Advanced Persistent Threats, or APTs, are security threats that focus on long-term and widespread attacks. These threat actors are often large-scaled threats aimed at targets of possibility with commercial or political objectives. These “advanced” strikes are more hazardous than standard attacks because they build on three key elements of current cyber threats. Since most DoD contractors and vendors are small business owners with limited resources and assets, it’s a challenge for them keep themselves safe from APTs.
APTs are the following:
Continuous: An APT isn’t the same as a drive-by attack, data theft, or a network breach. APTs are classified according to how they infiltrate themselves into systems to increase their effect, whether that impact is to damage the system or steal data.
Clandestine: These assaults are becoming more and more covert, employing any means to conceal their operations and sources. Foreign governments have been revealed to sponsor or support several current APT threats to disrupt US infrastructure.
Sophisticated: Many cybercrime groups attempting to create and initiate ATPs can enforce some of the most sophisticated and practically innovative software globally, much to the surprise of unsuspecting security professionals in the private and public sectors, thanks to state subsidies and extremely lucrative ransoms.
Cybersecurity dangers are simpler to conceive as one-time occurrences that can be negotiated, managed, and forgotten. However, as evidenced by recent breaches on SolarWinds cloud applications, the Colonial Pipeline malware, and rising cyberattacks against private infrastructure in Moscow, Europe, and the United States, advanced attacks are shifting how we think about compliance and security, particularly in the defense supply chain.
What Do Various Aspects of an APT Entail?
The specific set of elements in a standard APT payload distinguishes an APT from other types of intrusions.
APTs are divided into five distinct stages:
APTs begin by getting unauthorized access to a computer system of DoD companies. APTs will most likely exploit known weaknesses in public-facing apps, IAM systems, and security best practices at this level. They may go back over records of reported bugs to figure out what they’ll do next. For example, the SolarWinds Sunburst exploit was linked to a.NET backdoor discovered in 2017.
Establish a Foothold: After gaining access, the APT will insert malware onto the system to begin spreading it. This virus will quickly establish back doors, smokescreens, and obfuscation to modify code and system settings without alerting admins.
Grow Roots: Once the malware is installed, the APT will spend time investigating and attacking the system by breaking passwords, searching for authorization policy holes, and transferring information. At this point, the attacking program will most likely succeed in gaining administrator access, setting bots to scan network traffic, and spreading itself on connected computers as long as it goes undetected.
Lateral Movement: Once the APT’s roots are established, it will continue to spread to associated servers and client systems, much like dandelion seeds. This was demonstrated in the SolarWinds assault, in which a centralized APT was able to infiltrate cloud systems of clients such as Microsoft, Oracle, and various government institutions.
Monitoring: As long as the APT virus stays undetected, it will monitor system operations, network traffic, and applications. At this point, the APT is only gathering data for any reason the attackers deem appropriate.
As you can see, APTs operate sneakily. APTs are one of the most severe cyber dangers contemporary corporations and government organizations face today. They are long-lasting, rapidly altering, and motivated by secrecy and advanced technology.