The Josef Ressel Center for Unified Threat Intelligence on Targeted Attacks (TARGET) is a research institute operated by St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences. TARGET is funded by the Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft (CDG) and a number of industry partners.
The centre's mission is to explore innovative techniques for gaining intelligence on targeted attacks on a variety of levels. Research is aimed at developing a uniform methodology for detecting and reducing the impact of this new class of cyberthreats.
Advanced and targeted attacks
A new generation of threats has emerged in recent years. Advanced persistent threats (APTs) and advanced targeted attacks (ATAs) specifically target one particular entity. These types of attack are driven by different motives and often cause significantly more damage than bulk attacks; they are frequently performed for the purpose of espionage or sabotage and are orchestrated by experts. Several recent cases have shown that the malicious activity carried out in the course of targeted attacks can sometimes go undiscovered by the victims for months or even years. Stuxnet, a prime example which targeted the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) of sensitive industrial systems, went on for at least three years until it was uncovered. The unavoidable conclusion is that today’s threat mitigation strategies are ineffective against targeted attacks which are increasingly being aimed at less prominent targets (e.g. industrial espionage against smaller companies).