New cyber threat targets SMBs

Security awareness training firm KnowBe4 warned of a new security threat to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). The threat, called Advanced Persistent Threat, or APT, is usually initiated via spear-phishing attacks orchestrated by teams of fraudsters, according to KnowBe4. The attack targets company executives who have access to businesses’ most sensitive and secure information. KnowBe4 said APTs are typically sponsored by governments that have the capabilities and intent to persistently target specific entities.

KnowBe4 founder and Chief Executive Officer Stu Sjouwerman explained how the attacks work. Fraudsters target a business and hone in on key employees, then research and harvest data about those individuals, including emails, pictures and financial records.

Sjouwerman said the APT then carries out its attack by sending the target an email from a seemingly recognized source. The email contains an attachment. When the attachment is opened, the computer is infected with malware that allows fraudsters to gain undetected access to the organization’s computer system. Sjouwerman noted that victims may remain unaware of the virus for years because of the subtle nature of the attack.

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