ADVANCED persistent threat, or APT, groups have increased their activities while ransomware attacks have declined. | W. COMMONS
ADVANCED persistent threat, or APT, groups have increased their activities while ransomware attacks have declined. | W. COMMONS

APT cyber attacks rising

APT groups are often state-sponsored and are known for launching targeted attacks against government agencies, businesses, and other organizations.

Global cybersecurity leader Fortinet has released its 2023 Global Threat Landscape Report, revealing that while ransomware attacks have declined, advanced persistent threat, or APT, groups have increased their activities.

The report found that the number of ransomware attacks fell to 13 percent in the first half of 2023, from 22 percent in the same period five years ago. However, the report also found that the attacks that did occur were more sophisticated and targeted.

"Ransomware attackers are becoming more selective about their targets," said John Maddison, Fortinet's chief security officer. "They are going after organizations that they believe are more likely to pay the ransom."

The report also found that APT groups were active in the first half of 2023. APT groups are often state-sponsored and are known for launching targeted attacks against government agencies, businesses and other organizations.

"APT groups are constantly evolving their tactics, techniques, and procedures," said Maddison. "This makes it difficult for organizations to defend themselves."

The report also found that botnets have become more persistent.

Botnets are networks of infected computers that are controlled by a single attacker. They can be used to launch a variety of attacks, including distributed denial-of-service or DDoS attacks and spam campaigns.

"Botnets are a major threat to organizations," Maddison said. "They can be used to disrupt businesses and steal sensitive data."

The report also found that the number of unique exploits has increased. An exploit is a piece of code that takes advantage of a vulnerability in software. When an exploit is used, it can allow an attacker to gain control of a computer system.

"The increase in the number of unique exploits is a worrying trend," Maddison said. "It means that organizations need to be constantly vigilant about patching their software."

The report concludes by calling for a "whole-of-society" approach to combating cybercrime. This means that governments, businesses, and individuals all need to work together to protect themselves from attack.

"Cybercrime is a global problem," said Maddison. "It requires a global solution."

The report also recommended that organizations adopt a number of security measures, including:

  • Patching software vulnerabilities promptly.
  • Using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
  • Educating employees about cyber threats.
  • Implementing a layered security approach.

The report also recommended that organizations use a security solution that can provide visibility into their entire attack surface and help them identify and respond to threats quickly.

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