The Most Famous Advanced Persistent Threats in History

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The Stuxnet computer worm, discovered in June 2010, was the first piece of malware found in the public domain that is designed to spy on and subvert industrial process systems. Stuxnet was claimed to have been created by the U.S. and Israel in order to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The malware was reported to have caused substantial damage to the centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment laboratory in Iran.

The worm specifically targeted Siemens industrial software and equipment, making itself inert if the target software was not found and containing safeguards to limit the spread of the infection. It was the first piece of malware to include a programmable logic controller (PLC) rootkit. It was also programmed to erase itself on a specific date in June 2012. The design of the worm suggests that it was intended to achieve a specific objective against a particular target rather than to support a general intelligence-gathering operation.

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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