What Are the Different Types of Cyber Attacks?

What Are the Different Types of Cyber Attacks?
Cyberattacks refer to any deliberate effort made to gain unauthorised access to data, a digital device, a network or a computer system. Different cyber attacks include malware, phishing, ransomware and many others. Cyber attacks happen for many reasons – from theft to war – and can come in many different forms. They have the potential to destroy businesses and reputations and can lead to huge financial losses. Here we explore the different types of cyber attacks.

Malware Attacks

A malware (malicious software) is a type of intrusive software that is specifically designed to, once installed in a system, damage or disrupt from the inside – from stealing data to destroying entire computer systems. Common types of malware include viruses, worms, Trojan virus, spyware, ransomware and adware. Malware can be installed in many different ways, including through downloads, email attachments, or clicking links in malicious websites. If a user has vulnerabilities in their computer software, malware can also be installed via those. Luckily, malware can be easily prevented. Regular software updates are crucial for getting rid of any potential vulnerabilities where the malware could enter. Also installing antivirus software, firewalls or anti-spyware software is an important step. Best practices such as backing up data can help protect data in the event of a malware attack. Additionally, employee education can create a culture of security and make sure people are sensible with what they click on and know what to look out for.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks refer to fraudulent emails or messages pretending to be from a known company to encourage individuals to share personal information, such as credit card numbers or passwords. There are many different forms of phishing including: Email phishing – where the attacker sends a seemingly legitimate email designed to get the recipient to enter information Clone Phishing – these work by creating a malicious clone of a recent message you’ve received, resent from a credible looking source Spear phishing – Similarly to other phishing attacks, spear phishing uses communications that are seemingly from a trusted source. However, rather than targeting generic messages to target multiple people, spear phishing is designed to target an individual or set of individuals. For example, spear phishing is often targeted at IT or HR staff who have greater access within the organisation. Whaling – a specific type of spear phishing which targets high-profile targets within a company like senior executives to gain access to their credentials or bank details.

Signs Of A Phishing Attempt

You can keep a lookout for phishing attempts. Certain things you should always take care to avoid including:
  • Suspicious email attachments
  • Errors in spelling or grammar
  • Sense of urgency or time limit
  • Impersonal generic greetings
  • Unusual sender address

Preventative Measures Against Phishing

In addition to looking out for the above signs, you should take care to never provide your financial information, such as account numbers or passwords, over the phone or internet if you did not initiate the contact. If you believe an email looks suspicious, you should never click on the links in the email as they may contain a virus which could damage your computer.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is one which overwhelms your server with traffic to make a website unavailable. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack works similarly but uses multiple computers or devices in order to flood the server of a target resource. The technique behind both DoS and DDoS is to flood a server or crash the service entirely. When flood attacks happen, it creates too much traffic for the system server to buffer, causing them to slow down until the point of eventually stopping. Buffer overflow attacks are the most common type of DoS attack.

What Happens During A DoS Attack?

When a DoS or DDoS attack happens, it stops genuine site users from accessing the website or resources. That means that businesses can not run their usual operations and customers entering the site will not be able to get information or make a purchase – likely meaning that they’ll go elsewhere and the business will be lost.

Strategies To Mitigate Dos And Ddos Attacks

Your organisation should have a DDoS response plan in place to ensure that team members act quickly and effectively in the face of an attack. Additionally, employing DDoS protection services – having a professional team at your disposal – can protect your system at a higher level and ensure that you don’t suffer significant impact from the attack.

SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection is a type of attack which employs malicious SQL code to manipulate backend data and gain unauthorised access to data that was not meant to be displayed. This could be things such as private customer details or sensitive company data. When an SQL injection is carried out successfully, the hacker can retrieve hidden data, subvert application logic or retrieve data from different database tables. As a result, the attacker will be able to view and modify sensitive data or gain administrative rights to a database. If your organisation deals with a large volume of sensitive databases and you want to prevent SQL injection, it is recommended to enforce least-privilege or a no-trust policy.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attacks

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are when an attacker compromises a trusted website or application by injecting malicious executable scripts into the code. This can be initiated by sending a malicious link to a user and encouraging them to click it. There are various different types of XSS attacks including stored, reflected or document-object-model (DOM)-based attacks. Whatever the type, they pose serious risk to your business including damaged company reputation and credential theft. To protect against XSS attacks, companies could adopt a zero-trust approach which assumes all user input is untrusted. They can also use escaping and encoding which helps protect injection attacks.

Password Attacks

Password attacks, such as brute force attacks or credential stuffing, involve hackers gaining access by using real username and password details – which they’ve either stolen or guessed. These relatively simple hacks can have a hugely detrimental impact on companies. Password attacks are one of the easiest attacks to prevent and rely on the importance of strong passwords. Implementing good password etiquette across your company – such as strong, multi-character passwords, different passwords for each account and regularly changing passwords – can help protect the wider organisation.

Closing Thoughts

There are various different cyber attacks, varying in complexity and the way in which they are carried out. At their core, all cyber attacks are a threat to your business. It is important to strengthen your organisation’s security posture and stay vigilant to protect your data from cyber threats.