Emerging Cyber Threats for 2012 - Slide 14

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Advanced Persistent Threats

Attack sophistication largely depends on the security of the selected target. If an attack on critical infrastructure or corporate data theft can be accomplished via traditional phishing and com­mon exploit kits, adversaries will not use advanced techniques. The term, “advanced persistent threat” is also misused or confused with Hacktivists attempting to change industry or government behavior via organized cyber activity — typically denial-of-service campaigns or the posting of compromised sensitive data designed to publicly embarrass an organization or cripple operations.

“The tools, procedures and other controls used to defend commod­ity security threats are often ineffective against targeted APTs,” said Hensley. “When actors are focused on a specific target, they custom­ize and adapt their tactics, techniques and procedures to predict and circumvent security controls and standard incident responses.”

According to Hensley, an organization can be plagued by a single APT exploitation for months or years — even after it is aware of the effort. The incident response drags on as threat actors continually respond to defensive measures and look for new security weak­nesses. “Advanced persistent actors have clear objectives with cen­tralized planning and often decentralized execution,” said Hensley. “These adversaries are highly resourced, methodical, adaptive, resilient, advanced enough and clearly patient.”

In the past year, we have witnessed cyber attacks of unprecedented sophistication and reach. These attacks demonstrate that malicious actors have the ability to com­promise and control millions of computers that belong to governments, private enterprises and ordinary citizens. If we are going to prevent motivated adversaries from attack­ing our systems, stealing our data and harming our critical infrastructure, the broader community of security research­ers — including academia, the private sector and govern­ment — must work together to understand emerging threats and to develop proactive security solutions to safeguard the Internet and physical infrastructure that relies on it.

This slideshow features emerging cyber threats for 2012, identified by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and the Georgia Tech Research

Institute.

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