Nation State APT & The Business World

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by ASERT Team on

Short Summary Article

A recent article, which NETSCOUT had the opportunity to participate in, highlights the importance the corporate world holds for Nation State APT adversaries. As the article duly notes, there used to be a handful of countries publicly named for acts of cyber espionage spanning across borders. The reality today is that any nation can, and does, incorporate their own methods of cyber warfare. Ranging from simple spam messaging to sophisticated, custom malware capable of evading even the best anti-virus signatures in existence. 

Certainly, the usual players continue to target various organizations, but we also see an acceleration of countries previously silent in this arena gain a foothold as NETSCOUT is aware of some 185 APT groups around the globe. Threats to businesses largely remain the same as always; theft of intellectual property, research and development plans, or even business and go-to-market agendas can all impact an organizations bottom line and in some cases to devastating effect.

Attackers often use tried and proven methods to gain a foothold such as phishing, and in many cases spear phishing, but more sophisticated adversaries may also make use of zero-day attacks, brute force vulnerable devices, conduct social-engineering, or even gain access through physical means. Organizations may seek a layered defense approach to combat external influences that seek to disrupt or steal valuable assets and data. Because email is the primary vehicle for these threats, it becomes imperative that organizations seek to educate employees on the dangers of phishing emails and what to do in the event of a compromise. A second layer of defense may involve network monitoring to provide service assurance and integrity in the event protecting against email threats failed or attackers choose a more direct approach by targeting company servers and network assets directly. Organizational policies to address different tiers of security, as well as isolating critical business assets all play a role in building a layered defense in order to protect a businesses crown jewels.