Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

Posted by in (ISC)2, CISSP, Security+, SSCP | 0 comments

Advanced Persistent Threat

Cyber-attacks have become much more sophisticated over the years. So much so that a new term has emerged: advanced persistent threat (APT). An APT is group of individuals that have both the means and the intent to launch persistent attacks against specific targets. Understanding these groups and their behavior is important when evaluating threats against any organization. Their methods are relevant for anyone studying for either Security+ or SSCP exams.

APTs are often sponsored by foreign governments, and they often launch attacks against other governments for espionage purposes. However, APTs can launch attacks against any organization.

An Advanced Persistent Threat Gathers Data

Imagine if a group of people had an unlimited amount of money and time, and they were tasked with exploiting as many government computers as they could in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC.

IP addresses are issued geographically, so it’s a rather simple matter to discover what IP addresses are issued in Arlington. ICMP sweep (or host enumeration sweep) tools can help identify which IP addresses are actually operational, similar to how a ping can identify if a system is up. Many firewalls block ICMP sweeps so if it fails, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the host is not operational. However, if it succeeds, it certainly verifies it is operational. Other tools such as Geobytes can help them get additional public information about the IP address.

The APT can then use port scanning tools such as Nmap or Nessus to get additional information on each IP address. If a port is open, it provides insight into what services and protocols are running on a system. For example, if port 25 is open, the Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP) is running on the system.

Many port scanning tools can also send special types of packets to the server and analyze the responses to gain additional information on the system. For example, a Christmas tree packet (identified as an Xmas attack in the SY0-301 Security+ exam) takes advantage of the fact that different operating systems respond to protocols with slight modifications. These scans can often identify the operating system, and the version of the system.

For example, Cisco IOS and Windows systems respond differently to different types of queries. In some cases, the attacker can use these tools to also identify applications. If port 25 is open, it indicates that SMTP is running and additional queries can identify if it’s an email server. In many cases, it’s possible to identify the email application such as if it’s a Microsoft Exchange server, and even what version of Microsoft Exchange it’s using.

They record all this information into a database. In some cases, the APT may be to exploit vulnerabilities in systems they find. In other cases, all they’re able to do is collect and record the data. And wait for an opportunity.

Security+ Full Access Package

Get Certified Get Ahead Security+

Pass the First Time!

Up-to-date Content

New multiple-choice and performance-based questions added regularly

Pass the first time with quality practice test questions, performance-based questions, flashcards, and audio.

Buy The Full Access Study Package Today

60 Days Access

Need more time? You can easily renew for another 60 days at a significantly reduced price.

All materials are available online shortly after making your payment.

Get the Security+ Full Access Study Package Here

Our online Security+ study materials are the perfect complement to the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. They can also be used to help ensure you're ready no matter what study guide you're using.

This exam is expensive.

Make sure you're ready before exam day. 

Here's what you'll get:
  • All of the multiple-choice questions from the best-selling CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. See a demo here. All questions have full explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.
  • Over 40 new multiple-choice questions we've added after publishing the study guide.
  • Over 30 performance-based questions. See a demo here.
  • All of the flashcards from the study guide. View them in any Web browser.
  • All of the audio from the study guide. Listen to a sample here.
  • Access to a free discount code for 10% off your Security+ voucher.

Buy The Full Access Study Package Today

60 Days Access

All materials are available online shortly after making your payment.

Get the Security+ Full Access Study Package Here

An Advanced Persistent Threat Looks for Vulnerabilities

Other parts of the APT focus on identifying vulnerabilities, and exploiting them. For example, if an exploit is discovered in Microsoft Exchange, the APT searches the database to locate servers hosting Microsoft Exchange. They can then launch the attack and exploit the servers in their database. Similarly, if an exploit is discovered on web servers, they search their database and launch this attack on the web servers in their target area.

This describes how one part of an APT may be focused on government computers in Arlington. However, another team may be focused on government computers in Washington, DC, another in New York, another in Atlanta, and on and on. Similarly, teams can focus on specific organizations such as Google.com, Amazon.com, or any other company that may have information of interest.

These attackers are always present and always searching for vulnerabilities. An organization can be vigilant with security 99 percent of the time, but if they let their guard down for just a short time, the APT is ready to exploit it.  Among other things, this also helps to understand the importance of a defense in depth practice. Even if a vulnerability exists in one area (such as on the mail server), other protections help prevent the attacker from getting any further.

Security+ Practice Test Questions

SY0-501 Practice Test Questions 

Over 300 realistic Security+ practice test questions

All questions include explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct,

and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.

Pass the Security+ Exam

the First Time You Take It

Multiple quiz formats to let you use these questions based on the way you learn.
  • Learn mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Learn mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. Use this if you want to make sure that you see all of the questions. Learn mode allows you to keep selecting answers until you select the correct answer. Once you select the correct answer, you'll see the explanation. Click here to see how learn mode works.
  • Test mode - randomized. View each of the questions in random order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
  • Test mode - not randomized. View each of the questions in the same order. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.
  • Test mode - 75 random questions. View 75 random questions from the full test bank similar to how the Security+ exam has a potential maximum of 75 multiple choice questions. In test mode, you can only see the correct answers and explanations after you complete the test. Click here to see how test mode works.

Get the full bank of SY0-501 Practice Test Questions Here

 SY0-501 Practice Test Questions


INCLUDES QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU PREPARE

FOR THE NEW PERFORMANCE BASED QUESTIONS 

Bonus - Performance Based Questions

Three sets of performance-based questions including over 30 questions. These questions show you what you can expect in the live exam. They include drag and drop, matching, sorting, and fill in the blank questions. See a demo here.

Bonus - Extra Practice Test Questions

New multiple-choice questions in the extra test bank. Questions are added occasionally. You can see what has been added recently here.

Get the full bank of Security+ (SYO-501) Practice Test Questions Here

Get the full bank of Security+ Practice Test Questions

Click here if you're looking for SY0-501 Full Study Package

Security+ Full Access Package

Get Certified Get Ahead Security+

Pass the First Time!

Up-to-date Content

New multiple-choice and performance-based questions added regularly

Pass the first time with quality practice test questions, performance-based questions, flashcards, and audio.

Buy The Full Access Study Package Today

60 Days Access

Need more time? You can easily renew for another 60 days at a significantly reduced price.

All materials are available online shortly after making your payment.

Get the Security+ Full Access Study Package Here

Our online Security+ study materials are the perfect complement to the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. They can also be used to help ensure you're ready no matter what study guide you're using.

This exam is expensive.

Make sure you're ready before exam day. 

Here's what you'll get:
  • All of the multiple-choice questions from the best-selling CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide. See a demo here. All questions have full explanations so you'll know why the correct answers are correct and why the incorrect answers are incorrect.
  • Over 40 new multiple-choice questions we've added after publishing the study guide.
  • Over 30 performance-based questions. See a demo here.
  • All of the flashcards from the study guide. View them in any Web browser.
  • All of the audio from the study guide. Listen to a sample here.
  • Access to a free discount code for 10% off your Security+ voucher.

Buy The Full Access Study Package Today

60 Days Access

All materials are available online shortly after making your payment.

Get the Security+ Full Access Study Package Here

Advanced Persistent Threat Summary

If you’re working in the IT field, and especially if you’re studying for a security certification, it’s important to understand an advanced persistent threat. The attackers aren’t bored teenagers randomly attacking computers on the Internet. They are much more sophisticated.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

CompTIA Security+ Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list and get a free excerpt of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-501 Study Guide.  This excerpt includes the introduction and Chapter 1. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Get Certified Get Ahead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Copyright © 2015 Get Certified Get Ahead. All Rights Reserved.