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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