of the weaknesses in the network security system of the organization. It may be done through domain queries, port as well as vulnerability scans.
  • Initial Access: Once the weaknesses are discovered, the hacker tries to exploit them to gain access into the organization’s network. For this, he may use a sophisticated social engineering technique, known as spear fishing.
  • Increase Rights: Following the initial entry, the hacker attempts to gather the necessary user credentials to gain more control over the system. He also creates several back doors to easily access the information while circumventing all the security mechanisms.
  • Exploitation: Once full control has been established, the hacker will be able to constantly detect, steal and exploit all the sensitive data stored in the corporate network.

Counter Measures For Advanced Persistent Threats

In spite of the sneaky nature of the advanced persistent threats, there are many preventive actions taken by most organizations to safeguard their critical information. The most important of them is to recognize what data you need to protect and detect the threat at an early stage to prevent further penetration. You must also install a layered data security protection in your system. This would provide an added protection in case of a potential advanced persistent threat attack.

Another counter measure can be to hold continuous security awareness training sessions for all the employees. This will ensure that they are alert about what and what not to do while using the internet or email.  Other technological defenses against advanced persistent threat attacks may include data encryption, classification, application whitelisting as well as security analytics.

It is also important for the IT security team of the organization to remain proactive to deal with any such unauthorized breaches in the corporate network. We at Centex Technologies evaluate and recommend security measures for your organization. For more information, call us at – (855) 375-9654