Hackers use various tools and techniques to spy on and attack businesses and individual users. Cyberattack tools continue to evolve and adapt, resulting in bigger and bigger breaches and losses. Gartner says that, by 2025, cybercriminals will develop operational technology capable of harming humans.
Of course, this is just as alarming for businesses, because they have to protect their data, too. IBM says that data breach costs in the US surged by 10% from 2020 to 2021. Keep your company safe from intruders of any kind by working with professionals from the best cybersecurity companies. Find human errors and exploits before hackers do to keep your information safe.
Keep yourself and your employees informed on cyber threats. Keep reading this article to learn more about seven common cyberattack types and their destructive potential.
What is a cyber security threat?
Cyber security threats are malicious attacks that affect informational devices. They refer to any attack looking to illegally access data, damage info, and disrupt digital information. Cyber threats can come from anywhere. They can be the work of hacktivists, corporate spies, terrorists and terrorist groups, criminal organizations, or hostile states. Even a lone hacker or a dissatisfied employee can turn to such tactics to derail business operations.
In recent years, the number of cyber-attacks has increased. High-profile victims fell prey to such tactics, with sensitive data made public. Equifax is a high-profile victim. In 2017 the firm’s database was compromised. As a result, over 143 million consumer profiles were exposed.
Similarly, in 2018 Marriott International announced that its guest reservation database of around 500 million customers from the United States was breached.
Both examples were possible because the organizations failed to implement technical safeguards (encryption, firewalls, authentication, etc.). Cyber-attacks can be used against individuals and companies, alike. The most damaging actions include stealing sensitive and personal data or getting access to financial accounts.
Seven types of common cyber security threats
Knowing what to avoid can make your life easier when it comes to cyber-attacks and their dangers. Working with cyber security professionals keeps your data protected against attacks. Therefore, they should know the most common types of cyber-attacks. And you should, too. Here are seven dangers commonly found in digital information sectors.
Malware is any malicious software that affects digital devices. You activate it when someone clicks on a malicious link or attachment. That’s when it starts to download and install dangerous programs on your device. Hackers use those programs covertly to infiltrate and spy on your systems. They can also create backdoors to control systems or data.
The most common types of malware are: worms, adware, trojans, spyware, and ransomware.
Monstercloud says that malware attacks are up 800% since 2020. It’s due, in part, to the increasing number of Americans working from home.
Malware can cause major info breaches leading to business operations disruption. These attacks are so popular because they can trick people into thinking they’re downloading legit software when they’re not.
Once you activate malware, it can install more harmful software to disrupt your activity, it blocks access to network components, and obtains information by accessing your hard drives. Disrupting the right parts can make your entire system inoperable.
The good news is you can protect yourself and your employees from malware. Firstly, you teach them to spot pop-ups and suspicious links. By not interacting with them, they reduce the chances of getting infected with malware.
Secondly, always keep your operating systems and software up to date to make sure any known security gaps are solved. Use trustworthy antivirus software to protect your devices and databases.
Phishing and social engineering attacks
Did you ever receive a suspicious email asking you to verify your email for a subscription you knew you didn’t sign up for? Hopefully, you didn’t click on it.
Phishing attacks try to trick the user into providing personal details of their own volition. They fake communication channels such as emails, SMS, and messages in the hopes that you’ll follow the provided instructions. They can ask you to provide your credit card number, social security number, passwords, and login info. The information is used to install malware on your machine.
Verizon’s 2020 research shows that phishing attacks are one of the most common causes of data breaches worldwide. They’re a notable root cause of many cybercrimes in recent years.
The best way to protect yourself and your business against phishing is education. Teach your employees to spot dubious emails and messages and be aware of offers that may look tempting. Always keep your antivirus updated. And don’t open suspicious links. Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication and email protection software.
DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service
DDoS or Distributed Denial of service is an attack that disrupts site traffic. It can affect servers, applications, websites, services, or networks. It overwhelms its target with floods of traffic coming from compromised computer networks. As a result, real users can’t use those sites or services.
A famous DDoS attack happened in 2018 when Github was hit with 1.35 terabits of traffic per second. It resulted in over 20 minutes of offline time for the platform.
DDoS attacks are extremely common nowadays. In 2020, they increased by 50% compared to the previous year, as Kaspersky says. Some hackers use built-in backdoors to hack software systems and steal data or plant viruses. Trojan backdoors give hackers access to the hardware they’re installed on. They’re frequently used on high-priority and high-security systems. So, how can you protect yourself from this increasing danger?
Identifying DDoS attacks is difficult because you can’t usually separate them from genuine traffic. You can try to block all traffic for little periods and rate-limit the traffic to your website. Another way to protect yourself is to use a web app firewall that detects suspicious traffic patterns across networks.
DNS or Domain name system attacks compromise entire networks. They translate IP addresses and turn them into readable URLs. When such an attack happens, the whole domain name system is compromised. This is when the attacker gains control over the entire network and steals or destroys sensitive data.
There are different attack types involving DNS security threats. Some create tunnels between victims and attackers to send malware through. Others use domain generation algorithms to escape your security measures and keep attacking. Fast flux uses multiple IP addresses and fake domains to confuse IP controls and get into a secure network. Some attackers build variants of active domains to fool users, although they’re harder to detect.
XSS – Cross-Site Scripting
Cross-site scripting attacks manipulate apps and networks to send malicious scripts to browsers. In other words, the hacker infects trusted apps and websites with malicious code. When someone visits that site, the attacker hacks the communication path between the platform and the user.
Then, the attacker can steal data such as bank details or login certificates. Or they can perform actions the user would normally do.
Protect yourself by using a security mechanism and filter received data. Encode data you send to users to make sure it’s not easy to decipher. Detect compromised apps or networks by using a vulnerability scanner.
Man-in-the-Middle attacks are sneakily used to steal information. The hacker intercepts communication between two parties (a user and a website) and monitors them covertly. This type of attack is commonly used to steal personal and company data. Alternatively, it sends the data to another destination.
Although they’re not the most common cyber-threat, MitM attacks are pretty popular because they’re harder to spot than malware. And they’re easier to use since more employees are working remotely now.
A famous example is faking a Wi-Fi network, like the one at a coffee shop. Many remote employees prefer them. People connect to it, maybe without realizing it, and they allow hackers to spy on them and steal data.
Protect yourself against MitM attacks by using end-to-end encryption protocols. Ask your employees to use VPNs to access company virtual assets and networks when connected to public Wi-Fi. It ensures that the information they share remains private, regardless of the network owner.
Mobile device attacks
Many organizations are increasing their online presence with mobility. Mobile workforces improve productivity and efficiency. So, it’s proving to be a great option. But hackers know this, too. So, they’re targeting mobile devices more, putting entire databases at risk.
A commonly known mobile attack is the use of phishing text messages. By clicking on links in those messages you allow malicious software to install. It can monitor you through your camera and microphone and steal your login credentials or personal data.
Protect yourself and your employees by using a powerful enterprise mobility management program. Alternate it with mobile device management tools to protect your sensitive company data. Secure devices with multi-factor authentication.
Other types of cyber security threats
You can protect your personal and company data from cyber-attacks by knowing what dangers are lurking out there. Here are a few additional examples of cyber-attack methods commonly found online:
- Ransomware – Gartner says that around 27% of reported malware incidents in 2020 were due to this threat. Remote work environments are making it easier for ransomware tools to do their magic to the detriment of your personal and sensitive information. An attack can mean you’re locked out of your system and some basic computer functions are locked until you pay the ransom appearing on screen. Others encrypt documents and files and ask for ransom in exchange for releasing the document keys.
- Credential stuffing – Brute-force attacks where hackers use the login credentials they previously stole to access user accounts on other platforms. It’s possible mainly because people reuse the same login info across platforms.
- Password attacks – hackers try to guess user passwords from lists with commonly used passwords.
- Emotet – It’s a banking Trojan that works as a downloader of other trojans. It’s a very effective and destructive malware for banking systems.
- SQL injection – It uses SQL code to influence network security and gain access to data. Once it penetrated the system, it allows the hacker to steal, modify or delete data, resulting in breaches.
How cyber security evolves
Cyber-attacks continue to shape the evolution of cyber-security practices. People studying cyber security focus mostly on the following:
- The internet of things – Now, there are more individual devices that connect to the internet than ever. That’s what hackers target: smart home and internet of things devices like voice assistants, smart TVs, baby monitors, or smartphones. When they manage to compromise connected devices, they get access to user data and credentials, making it easier to gain access to sensitive information (medical and financial records, for example).
- The explosion of data – People storing their data on different devices are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks because hackers find entry points into networks through personal devices.
Companies, organizations, and government agencies need the best cyber security options around to protect their information and operations. Understanding how to deal with the latest cyber-security issues is essential for professionals in the field. This is the reason many big organizations hires Certified Ethical Hacker to enhance their cyber security.
Technology and user awareness go hand in hand when talking about preventing cyber-attacks. Many tools and security training software help you build a good defense mechanism against hackers and malicious software.
Prevent most cyberattacks mentioned in this article by implementing strong authentication protocols. Work on educating yourself and your employees about common cyberattack types and security. Develop good behavior routines related to cybersecurity at home and the workplace.