APT (Advanced Persistent Threat)
APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) opens systems up to destructive cyber-attacks putting companies’ proprietary information in jeopardy of being stolen and exposed. Written and implemented by highly skilled hackers, an APT is designed to infiltrate a specifically targeted network.
What is Advanced Persistent Threat?
APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) is a sophisticated cyber-attack campaign that lasts for a prolonged period of time. A successful APT conducts a coordinated cyber-attack to maintain a presence within the target network and maintain continued access to the system using surreptitious entrance points after the initial attack.
One of the unique features of an APT is that it can take place over a long period of time, typically between a few months and a year. A successful APT will use several different attack kill chain stages. APTs, generally target high-value entities that possess a wealth of information and data.
What are the main targets of an APT?
APT campaigns require extensive research and highly skilled hackers to successfully breach the desired systems and networks. Unsurprisingly, the targets of APT campaigns are often governmental organizations and large, multinational corporations that possess a large volume of sensitive and important information.
However, APTs remains a cyber-security threat for smaller companies too. While these companies’ data may not ultimately be what the hackers are after, it has become increasingly common for small and medium-sized businesses to be used as an entry point for gaining access to a larger corporation’s networks in APT attacks.
Since these smaller businesses often do not have access to high-end cyber-security, they are easier to infiltrate, making them an ideal access point to the ultimate target. Unable to protect themselves as efficiently as larger companies with extensive resources, these smaller companies often become collateral damage in APT cyber-attacks.
How does an APT work?
An APT is generally executed by a team of experienced cybercriminals working in conjunction with large, nation states.
Hackers infiltrate targeted systems by means of network resources, web assets, or authorized human users. Often, while the initial infiltration is taking place, the APT attackers will simultaneously launch additional attacks to distract cyber-security personnel from the primary threat.
The main objective of an APT can vary from attack to attack – cybercriminals may aim to extract valuable information from their targets, perform site takeovers or simply sabotage them, their systems, and the overall functionality of their processes. Thus, the mechanics by which it takes place may vary from one instance to the next.
APT cyber-attacks occur in a three stages – infiltration, expansion and extraction.
APT attack stages
There are various steps that hackers may take to gain and maintain prolonged access to desired networks. Here’s a detailed breakdown:
Phase One: Infiltration:
- The first step of the infiltration phase is to gain access. This may be done through several ways. Most commonly, infiltration occurs using files designed to infect targeted systems, exploiting weaknesses via app or software systems, or by attacking smaller companies who are less secure.
- Once hackers have a route in, they need to solidify and establish this connection. They do this by introducing malware into the systems allowing them to move undetected APT throughout the network and modify code to cover up any suspicious activity and remain hidden.
Phase Two: Expansion:
- Once the hackers have a good hold of the system, they will expand their grasp and control. To do this, they will use a series of methods to attempt to gain access to administrator rights allowing them to gain extended access into infiltrated networks.
- Once they have achieved the above deep access, cybercriminals freely navigate their way around the system, going wherever they like and doing just about anything they please.
Phase Three: Extraction
- Operating from within the environment, hackers are able to learn how it works and its potential vulnerabilities. Consequently, this allows cybercriminals to extract specific information while maintaining a constant presence within the system. Allowing the APT process to continue or ensure guaranteed future access to the system are goals behind the APT.
What is APT in Cyber Security?
Whether a small, medium, or large organization, all face the constant and very real possibility of an APT gaining access to what are thought to be secure systems. To combat this, Sangfor offers solutions such as Endpoint Secure – an endpoint protection suite using AI detection technology.
Providing a plethora of functions, Endpoint Secure prevents the infiltration of systems, such as the spread of ransomware within networks. It can detect malicious threats and defend against them. Sangfor Endpoint Secure will ensure that companies’ data is protected continuously from even the most sophisticated and malevolent APT cyber-attacks, providing both security and peace of mind. Sangfor also provide anti-ransomware solutions and continuous threat detection. These solutions use combination of Sangfor products such as Cyber Command - an NDR Network Detection and Response Platform, NGAF - a Next Generation Firewall, SASE Sangfor Access and IAG - Internet Access Gateway.
If cyber security is at the top of your list of priorities, contact us now to learn more about the services Sangfor offers and how we can help you.