Ashley Madison Hack – Are APTs the Culprit?

ashley-madisonAs hacking groups methods become more advanced, how can you protect your business from their watchful eye?

Earlier this week it was uncovered that adult infidelity site, Ashley Madison, was subject to a huge hacking by a group known as ‘The Impact Team’. The news comes as next in line to a string of high profile online hacking cases that have included the likes of Target, Starbucks and XBOX among a host of others. In the case of Ashley Madison, some 37 million user profiles from across the globe are said to have been obtained by the hacking group making it a worldwide issue.

Such news is worrying to pretty much anyone who has ever purchased or joined up to a website online – which will include the vast majority, let alone a website designed around secrecy and cheating partners… With the hackers continually evolving however, so is the technology designed to prevent them in the race to keep one step ahead. APTs or Advanced Persistent Threats are a set of hacking processes which, as the name suggests, continually attack a target until a way in is found, often with a severe outcome for the victim. What’s worse is that APTs can sit there completely undetected, despite an antivirus solution being in place. As a result of the introduction of APTs, WatchGuard have developed an add-on to their Firewall Solutions named the APT Blocker.

Some simple research into facts and figures of cyber-crime brings up some truly shocking statistics and reinforces the importance of protecting your business no matter how big or small it is. Some statistics you should be aware of as a business owner include:

- 44% of small business owners have been victims of cyber-attacks
– £1.46 million is the average cost per attack on a large businesses!
– 60% of small businesses hit by a cyber-attack go out of business within 6 months of the attack

APTs nature of persistence yet remaining undetected makes them incredibly dangerous and if not protected against, data breaches such as the latest Ashley Madison case can occur.

So how can you protect yourself from the seemingly unidentifiable and unceasing persistence of these hacking methods?

watchguard APT

WatchGuard XTM 800 series Firewall

WatchGuard have developed the APT Blocker as an answer to eliminating APTs from entering your hosting devices. Whereas traditional antivirus software relies on tracking the signatures left behind from incoming threats, APTs have no signatures to detect so will be missed (although traditional antivirus software is still important as a first line of defence). This leads on to another statistic whereby nearly 88% of today’s malware can morph to avoid detection – scary stuff!

With WatchGuard’s APT Blocker in place, all files sent to your network are scanned in a Sandbox before being able to enter your hosting device. This process results in malware being detected in the Sandbox and reported to the user in an easy to use interface. Once an APT has been detected the user can decide what action they want to take for the incoming file.

The file types analysed by APT Blocker include:

- All Windows executable files
– Adobe PDF files
– Microsoft Office files, including Excel, Word, Visio and PowerPoint
– Android Application Installer (.apk) files
– Packaged files, like Windows .zip files, are decompressed

APT Blocker is available as an upgrade to your existing WatchGuard firewall solution and is quick and easy to install. To find out more and start protecting your business against APTs today please contact us here or call our experts on 0845 293 2790.

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