St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences

Josef Ressel Center

The Josef Ressel Center for Unified Threat Intelligence on Targeted Attacks (TARGET) is a research institution operated by the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences. TARGET is funded by the Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft (CDG) and a number of industry partners.
The mission of the center is to explore novel techniques for threat intelligence on targeted attacks on different levels. The research objective is to develop a unified methodology for the detection and mitigation of this new class of cyber-threats.

Advanced and Targeted Attacks

In recent years, a new generation of threats has emerged. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) as well as Advanced Targeted Attacks (ATAs) can be characterized as highly targeted to one specific entity. These types of attacks are driven by different motivations and often cause significantly more damage than bulk attacks; often they are performed for espionage or sabotage and are orchestrated by experts. Several cases in recent history have shown that targeted attacks are sometimes able to perform their malicious activity undiscovered by their victims for many months or even years. The prime example, Stuxnet, which targeted PLCs (programmable logic controller) of sensitive industrial systems, was active for at least 3 years until discovery. It has to be concluded that today’s threat mitigation strategies are not effective against targeted attacks that are increasingly affecting less prominent targets (e.g. industrial espionage targeting smaller companies).