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advanced persistent threats

What are Advanced Persistent Threats?

By John DiGiacomo

In cyber security, an undetected attack by which someone gains unauthorized access to a network or system for an extended period of time is referred to as an advanced persistent threat. It is a form of security data breach whereby the attacker has gained access to the system and is able to come and go within the system without detection. The purpose of an advanced persistent threat or attack on a network or system is for the attacker to collect data. Advanced persistent threats often do not cause damage to the system, but are still a breach of the security of the system, which need to be identified and addressed as soon as possible.

Advanced persistent threats are characterized as sophisticated attacks that often require a decent amount of effort on the part of the attacker to ensure that their penetration into the computer system or network remains undetected. Attackers engage in various activities to cover their tracks, so to speak, such as creating a backdoor in the system code and updating or rewriting code to hide their presence or access to a system, as well as employing a number of intricate evasion techniques. Advanced persistent threats are unique in that they require a high level of skill, the attack itself is highly customized to the target, and attack often involves a slow buildup to actually gaining access to the system.

What Industries are Most Likely Affected by Advanced Persistent Threats?

As most advanced persistent threats are intended to help facilitate data gathering efforts, and attackers often target networks and computer systems in industries where any collected data can have a lot of value. According to a recent Symantec report, several industries are particularly desirable targets for perpetrators of advanced persistent threats, include but not limited to:

  • Military and national defense industries.
  • Financial industries, including banks, financial institutions and insurance companies.
  • Government agencies.
  • Globally competitive manufacturers.
  • Energy and minerals.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Transportation.
  • Utilities.

Due to the target-specific nature of advanced persistent threats, it is unlikely that small businesses would fall victim to these types of security breaches, but it is not unheard of. Advanced persistent threats are more likely in larger industries that deal in high-value data, where attackers have a lot to gain from their efforts.

What Can Companies Do to Combat Advanced Persistent Threats?

If you are concerned that your company is likely to be a target for advanced persistent threats, there are several things that can be done to defend against these security threats. Regularly assessing your company’s security situation is one of the best ways to identify advanced persistent threats early before they can do much to your system. Performing regular security tests and scans can help detect problems and intrusions. Conducting periodic vulnerability assessments can also help keep your system’s security strong.  

Talk to an Experienced Data Breach Attorney

Once a problem or vulnerability is identified, it is vitally important that your company takes immediate steps to address the issue. Responsiveness is key when dealing with advanced persistent threats and data breaches. If your system is breached, you will have to act quickly to notify any parties who may be affected by the data breach. Contact the data breach lawyers at Revision Legal today. Contact us using the form on this page or call us at 855-473-8474.

Image credit: Roland Buulolo

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