Cyberwar Gone Public And That Is Dangerous.
The most feared hacker groups are what cybersecurity professionals refer to as “advanced persistent threat” (APT) actors. Unlike your average hacker breaching a server for curiosity or activism, or criminal gangs armed with ransomware and interested only in money, APTs backed by nation-states usually are among the very best. And most of the time, they are interested in just one thing: stealing secrets, and not getting caught. It’s the best way to define the hackers who burrow into networks and maintain “persistence” — a connection that can’t be stopped simply by software updates or rebooting a computer. APTs vary in their methods of gaining access. Some use targeted email phishing campaigns that install malicious software onto a victim’s machine (so do not open emails from people you don’t know), while others, more advanced groups will use “zero-day” exploits. The exploits are called “zero day” since no one knows about them until they are actually used for the first time. The software bugs were unknown, and the victim has had zero days to develop a solution to it. One such nation-state APT, four such zero-days in an attack were used against Iranian nuclear sites. One is usually enough to get the job done, so four is pretty much unheard of. And zero days are also a big business in itself. These software exploits can be bought and sold for hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars. Though sometimes it can be very hard to determine who an APT is, where they came from, or if they even have the backing of their nation’s government.
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