An advanced persistent threat (APT) generally refers to a sustained and targeted cyber-attack in which the attackers gain access to a corporate network and remain undetected for an extended period of time. APT attacks are usually targeted at organizations in sectors such as national security, manufacturing, and the financial industry because of their high-value data. These cybercriminals work hard to remain undetected as they secretly take control of your company’s data. Let’s look at how you can detect APT if you have one and what you can do about it.
Although your business may not be the type of organization that attracts the attention of well-funded and well-organized hacker groups or rogue nation-states, you need to note that the primary goal of the intruder is to steal data instead of causing network harm. That means a malicious outsider or an insider can launch an APT. The last thing these hackers want is for their presence to be noticed and thrown out by you.
Signs of a Persistent Advanced Threat
Though it is very difficult to detect one, you will begin to note subtle variations that suggest something occurring out of the ordinary in the event of an advanced persistent threat. Let’s take a look at some spooky activity in the ERP system that may suggest the existence of an APT.
The most common consequence of an APT is payroll fraud
Perhaps anomalies are found by the payroll department: numerous direct deposits are wired to the same account; workers who have opted for paper paychecks instead of direct deposit reports are no longer receiving their mail. Or you can note the sudden creation of high-privileged user accounts during a regular security audit, but the logs show no entries that indicate who requested or authorized them.
A sign of an APT can be the context of access
There are other signs of abnormal activity in your ERP system, such as regular account after-hours activity, excessive login errors, and suspicious access, and mysterious IP addresses from overseas locations. Regardless of the signals, starting an investigation is your next move. To remain hidden, the advanced persistent threat is counting on your inactivity.
Stave-Off APTs Using A Layered Security Approach
Companies using legacy ERP programs are often left in the dark when abnormal activity shows itself. Such systems lack the granular visibility that is necessary for locating and eliminating malicious actors in data access and usage.
Data security and analytics applications exist that allow enterprises to follow a layered security strategy that includes dynamic authentication and authorization controls, along with real-time monitoring that offers insight on when and by whom data is accessed. These solutions incorporate these additional protection layers within your ERP framework to help ensure that even if it is haunted by an APT (e.g., legitimate login credentials stolen by a phishing attack), data is still secured.
Apart from all the other cybersecurity threats that go bump in the night, any enterprise is susceptible to advanced persistent threats, regardless of size or industry. Prevention and early detection are the strongest protection against accessing and stealing your company’s information by these cybercriminals.