Security Encyclopedia

Advanced Persistent Threat

Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is a general term used to describe tenacious, hidden, sophisticated cybersecurity threats against high-value targets.

APTs utilize different attack methods and systems that try to exploit known or zero-day vulnerabilities. Activities include the use of malware, network intrusion, and social engineering for a multi-layered approach. These assaults' motive is generally to install malicious software on one or more device and to have it remain undetected for a long period to surveil the target system.

APT attacks are often used for state-sponsored corporate espionage or espionage toward another government target. Motives also include the theft of intellectual property (IP) or aggregation of sensitive information on high-level persons inside the target organization. Following the extraction of such information, extortion or other use of the information to compromise personnel may follow. APTs also can be used more directly to harm and disrupt the communications and operations of the target.

APT costs in terms of expertise, manpower, computing power, and hardware resources are considerable and therefore the perpetrators are likely to be rogue governments seeking a new theater of conflict.


"The conviction of the apprehended foreign hackers responsible for last year's attack proves our suspicion that their country of origin is a hotbed of Advanced Persistent Threats, maybe even government-sponsored ones."