Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are attacks that gain an unauthorized foothold for the purpose of executing an extended, continuous attack over a long period of time using a variety of tools to achieve a single and specific malicious objective.
While small in number compared to other types of malicious attacks, APTs should be considered a serious, costly threat. In fact, according to the NETSCOUT Arbor 13th Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, only 16% of enterprise, government or education organizations experienced these threats in 2017, but 57% of these organizations rate them as a top concern in 2018.
Most malware executes a quick damaging attack, but APTs take a different, more strategic and stealthy approach. The attackers come in through traditional malware like Trojans or phishing, but then they cover their tracks as they secretly move around and plant their attack software throughout the network. As they gain a foothold, they can then achieve their goal – which is almost always to continually and persistently extract data – over a period of months or even years.
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