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Analysis of Advanced Persistent Threat Email Attack Vectors


In the past few years crimes carried out within the cyber-domain have increased in

sophistication and narrowed to targets providing the greatest return value. (Ghafir & Přenosil,

2015, p. 34) In 2018 alone phishing email attack vectors accounted for 26,379 individuals losing

a total of over forty-eight million dollars. That figure does not account for the crimes which go

unreported. (Internet Crime Complaint Center, 2019) Phishing email attack vectors and other

social engineering attack vectors are among the highest concern for any organizational entity as

it exploits the employee. (Sebescen & Vitak, 2017, p. 2238) Phishing emails have been very

successful in recent years partially due to favorable technical and economic conditions.

(Milletary, 2013, p. 1) Keeping that in mind, it a frightening fact that the presence of malicious

phishing campaigns has steadily continued to increase. Some of these malicious phishing

campaigns have been tied back to nation-state threat actors including Advanced Persistent

Threats (APTs) and malicious e-crime groups. (Verizon, 2016, p. 12) APT actors have been

observed implementing phishing email attack vectors in their campaigns. The effectiveness of

phishing email attack vectors may explain why the most devious cybercrime organizations

choose to employ them.


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