The Most Famous Advanced Persistent Threats in History

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Flame was discovered by Iran’s National Computer Emergency Response Team in 2012. It was used to mount sophisticated cyber espionage attacks on governmental ministries, educational institutions and individuals in Middle Eastern countries, infecting around 1,000 machines in Iran, Israel, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Flame malware was large and complex, designed to spread over local networks or via USB sticks. It could record audio, screenshots, keyboard activity and network traffic, including Skype® conversations. It was also capable of stealing contact information from any nearby Bluetooth®-enabled devices.

The malware was designed to be killed instantly by a remote instruction from the central command and control server. Attacks ceased when the malware was publicly disclosed. The Washington Post claimed that Flame was jointly developed by the U.S. National Security Agency, CIA and Israel’s military at least five years prior to discovery, although this was officially denied.

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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