Targeted attacks are the new frontier for security professionals and show the increasing sophistication of cyber criminals. They are multilayered attacks that require structured research by cyber criminals about their potential victims, such as finding out their email addresses, job titles and job functions, areas of interest, websites they frequently access, conferences they attend and so on. Once the research is done, cyber criminals choose the path of least resistance and attack employees in companies that are not well protected through security systems.
Increasingly, employees of smaller companies are under attack, as they form part of the supply chain of larger companies and are generally softer targets than those in large enterprises. Once an employee has been infected with malware, the software starts to collect data and prepares to send the data off premises. The challenge with targeted attacks is that they are very hard to uncover and typically happen under the radar of traditional security systems. Most targeted attacks are only uncovered when large amounts of data are being sent outside the organisation, which is too late to prevent reputational and financial damage to the company.
Security defenses need to get more sophisticated to protect effectively against targeted attacks. Security intelligence services correlate information from various security systems and can detect even small anomalies in network traffic and user behaviour, that would otherwise pass undetected. IDC believes that security intelligence services form an important part in protecting against new threats like targeted attacks and the constantly evolving threat landscape.
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