What is Cyber Espionage? Complete Guide with Security Tips

Written By Sambita Panigrahy  
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh 
Published On November 29th, 2023
Reading Time 6 Minutes Reading

In today’s interconnected world, cyber espionage has emerged as a dangerous threat to governments, organizations, and individuals alike. Cyber espionage is basically counted as a type of cyber attack that steals classified, sensitive data or intellectual property to gain an advantage over a competitive company or government entity. 

Nowadays, rival nations, criminal enterprises, and even groups of hackers are increasingly employing sophisticated digital tactics to gain unauthorized access to information and intelligence. Therefore, this blog aims to guide you through an in-depth knowledge of what cyber espionage is.

So, let us first discuss what it is.

What is the Meaning of Cyber Espionage?

According to Merriam-Webster, “espionage is the practice of spying or using spies. Their target is to obtain information about sensitive plans and activities for government benefits or competitive organizations.

Now let us focus on the word espionage. This refers to the conversion activities of extracting, manipulating, or gathering confidential information from computer systems, networks, or individuals.

There are various tricks that hackers use. Instead of those traditional espionage methods, an attacker tricks vulnerable software, creates advanced malware, and utilizes social engineering techniques to infiltrate their targets. 

So,  let’s explore some additional standard tactics used by cybercriminals. 

Common Cyber Espionage Tactics

In the above section, we discussed “What is cyber espionage?” so now it’s time to take a look at cyber espionage tactics. Cyber-espionage tactics are varied.  Most of these activities are classified as advanced persistent threats (APT). This is a kind of cyberattack where a hacker infiltrates a network covertly with the goal of collecting confidential information over an extended period of time.

A cyber threat actor would meticulously prepare and design an APT to target a specific company, enabling it to evade security measures for a considerable amount of time.

Experienced teams of cybercriminals that target high-value organizations have adversaries that are typically well-funded. They spent significant time and resources identifying the vulnerability of the organization. 

Most cyber-espionage attacks also involve some kind of social engineering. This is because it helps the attackers spur activity or gather needed information from the target in order to advance the attack. This method often exploits human emotions such as excitement, curiosity, empathy, or fear to act quickly or rashly. In doing this, cybercriminals target victims by giving up personal information, downloading malware, clicking malicious links, or paying a ransom.

Note– To know more about Ransomware and the ransomware stats of this year. You can read the detailed blog on Ransomware 2023 predictions.

Other common techniques include:

  • Spear-phishing: An attacker targets specific individuals with fraudulent emails, texts, and phone calls through credential access in cyber security.
  • Inside Threats or Insider Threats: In this type of attack, a threat actor convinces an employee or an individual to share or sell information or access to the system to unauthorized users.
  • Watering Hole: This type of cyberattack targets a certain user base by infecting the websites they frequently visit. This kind of method is employed by hackers who want to conduct a cyber espionage attack.

Cyber-espionage Espionage Targets

Cyber-espionage attackers often aim to steal information from big companies, government departments, schools, research groups, etc. If the stolen information is valuable, it might be advantageous to the attacker’s organization or country. They might also target certain important people, like politicians, top business people, military intelligence, or even famous people.

cyber espionage targets

Cyber Espionage Detection, Prevention and Remediation

However, as we all know, what is cyber espionage? Therefore, detecting cyber-espionage attacks is crucial in order to prevent severe consequences. Spies have been found to break into other people’s stuff really fast.

Sometimes it only takes a few minutes or seconds. But the people who got hacked didn’t even know for months or years. It’s good to keep your computer system updated, but you need to do even more to stop cyber spies.

1. Look at behavior, Action and Anomalies

This refers to the analysis and identification of suspicious or unusual activities and patterns exhibited by threat actors engaged in cyber espionage activities. 

The advanced cyberspies try really hard to not get caught by using fancy computer programming, secret codes, and sneaky tricks to stay hidden for a long time. These attackers have special knowledge that they use to come up with new ways to attack that haven’t been seen before. 

2. Utilize a strong, Password and Multi-Factor Authentication

Online criminals most commonly use credential theft as a tactic. It is so because they frequently go unnoticed. In 2016, hackers logged into someone’s account without causing immediate worry because they had their real username and password. This is why it is important to have a strong password. 

Extra security like Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) would be a solid solution for organizations to secure their important data. They should not use the same password for multiple websites, and they need to create passwords that are hard for hackers to figure out.

3. Support BYOD( Bring your own device)

Even though BYOD is a somewhat manual solution, organizations must install administration and maintenance tools to minimize any dangers. Restrict Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices and encrypt data by using a device control mechanism. This prevents intentional or accidental data leakage. But for this method, users need to have good knowledge about what is cyber espionage.

One-Stop Solution to Protect Your Surroundings With Cyber Espionage Attack

Organizations of all types and sizes have to assume that after applying the security measures, they are still cyber-espionage targets at some point. The increase in attacks is stretching our perceptions of what is possible.

Cybersecurity services like SOC can be your counterespionage war chest. This is one of the best possible services for maximum protection. This advanced security solution protects the organization’s assistance by monitoring, preventing, detecting, and investigating.  

what is cyber espionage

With this actionable threat intelligence, real-time advanced threat protection, and native support in the cloud, you can opt for world-class services that will provide you with 27X7 protection and 360-degree services in all cyber security parameters. This will also provide comprehensive protection from the threat of cyber espionage with cutting-edge technologies and versatile experience. 


In this article, we discussed what is cyber espionage and its preventive measures. Cyber espionage poses a significant and ever-growing threat to governments, corporations, and individuals across the globe. Therefore, the complexity of these attacks requires constant vigilance, monitoring, robust security measures, and sometimes international cooperation to mitigate the risks.

In short, only by staying informed and implementing effective cybersecurity measures can we safeguard ourselves against the consequences of cyber espionage. You can protect your valuable information from falling into the wrong hands.