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What is Cyber Espionage and how can you prevent it?

Cyber Espionage

What is Cyber Espionage? 

This is a form of cyber-attack that involves the stealth of classified, sensitive data or intellectual property by an anonymous identity to provide an advantage to a competitor or government entity. These spies make use of advance persistent threats (APTs) to penetrate unsuspecting government and corporate networks without being noticed.  

Information at risk of Cyber Attack 

Common targets include: 

  • Company Information – Operations, salaries, profits 
  • Intellectual property – Private data, Research and Development   
  • Information on stakeholders – Clientele, investors, supply chain  
  • Marketing and competitive information – Marketing goals and Competitive advantage 

Methods of targeting  

From recruiting spies or double agents within an organization, the means of infiltration has evolved to ‘spear phishing,’ a technique used to gain access to an employee’s server or computer through seemingly innocuous emails links. LinkedIn has also served as a medium to recruit moles within firms to provide information on a firm’s vulnerabilities. Cyber criminals nowadays are adept at keeping their identity hidden because of their ability to navigate a company network in the same way traditional enterprise activity is carried out. 

Target of cyber espionage 

Cyber espionage is no longer restricted to the obvious targets namely financial and government entities. The target base has grown to include telecommunications companies, hotels and even universities, making it even more difficult to understand motives.  

The goal has also changed from just stealing information to now maiming the entire digital infrastructure of an organization.  

Ways to combat Cyber Espionage 

  1. It is important to try and understand the source of cyberattacks. The dynamic has changed from spies with personal agendas to entities waging cyber warfare through whatever entry point they can access. 
  2. The motive is an important determinant of the method employed for cyber espionage. The motive can be either to gain access to sensitive information, to disrupt a system or to completely shut down the digital infrastructure of an entity. Knowing the motive can help you understand what bases you are most vulnerable in case of an attack. 
  3. Knowledge is critical in today’s digital era; it is important for all firms to have external sensors to understand a hacker’s techniques to protect yourself. 
  4. Educating staff and employees is a preventive measure that can go a long way in securing your organization against threats. This includes rotating passwords, limiting user access to confidential documents and using company-approved virus and malware protection software. 
  5. Usually, the latest operating system software account for the most pertinent cyber security threats and so it should be a requirement for all employees to ensure these updates.  
  6. It is important to look at your firm’s infrastructure through the lens of a hacker. This is a proactive measure which can identify any vulnerabilities in your security mechanism beforehand. Ethical hacking or penetration testing is one way to simulate a cyber-attack in order to detect vulnerabilities and entry points for hackers.  
  7. Assessing your firm’s security and designing security policies that address all vulnerabilities is imperative to the proactive response plan companies should strive for.  

Cyber Chasse offers Penetration Testing services and designs effective security policies to act as a proactive security mechanism for firms that understand the need for Cyber Security.  

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