More than one a hundred threat actors and sophisticated malicious operations are targeting commercial and government institutions in 85 countries. The threats, which were tracked by the Kaspersky Lab Global Research and Analyst team show that the threats are actively on the rise. A lot of new actors are coming to the stage, significantly raising the overall levels of danger.
Targeted attacks are not an elite activity anymore. While in previous years this kind of operation would require a lot of specialists with specific skills and a lot of funding, nowadays Kaspersky Lab researchers are observing the emergence of smaller – and not necessarily sophisticated – yet efficient cyberespionage campaigns. These groups are hunting for sensitive information, which can be used to gain geopolitical advantages or even sold to anyone willing to pay.
Based on the analysis of the intelligence gathered on these campaigns, the top list of organisations, which are more at risk than others of becoming a target of cyber espionage, or a sophisticated cybercriminal operation include, Government and diplomatic organisations, financial institutions, energy companies, telecommunications companies. aerospace organisations, military contractors, educational organisations, healthcare organisations, activists, IT companies and diplomatic organisations
Targeted attacks are a major problem because the tactics of almost any of the existing groups involve utilising tools that overcome traditional endpoint and network protection solutions. Even if solutions are effective in regards to usual, and some sophisticated, malware, they cannot provide a 100% detection guarantee when it comes to targeted attacks. This is because actors behind sophisticated campaigns are professionals in social engineering, they may use zero-day vulnerabilities, and they’re increasingly using legitimate tools for remote access instead of actual malware. That is why reliable security software in a corporate IT infrastructure must be accompanied by intelligence nowadays – security teams need to be backed up with expertise, so that they know when to be alarmed, and what clues to look for if their organisation becomes a threat actor target.
“We’ve been tracking sophisticated targeted attacks for more than six years now and we have seen this kind of activity become a widely used tool for espionage and money theft. Targeted attacks can affect many different types of organisations, it’s not just governments that are affected. Multiple commercial organisations – especially from the enterprise sector – are in danger as well.’’ Costin Raiu, Director of Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab said. ‘’They might become an organisation of interest for attackers because they cooperate with government and military entities, or because they hold valuable intellectual property, or just because they have access to large financial assets.’’
In this situation Costin says getting an early warning on an emerging malicious campaign targeting a certain type of organisation is crucial for entities that are willing to protect their sensitive data reliably. Intelligence based services that make it possible for enterprise security teams to access data about the latest sophisticated threats is a must nowadays.