The Most Famous Advanced Persistent Threats in History

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Operation Aurora (claimed to be original name of the operation) was a series of cyber attacks launched in 2009, reported to have originated in China. The attack used a zero-day exploit to install a malicious Trojan horse named Hydraq, designed to steal information.

Early victims of APT attacks had generally been unwilling to publicize their experience or confront the suspected perpetrators. Fear of antagonizing their attackers or upsetting their customers and shareholders discouraged public announcements and retaliatory action, which served only to encourage attackers to go even farther. To its credit, Google was an exception to this culture of silence.

In January 2010, Google disclosed the attacks, claiming that 20 other companies had also been attacked, although it is now widely believed that the number was much higher. Victims were known to include Adobe Systems, Juniper Networks and Rackspace. Many other companies that were attacked preferred to remain anonymous, although reports indicated that they included leading banks, defense contractors, security vendors, oil and gas companies as well as a number of other technology companies. The email accounts of Chinese human rights activists were targeted as well.

Many of today’s most destructive advanced persistent threats (APTs) were conceived a decade ago, so enterprises that rely on most traditional approaches to cybersecurity are unlikely to succeed against the next generation of attacks. This is one of the cautions in a new book published by global IT association ISACA in cybersecurity awareness month.

Advanced Persistent Threats: How to Manage the Risk to Your Business advises that traditional defenses such as firewalls and anti-malware are not up to the challenge of today’s APTs and that organizations need to add skills, processes and technology to their cybersecurity arsenal.

While new tools are needed to combat ever changing security threats, it is helpful to examine the history of the APT, because it is possible to derive many important lessons for defending against them in the future. The earliest use of the term “advanced persistent threat” emerged from the U.S. government sector in 2005, describing a new, deceptive form of attack that targeted selected employees and tricked them into downloading a file or accessing a website infected with Trojan horse software. This slideshow summarizes known facts, anecdotal evidence and reported claims behind some of the most well known attacks experienced over the last 15 years.


Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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