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A targeted attack is any malicious attack that is targeted to a specific individual, company, system or software. It may be used to extract information, disturb operations, infect machines or destroy a specific data type on a target machine.
Designed to infiltrate a particular company and associated systems, a targeted attack is primarily used to initiate corporate espionage against rival firms.
A targeted attack uses a type of crimeware or malware program designed to attack the targeted entity. First, perpetrators of target attacks typically analyze the target company/system/user, their underlying security mechanisms and potential post-attack ramifications.
For example, launching a target attack on a bank requires an understanding of its security architecture and possible loopholes. Once an attack is successful, the attacker/hacker/cracker can stop routine banking operations, illegally transfer funds and extract customer financial information.