Advanced Persistent Threats: What Are They & How Can You Prevent Them?

January 2021

Today’s digital environment is accompanied by a series of threats. Nearly every day, major organizations are impacted by data breaches, hackers, and other types of attacks. Therefore, it’s important for all businesses to follow some cybersecurity best practices to keep their information safe. This is especially true when it comes to a relatively new type of attack known as an advanced persistent threat (APT).

An APT is a carefully targeted attack that typically occurs over an extended period of time on a business network. Hackers in an APT attack will “lurk” undetected while gaining access to sensitive files and other information, using advanced tools along the way.

The repercussions of an APT attack can be severe. However, by knowing the signs of advanced persistent threats and how to protect your data, you can keep your business safe.

Recognizing the Signs of an APT

There are a few red flags to watch for that could indicate either an attempted APT attack or one that is already in progress. These include:

Suspicious Email Attachments

Most often, APT hackers will gain access to business networks using email phishing schemes. Specifically, hackers will send out messages to employees with attachments that, when downloaded and opened, will quietly carry out the attack. If your workers see an influx of suspicious emails with attachments, this could be an APT attempt.

Unexplained Logins

Keep an eye on where the logins to your business network are coming from. If you’re noticing strange logins from unexplained locations (or at odd times of the day), this is something that needs to be investigated further, as APT hackers may be operating on the other side of the globe.

Changes in Files

APT hackers will often make copies of an organization’s sensitive files and store them in a large folder that will eventually be compressed for easy transfer. Therefore, you should keep an eye on your data for any suspicious changes. If you’re noticing files being moved to a compressed (.ZIP) folder with no explanation, this is a major red flag.

Protecting Yourself from APTs

What can you do to reduce your organization’s risk of falling victim to an APT attack? Consider these actionable tips:

Check For (and Install) Security Patches Regularly

Don’t wait to be prompted to install a security patch. You should manually check for updates at least once a week to cover your bases and cut down on vulnerabilities.

Take the Time to Educate Employees

Make sure all employees who have access to your business network receive basic cybersecurity training. Educate them on the signs of email phishing scams and how to avoid them, as well as tips for creating strong passwords.

Upgrade to Dedicated Server Hosting

If you’re not already on a dedicated server host, now is the time to make the switch. A dedicated hosting plan will offer far better security than a shared or cloud server. From DDoS protection to encryption, multi-factor authentication, and more, dedicated hosting plans provide a number of valuable features that can protect your data.
Contact ReliableSite to upgrade today!