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GCN : August 2014
36 As advanced persistent threats grow, security managers need a layered strategy to defend their IT assets. CAN ANYTHING STOP APTs? display the destructive earmarks of advanced persistent threats (APTs), activities associated with elite hackers, often connected with foreign governments, terrorists and political groups. While government agencies are high-value targets for these cybercriminals, commercial enterprises are just as vulnerable to groups seeking intellectual property, financial information or political gain. "APTs are carried out by people who think long and hard about how they can gain a foothold in an organization to watch its internal operations, interfere with activities and steal valuable information," says Matt Mitchell, director of risk advisory services for Knowledge Consulting Group, a cybersecurity consulting firm. " e goal is to do these things without being detected for months or even years." Given the significant resources available to APT practitioners, how can organizations defend against these sophisticated attacks? Experts say the most effective APT responses combine a comprehensive strategy with the latest security tools. Why APTs Matter to Everyone APTs offer three important lessons that can help IT managers better understand and defend against even routine cyberthreats. • APTs are constantly evolving. U.S. authorities traced one of the first APT incidents to an espionage group dubbed Titan Rain, which is believed to have originated in China, to steal secrets from the U.S. government. Over time, APTs have become more diverse, as sophisticated hackers exploit gaps in mobile applications and devices as well as social networking and cloud file-sharing sites. • IT security solutions must continually evolve to address the latest threats. Endpoint security measures such as data encryption, next-generation firewalls, mobile device management (MDM) solutions When activist hackers broke into multiple federal agencies in 2012, they did something especially devious --- they kept their exploits quiet. By running in stealth mode, cyberattackers from the group known as Anonymous siphoned away sensitive information for almost a year from the Army, the Energy Department, the Health and Human Services Department, and possibly other agencies, according to a report by Reuters based on FBI sources. e trove of data included personal information about at least 104,000 staff, contractors, family members and others associated with the Energy Department, along with information on almost 20,000 bank accounts. e hacktivist group and the sophistication of the breach FEATURE | SECURITY For more on security threats and how to counter them, visit cdwg.com/NextGenSecurityInfo