Cyber Security Terms
Indicators of Attack (IOAs)

What are Indicators of Attacks?

An Indicator of Attack is real-time evidence of a cyberattack taking place. IOAs indicate the intentions behind the attack and the likely techniques that will be implemented.

IOAs vs IOCs

The primary difference between Indicators of Attack (IOAs) and Indicators of Compromise (IOC) is their position on the cyberattack trajectory. A IOC is digital forensic evidence that's collected after a cyber attack is complete. Examples of IOCs include log activities, system memory alterations, and backdoors to malicious servers.

IOAs are collected in real time. They help security teams understand what cyberattacker are currently doing and their potential next steps. Examples of IOAs include

When used together, IOCs and IOAs offer comprehensive attack intelligence, allowing security teams to intercept unfolding attacks and adjust security controls to prevent future related compromise attempts.

Key takeaways

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    IOAs are primarily concerned with the motivations behind a cyberattack and not specific cyber threats.
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    IOC-detection methods rely on static signatures.
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    IOA-detection methods are capable of intercepting zero-day exploits not yet defined with static signatures.
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