Skip to the main content.
Talk to sales Start for free
Talk to sales Start for free

2 min read

The email connection with ATP attacks

The email connection with ATP attacks

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are advanced cyberattacks that penetrate systems and stay hidden for a long time. They represent a severe risk to email security, with the ability to reveal private patient information and cause HIPAA compliance violations.


Email in ATP attacks

Email is a prime target for APT attacks. Phishing emails, which appear harmless on the surface, are the primary mode of delivery. The attackers craft convincing, legitimate messages, often impersonating trusted sources or organizations. 

Here are some real-world examples of APTs using email:

  • APT29 (Cozy Bear) and APT28 (Fancy Bear): These two Russian APT groups are linked to various high-profile cyberattacks, including the breach of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the United States. They used phishing emails as a primary method to trick victims into downloading malware or revealing sensitive information.
  • APT32 (OceanBuffalo): APT32, a group associated with the Vietnamese government, used email phishing campaigns to target various organizations, including multinational corporations and political dissidents. They often send emails with malicious attachments or links to compromise their victims.
  • APT33 (Elfin): APT33, believed to be Iranian in origin, used phishing emails to deliver malware. They've targeted organizations in the aerospace and energy sectors, sending emails with weaponized attachments or links to malicious websites.
  • APT35 (Charming Kitten): Another Iranian APT group, APT35, is known for using spear-phishing emails to target individuals and organizations, especially those associated with Middle East politics. 
  • APT41 (Winnti Group): APT41 is a Chinese APT group that engages in cybercrime activities. They've used phishing emails to deliver malware to their targets, often exploiting software vulnerabilities to gain access to systems.
  • APT34 (OilRig): APT34, an Iranian group, used spear-phishing emails to target individuals and organizations in the Middle East. They've employed social engineering techniques to craft convincing emails encouraging recipients to open malicious documents.
  • APT1 (Comment Crew): APT1 is believed to be a Chinese military-affiliated group involved in numerous cyber espionage activities. They have used email-based spear-phishing campaigns to compromise a wide range of targets.

Go deeper: 

How to defend against email-based APT attacks

Recognize suspicious emails

Train healthcare organizations to identify phishing emails. Pay attention to these red flags:

  • Sender's address: Double-check the sender's email address, especially if it seems unusual.
  • Urgent or unusual requests: Be cautious when you receive unexpected requests for sensitive information or actions.
  • Misspellings and grammar: Poor grammar and spelling errors are common in phishing emails.
  • Attachments and links: Avoid opening attachments or clicking links from unknown sources 

Verify Requests

Before taking action, verify the sender's request by contacting them through official channels. Make it a practice to cross-check sensitive data or transactions.


Implement email security

Your healthcare organization should have email security measures in place. These can include spam filters, antivirus software, and email encryption tools. Regularly update and maintain these systems.


Stay informed

Keep up-to-date with the latest APT attack trends. Knowing the tactics APT groups employ can help you stay one step ahead. Be aware of the healthcare-specific threats and trends in your region.


Conduct regular training

Cybersecurity is a team effort. Train your colleagues to recognize and report suspicious emails. Regular training can significantly reduce the risk of email-based APT attacks.


Patch and update software

Outdated software is a prime target for APTs. Regularly update your operating systems and applications to patch known vulnerabilities.


Backup data

Frequent data backups are your safety net. If an attack succeeds, you can restore your systems and data without giving in to the attacker's demands.


Incident response plan

Have a well-defined incident response plan in place. This plan should outline what to do in case of an attack to minimize damage and restore normal operations swiftly.



Subscribe to Paubox Weekly

Every Friday we'll bring you the most important news from Paubox. Our aim is to make you smarter, faster.