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An advanced persistent threat (APT) is defined as a sophisticated, multi-staged cyberattack whereby an intruder establishes and maintains an undetected presence within an organization’s network over an extended period of time. 

The target may be a government or a private organization and the purpose may be to extract information for theft or to cause other harm. An APT may be launched against one entity’s systems to gain access to another high-value target. Both private criminals and state actors are known to carry out APTs. 

The groups of threat actors that pose these APTs are carefully tracked by multiple organizations. Security firm CrowdStrike tracks over 170 APT groups, and reports having observed a nearly 45% increase in interactive intrusion campaigns from 2020 to 2021. While (financial) e-crime is still the most common motive identified, nation-state espionage actions are growing more rapidly and now a strong second in frequency.

An APT is comprised of three