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Watch out for APT40: China’s latest hacking threat

APT40’s recent attacks extend far beyond financial and reputational risks.

Image: © AFP
Image: © AFP

A group of international cybersecurity agencies and law enforcement are warning the business community about APT40, a Chinese hacking group that targets government organisations and key private entities. So far, eight nations have issued similar warnings about the threat the group poses.

APT40 exploits vulnerabilities in public-facing infrastructure and edge networking devices to launch cyberespionage attacks. The threat group tends to embrace exploiting vulnerable small-office and home-office (SoHo) devices as a launching pad for attacks. These devices are often softer targets.

Looking at the risk factors associated with this threat group, Howard Goodman, Technical Director at Skybox Security explains to Digital Journal what the implications are.

Goodman begins by considering the implications and consequences of an attack from the Chinese-based cybercriminals: “APT40’s recent attacks extend far beyond financial and reputational risks, posing a significant threat to national security and critical infrastructure. The group’s focus on exploiting vulnerabilities underscores the urgent need for organisations to proactively identify and manage weaknesses.”

To address such concerns Goodman says the standard response is: “Prioritizing patches based on their potential impact is paramount, especially as APT40 rapidly capitalizes on newly discovered vulnerabilities.”

While patching might not always be possible. In such circumstances, Goodman proposes: “Rigorous testing is critical, as organizations cannot afford to lose business functionality due to potential issues caused by patches. In such cases, alternative cybersecurity controls must be considered to maintain a secure environment.”

Keeping systems and technologies current is also important. Goodman states: “The targeting of outdated equipment further emphasises the necessity of maintaining a robust and comprehensive security posture. Replacing end-of-life devices that are no longer supported with security updates substantially reduces the attack surface available to APT40.”

Analysis of the problem also matters. Goodman weighs this up and finds: “Understanding the potential consequences of a breach is crucial. By assessing the financial impact and identifying the types of data most likely to be targeted, organizations can more effectively prioritize their security efforts.”

He also recommends, as part of an overall summary: “This holistic approach, combined with continuous vigilance and rapid response planning, significantly strengthens defences against sophisticated cyberespionage groups like APT40.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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