Many people are familiar with keeping devices and networks safe from malicious activity. Oftentimes, people assume that anti-malware, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software will protect them. However, that is not the case when it comes to advanced persistent threats, also known as APTs.

APT Definition: What are Advanced Persistent Threats?

An APT is a type of cyber attack that occurs when an unauthorized user gets access to your network or system and silently remains there undetected for an extended amount of time. This allows attackers a significant amount of time to achieve their malicious goals, which are usually to steal, spy or disrupt.

Who is Vulnerable to APTs?

APTs used to be closely associated with nation states or state-sponsored groups, but times have changed. A much broader range of cyber criminals have adopted this tactic and now APTs are a very real threat to anyone at any time. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the motivation. Money and politics are still the main goals of most APTs attackers.

What Happens in an APT Attack?

During the APT, the cyber criminal gains entry through an email, network, file or application vulnerability and then installs malware into the network. At this point the network can be considered as compromised.

Once the malware is installed, the malicious actor will then either investigate for additional network access and vulnerabilities, or communicate with a command-and-control to receive further instructions. The installed malware will successfully manipulate other areas within the network, so in case one point that is compromised closes, there will be other points the cyber criminal can use to continue their attack.

The threat actor then determines if they have established a reliable network connection and attempts to acquire valuable target information.such as account names and passwords, email addresses, etc. which allows them to identify and access the data. The malware collects this data onto a staging server and then exfiltrates it off the network. Once it is exfiltrated off the network, the threat actor has full control. At this point, the network is considered breached.

Why are Advanced Persistent Threats So Hard to Detect?

While the evidence of the APT attack is removed, the network will remain compromised. This allows the hacker to return at any time and continue the data breach. Like stated previously, anti-malware, anti-virus, and anti-spyware are ineffective when it comes to detecting this type of threat. This is because of how the attack is performed, and the level of persistence.

APTs also exploit “zero day exploits”, which is another reason they are so difficult to find. Essentially, a zero day exploit is an unknown flaw or vulnerability in software or hardware, which can create complex issues prior to anyone realizing something is not right. Zero day exploits are infrequently detected immediately; oftentimes, it can take months before learning about the flaw that led to the attack.

Protection Against APTs – Solutions for Your Network

Advanced persistent threat attacks are highly sophisticated, and are designed to deflect your existing security software. The most effective way to prevent APTs is to get the advice you need. Here at Throttlenet, our experts have all the necessary skills and tools to scan, diagnose and remove, a possible APT. Contact Throttlenet today to get the protection you need, before an APT compromises your network.

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