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July/August 2010

Understanding the advanced persistent threat

The term advanced persistent threat, or APT, joined the common vocabulary of the information security profession in mid-January, when Google announced its intellectual property had been the victim of a targeted attack originating from China. Google wasn't alone; more than 30 other technology firms, defense contractors and large enterprises had been penetrated by hackers using an array of social engineering, targeted malware and monitoring technologies to quietly access reams of sensitive corporate data. Google's public admission put a high-profile face on targeted attacks and the lengths attackers would go to gain access to proprietary corporate and military information. It also kicked off a spate of vendor marketing that promised counter-APT products and services that have only served to cloud the issue for security managers and operations people. In this article, we'll define APT, dispel some myths and explain what you can do about this adversary. WHAT IS THE ADVANCED PERSISTENT THREAT? The United States Air Force coined the ...

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