Advanced persistent threat (APT) groups linked to the governments of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Iran have conducted cyber espionage through front companies, under the guise of legitimate technology services. The use of these front companies has allowed nation-state cyber-threat actors to enrich themselves and advance the agendas of complicit authoritarian governments at the expense of unwitting organizations. The two cyber-espionage campaigns prompted US authorities to charge and name five affiliates of “APT41”, a PRC group, and impose sanctions on “APT39”, an Iranian group. The use of front companies is expected to continue in countries that sponsor nation-state cyber espionage, and can garner threat actors millions of dollars if unabated.
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