This content is part of the Essential Guide: Cyberthreats, cyber vulnerabilities, and how to fight back
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Targeted attack awareness gives firms edge against hackers

A targeted attack is becoming a high-priority threat to be on guard against, and the best defense is to understand the criminals executing the strikes. We need to know who is behind the attacks, what data is being targeted, how to spot attacks and defend against them.

A targeted attack comes in stages that can take years to plan and execute. It begins by cybercriminals discovering a vulnerability and getting in-depth knowledge about the network and devices on it and how they are protected to ensure a successful attack. Employees, too, can be targeted: Attackers learn about employees' roles in the company as well as their interests and their associates through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. Attackers then can craft personal emails that convince the receiver that they are genuine.

One sign of a targeted attack

Unusual privileged account activity is one of the first observable indicators that a targeted attack is in progress. These intrusions into networks are not performed by slapdash amateurs, but by highly professional skilled attackers who are after specific sensitive data.

Privileged accounts are the most powerful accounts in any organization and are the reason hackers are concentrating their efforts there. Hackers don't need to break through firewalls or sidestep intrusion prevention systems; with the right credentials, they can operate under the guise of someone with legitimate access rights. Your best defense is to minimize the number of privileged user accounts and some of the powers they have.

Know your enemies before they attack

It’s essential to learn more about detecting a targeted attack and the monitoring tools to use against the attackers. Do what you can to gather knowledge about the hacker organizations, criminals, terrorists, nation states and espionage rings involved, beginning with this video presentation, which will also teach you how to stop a targeted attack by monitoring suspect communications, processes and network traffic.

This video presentation gives you a place to educate yourself about a targeted attack and much more.

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