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A Guide to Recognising and Defending Against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

The recent statistics of Advanced Persistent Threats at the global level are alarming, revealing its persistent growth at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2022 to 2030 with a valuation of around $5.9 billion in 2021, which is estimated to touch $30.9 billion by 2030.

These troubling numbers underline the need for adequate cybersecurity strategies, such as MFA authentication, i.e., multi-factor authentication at every level, that will help battle the rise of this sophisticated cyber threat.

In this article, we shall look at a complete guide to recognise and defend against Advanced Persistent Threats.

What are Advanced Persistent Threats?

An advanced-level cyber attack through which the hackers extend their hands towards your network and try to hack highly sensitive information from your system over an ample period of time. 

Big corporations or public corporations’ networks usually face such attacks as these hackers are usually backed up with solid financial backgrounds and a high level of proficiency to manage such long-lasting cybercrime-related campaigns.

They spend a long time researching and choosing their prey and understanding vulnerabilities to take advantage of them. Such attacks can result in the loss of income and profit or IPR or can bring critical infrastructure to its knees and also damage goodwill. They are the boogeymen of attack, except they are not imaginary.

How does APT Threat Work?

Most regular or common cyberattacks are ones where the hacker hacks your system or network, gets all sensitive information, and tries to get out without getting any attention.

But that’s not the case with APT attacks; they are relatively long-term, months or even years while making sure no one detects the presence in the network. Let us understand the stages of APT in cyber security.

  1. In the first stage, the hacker tries to get access to a network, which is usually done by taking advantage of the network’s vulnerability. Malware is then deployed to the network.
  2. Next, they create a backdoor by understanding any loopholes within the system; this loophole is the next entry point if the original one is detected.
  3. Then, they move towards gaining control and administrative privileges so they can move freely around the network. This provides them access to the most sensitive data within the administration.
  4. They steal the data once they get themselves comfortable within the system. The data can be anything from passwords to codes.
  5. In the last step, they start clearing their tracks and abandon the infected network, making sure they also keep the backdoor for future entry, if needed.

Preventive Measures Against APT Attack

  • Continuously monitor the company’s data traffic by keeping your security personnel alert to any unusual conduct within the network.
  • List your applications and domains, i.e., as this ensures complete control over domain users and access to the company’s network.
  • Make sure your network points are secured with multi-factor authentication before accessing the company’s resources. 
  • Never share your necessary credentials via simple text emails or instant messages.
  • Train your staff against such situations.
  • Regularly update your software, as hackers look for common software vulnerabilities for attacking. 
  • Take your time and understand the shared links before clicking on them. Also, APT indicators like odd logins, targeted spear-phishing emails, etc., can act as warning signs. 

Conclusion

Always think one step ahead and invest wholeheartedly in robust security measures to ensure you keep your door closed for Advanced Persistent Threats.

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