What is an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)?

Today, cybercriminals may have access to your network, and you have little to no idea about this Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). Why? Because they might have had access to your business system for months, but they decided to remain undetected and are only waiting for the right moment to initiate their attack.

According to Allied Market Research, "the global advanced persistent threat market was valued at $5.9 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $30.9 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2022 to 2030."

Now you must be wondering about an advanced persistent threat such as what it is and how to protect your organization against it.

Let's get a clear picture of this rising threat to the market and then find a way to circumvent it.

What is Advanced Persistent Threat APT?

It is the most popular type of cyberattack, during which a hacker or group of criminals infiltrate a network and system first, then stay undetected for a long time. After they get access, they use it to steal valuable information and data.

The goal of APT could be anything; this access may be used for different purposes, such as stealing credentials or exploiting vulnerabilities. Once a system is infiltrated, your system is at the discretion of cyber attackers who can use access to extract data and information as and when they like while remaining undetected.

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

Why is it Important to Identify APT?

APT is quite a dangerous kind of cyberattack. Its purpose is to gather a large amount of data from your business and then remain undetected for a prolonged period. Since it doesn't focus on causing damage but on gathering confidential data and information, you will only realize that your system has been compromised once it's too late.

3 Phases of Advanced Persistent Threat Attack

Do you want to know how to prevent advanced persistent threat attacks? Well, you first need to recognize its main characteristics and three phases. Continue reading and unlock every phase one by one.

Stage 1: Infiltration

In the first step, APTs try to get access, and criminals use social engineering techniques, especially spear-phishing, for this purpose. They send phishing emails to senior executives and high-level management. But before sending this email, they collect information from one of the team members whose account has already been compromised. The executive opens this email because it is a discussion series of an existing project in the company. The email is from an existing team member and usually contains an annoying project reference.

Phase 2: Escalation and Lateral Movement

Once cybercriminals enter your system successfully, they move to the second phase of "Escalation" and insert malware into the network. They start gathering credential information while mapping the network. In this phase, they also create a backdoor- an entry point in the system that lets them sneak into the system later. They can create more than one entry point, so if an analyst discovers one backdoor, they have other doors to continue with their malicious operation.

Phase 3: Exfiltration

Cybercriminals start extracting and storing important information and data inside the system. They extract this data when enough information has been collected. During the extraction process, they distract security analysts and the whole team through a cyber attack. During the distraction, they initiate Exfiltration. The network remains compromised as they have multiple backdoors, and thieves can return anytime.

How to Identify an APT Attack in Your Network?

Here are some warning signs you need to pay attention to while dealing with APT.

  • Spear-Phishing email is the most common sign where criminals try to access high-level management.
  • When your system has the presence of a backdoor trojan, it could be another sign.
  • The security team may notice unusual data bundles, which criminals are preparing for extraction.
  • Unexpected anomalies in outbound data
  • The sudden boost in database operation
  • Malicious activity on a user account, more login during late nights, holidays, and off-days

How to Prevent APT attacks on Your Business?

APT is a sophisticated attack that remains undetected for a very long time. At first, this attack by using on the nation-state level.

But, in 2009, Operation Aurora targeted multiple private sectors and tech giants like Yahoo, Google, Adobe, and dozens more. Cybercriminals are trying the hacking technique of Aurora and other APT attacks to get access to your business network. There is a need to understand how you can prevent them.

Fortunately, cyber defense teams can still find a way to protect their organization regardless of how sophisticated an APT attack is. Here are some steps to follow.

Endpoint Visibility and Protection

Instead of waiting for an attack to happen, your business needs to be proactive with its cyber defense. And it's where endpoint protection is an ideal solution to APT. In other words, you need to install the best EDR in your system to boost endpoint visibility. Your team can make the most of threat intelligence and won't let any cybercriminal enter through a vulnerable endpoint.

Keep Network Up-to-Date

Two-Factor Authentication

You need to turn on this authentication in your system, especially for users who access sensitive data.

Awareness

Your organization's employees must be well aware of all the phishing attacks and cyber threats. Hiring a cyber security team is only enough if you educate your employees on how they can make your whole network vulnerable. So, boost awareness throughout your organization. Tell them how they can spot suspicious activities and what to do if someones try to gain unauthorized access.

Advanced Persistent Threats Solutions

Since APTs attacks are becoming common in the digital world among top-level organizations, security companies have launched different APT solutions. You can use an APT tool to protect your organization against this sophisticated threat.

Wrap up

Advanced Persistent threats attacks are the most dangerous ones as you need to know how long adversaries have been sneaking into your system and misusing your confidential information and data. Imagine losing trade secrets to these threat actors. It's the worst thing to imagine. It's time to stay vigilant and implement robust security practices such as updating security patches, adopting two-step authentication, educating your employees, and making the most of APT solutions.

Want to make sure that your business will stay protected against Advanced Persistent Threats?

It's time to get Xcitium APT solution.

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