10 Types of Cybersecurity Attacks
Cybercrime is a menace for both businesses and individuals. Unfortunately, the cyber threat landscape only continues to worsen as more businesses and individuals increasingly use connected devices. According to a recent Statista report, there were approximately 817 cases of data compromises in the US in the first half of 2022 alone. During that same period, data breaches affected over 53 million people.
So, how can you protect your business from cybersecurity attacks? First, you need to be conversant with the common cybersecurity attacks, and then you can develop sound cybersecurity measures to protect against those attacks.
In this post, we’ll walk you through what cybersecurity is, the common cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and the 10 types of cybersecurity attacks you should look out for.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to the practice of safeguarding networks, devices, systems, and programs from malicious attacks. These attacks are usually designed to access, alter, or destroy sensitive data, extort money from victims using ransomware, or interrupt normal business operations.
Implementing effective cybersecurity measures is becoming increasingly difficult as more people adopt the use of connected devices and threat actors come up with more innovative attack methods.
Daily Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities
To reduce cybersecurity risks and safeguard against cyber threats, individuals and organizations must know and minimize the number of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in their ecosystem. Here’s an outline of the common cybersecurity vulnerabilities:
- Legacy or Unpatched Software: Using software past its intended service or failing to install software patches can leave your system vulnerable to zero-day attacks and all known exploits that weren’t resolved when you last installed a patch.
- Misconfiguration of Operating System/Firewall: Failure to properly configure your operating systems and firewall can result in an easy entry point for threat actors.
- Lack of Encryption or Data Sanitization Measures: Failing to sanitize or encrypt data when entering it into an IT system from an end user’s device can result in sensitive data leaking. Lack of encryption could also lead to client-side vulnerabilities, allowing Man-in-the-Middle attacks that can affect user applications and platforms.
- Old Malware: Old malware is a vulnerability given its implications after affecting a computer—it can create a backdoor for new cybersecurity attacks or become a reference point for gaining access to other computers.
- Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness: Approximately 95% of data breaches result from human errors. This is because most employees aren’t conversant with cybersecurity best practices. Training your employees to be security-aware can help improve your organization’s overall cybersecurity.
How to Improve Your Cybersecurity Plan
A cyberattack can tarnish the reputation of a business and lead to several hours of downtime. Fortunately, while new zero-day attacks can surprise users, most cybersecurity vulnerabilities can be avoided. All you need to have is a sound cybersecurity plan.
This could entail using patching and vulnerability management software, conducting frequent vulnerability scans to identify common system vulnerabilities and patching these weaknesses, performing risk assessment, and developing disaster recovery plans. It also entails conducting cybersecurity awareness training to reduce human-related vulnerabilities.
Ten Types of Cybersecurity Attacks to Look Out For
1. Malware-Based Attacks
Malware attacks are one of the most common forms of cyberattacks. Malware is a malicious software virus such as adware, spyware, ransomware, Trojans, and worms designed to disrupt or steal data from a computer, network, or server. Adware displays advertising content such as banners on a user’s screen, spyware steals all your sensitive data without your knowledge, Trojan disguises itself as legitimate software only to have your devices infected, while ransomware encrypts files on your system so you can’t access them until you pay a ransom.
Basically, a malware attack occurs when a threat actor tricks you into installing or downloading malware on your device. Upon installation, a malicious script will run in the background, bypassing your security, allowing the threat actors to access sensitive information or even hijack control.
2. Phishing Attacks
A phishing attack occurs when a threat actor sends you a fraudulent text or email (smishing), or phone call (vishing). The messages usually look like they come from a trusted individual or business—such as the bank, police, or a company like Apple or Microsoft, while in the real sense, they are from an imposter. Suppose you reply to these messages with confidential information such as your password or pin; the fraudsters can use it to take control of your account.
Phishing messages may also instruct you to open or click an email attachment that will either redirect you to a phishing website designed to steal your information, or it will download malware on your device.
3. Password Attacks
Password attacks are forms of cybersecurity attacks that entail hackers attempting to guess, brute force, or dupe you into revealing your password. There are different types of password attacks, including password spraying and brute force attacks.
Password spraying entails hackers attempting to use the same password across multiple accounts. On the other hand, brute force is where a hacker creates software that attempts different username and password combinations until they find one that works.
4. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks (MiTM)
These attacks occur when cybercriminals intercept sensitive data or breach your network to “eavesdrop” on you. Man-in-the-Middle attacks are especially common when using public Wi-Fi, which is easily hackable. For instance, say you are using Wi-Fi at a local cafe and decide to check your bank account balance. A hacker can intercept your data and capture your logins when you log in to your account using public Wi-Fi.
Hackers can also use MiTM attacks to spoof conversations—they can intrude in your conversation by using the identity of someone you usually talk to. You may unknowingly divulge sensitive information to the hackers, especially since you won’t be aware that the conversation has been spoofed.
5. SQL Injection Attacks
SQL injection attacks take place on a database-driven site when a hacker manipulates the standard SQL query. The hacker injects malicious codes into a vulnerable website’s search box, resulting in the server revealing vital information such as logins and passwords. A successful SQL injection will give the hackers administrative rights and may also allow them to view, edit, and delete data in your database.
6. Denial of Service (DOS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack
DOS attacks occur when a threat actor uses false requests and traffic to overwhelm a system and shut it down. DDoS attacks use the same technique except that the threat actor uses multiple breached devices simultaneously. DOS and DDoS attacks aren’t used to steal data; they are used to halt or even shut down business operations.
7. DNS Tunneling
DNS tunneling is the go-to attack technique for hackers looking to bypass conventional security systems such as firewalls to access networks and systems. The hackers encrypt malicious programs within the DNS queries and responses (which most security programs ignore). The hackers gain remote access to the target server once the malicious program latches onto it.
8. Zero-Day Exploits and Attacks
Zero-day exploits refer to cybersecurity vulnerabilities that exist in a network or software without the manufacturer knowing. For instance, Microsoft may launch a new product that unintentionally contains a way for threat actors to breach sensitive information in the cloud. Upon discovering the error, the attacked company has no time to fix it since they are already vulnerable.
That said, a zero-day attack occurs when threat actors exploit those vulnerabilities to gain access to a system and steal data.
9. Insider Threats
While most cybersecurity attacks come from external threats, such as a hacking group, there are times when security breaches result from insider threats. These threats occur when someone who works for an organization intentionally steals data, leaks passwords, or gives someone unauthorized access. For instance, a disgruntled former employee using their access to delete company records.
Cryptojacking occurs when a hacker manipulates you into clicking a malicious link so they can access your computer and uses its processing power to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. This will seriously slow down your computer system and make it susceptible to other potential vulnerabilities.
Let’s face it: cybercrime won’t slow down any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you should do nothing to protect yourself. Instead, you should assess your cyber security status to determine which cybersecurity attacks you are most vulnerable to and develop a sound cybersecurity plan to protect against those threats.