All cyber-attackers aren't equal. Focus more attention on exploits made just for you
Not so long ago, the main threats in cyber-security were random: viruses and worms that crawled across the entire Internet, or malware buried in spammy email blasts. Enterprises coped with the problem with protective screens that recognized and blocked these random attacks, as an umbrella keeps off the rain.
Today, the most dangerous attacks are no longer random. They are targeted specifically to steal or damage data from a specific organization, or even from specific systems and people in that organization. The targets aren't always large companies or government agencies; targeted attacks can be launched against government contractors, media firms, or even small businesses. Targeted attacks are the attack vector of choice for sophisticated cyber-criminals, and against certain exploits, existing enterprise defenses are about as effective as an umbrella against a surprise Super Soaker attack.
Targeted attackers sometimes spend months, even years, scouting their targets. They'll probe for weaknesses and pinpoint vulnerabilities that can be used in a tailored attack. That first vulnerability may get them the crown jewels right away, but typically, targeted attacks are a multistep process. Attackers start by gaining a foothold in the target's infrastructure. Once inside, they'll quietly scope out the network, looking for further points of attack and ways to access specific information.
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Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading. View Full Bio