Meet The Threat Actors, Part 3: What is an APT?

Andrew McIntosh | June 19, 2020

This week we’re looking at APTs!  Advanced persistent threats.

When I say the words foreign spy, you probably think of a suave James Bond type right? With a license to kill and a cheesy catchphrase. Well there may be one hidden in your network right now. Say what?

Yep – most of the wars in the world at the minute all happen on computers, out of the reach of a traditional army.

So what’s different about an APT and why are we suddenly being so dramatic about this?

See here’s the thing about an APT. They’re normally backed by a state. A nation state. From the big ones like Russia and China all the way to smaller countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, they’re all funding groups to attack companies associated with enemies of state.

But what does that mean for your business? A typical attacker is driven by money. They either try and steal your money, or your data that they can then sell to make money. It’s a cycle that’s big business for cyber criminals, but APTs aren’t interested in any of that. They just want to know what you know, and they don’t care how.

These groups are playing the long game – they don’t want to go in for a smash and grab, but would rather sit there and bide their time, amassing a trove of intellectual property, sensitive information and company secrets. And unlike the other attacks we’ve discussed before, an APT wants to get into as much of your network as they can, rather than focusing on one thing – after all the more places they are, the more data they can get.

This is starting to sound rather ominous – now we’re playing with fire – rather than indiscriminate automated systems firing off payloads willy nilly, APTs pick a target and go after them specifically. Often at the command of the nation state funding them, and most definitely because you have something of value – either strategic or monetary. Let’s take some examples by looking at the past – banks, power stations and telecommunications providers. They each have something of value – banks have money, power stations can plunge entire neighborhoods into darkness, and telecommunications providers have comms data of millions of people.

By now you’re probably thinking:

“Hold on a minute, we’re just a small company, we don’t need to care about any of this! And who cares if they’re targeting banks, they have billions of dollars and have whole security teams – we don’t need to worry.”

At Skye technologies we’re able to advise on plans to scale your businesses computing footprint as you grow, so that you’re always a step ahead, with IT supporting your business and not the other way round. Give us a call today!

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