10 Most Common Cyberattacks

Cybercrime is at an all-time high, and it isn’t going away any time soon. While cybercriminals and hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to breach technology systems, they frequently rely on a handful of reliable attacks. Knowing these attacks can dramatically improve your ability to protect your systems and respond to breaches. Be on the lookout for the following 10 techniques and attacks cybercriminals use again and again.

1. Phishing and Spear-Phishing

Phishing is by far the most common type of cyberattack and the most effective. In these attacks, a criminal tries to convince their target to share information or perform an action of some kind. On a basic level, the criminal may want to gain a password or a small cash sum. More advanced phishing, however, could be part of a multi-staged attack that uses stolen information to gain additional access or inject a more damaging attack into a target’s systems.

Spear-Phishing is a targeted phishing attack where the cybercriminal knows some key piece of information about the target. For example, if the target posts about a vacation on Facebook, the criminal could pose as a bank saying their card information was stolen. If the target falls for this, they might reveal their bank details or other information which could lead to actual money being stolen by the cybercriminal.

2. Malware

Malware is a broad label for attacks which use a piece of malicious software to perform any number of damaging actions. Some common types of Malwares are:

  1. Key Loggers: these programs silently record everything typed on the computer and send it to a cybercriminal. They can be used to capture passwords, emails or messages, and other sensitive information.
  2. Trojan Horse Viruses: this type of program pretends to be a legitimate piece of software but when it runs, the Trojan secretly installs its malicious payload. Trojans commonly other Malware like key loggers, remote control software, or ransomware.
  3. Ransomware: one of the most damaging attacks, Ransomware silently spreads to an entire network of computers and then locks them down. This brutal attack steals the data off the computers it affects and promises to completely wipe the computers if a ransom is not paid by the hacker’s deadline.

Aside from these three there are a near infinite number of malicious programs out in the web. Some might use your computer to mine cryptocurrency while others could simply make your computer so slow its unusable. In any case, Malware is something to always be wary of.

3. Password Attacks

Passwords are the first line of protection for accounts, services, and data of all kinds. Unless you have Multifactor Authentication (MFA) enabled, a hacker with one of your passwords will have access to everything in that account. For this reason, it is extremely lucrative for hackers to attempt to ‘crack’ passwords on high value accounts.

A cybercriminal might use any number of methods to gain access to a password. Common tactics for gaining passwords are phishing or spear-phishing attempts, key loggers, buying stolen passwords on the ark web, using an AI to guess common passwords (dictionary attack), or simply trying to guess a wide variety of passwords (brute-force attack).

4. Man-in-the-Middle Attack

A Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack is a sophisticated technique where a hacker intercepts communication between two parties. In this attack, the hacker pretends to be both parties involved with the communication. When the first person sends their message, the hacker receives it instead of their target. Then the hacker can edit the message and send it to the target party or simply stop it from arriving at all.

The damage this kind of attack can cause is easy to imagine. If the cybercriminal manages to get a MITM setup between a company and its bank, insurance, vendor partners, or clients the consequences can be catastrophic.

5. Denial of Service (DoS and DDos)

Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are powerful tools for cybercriminals to cause damage to a service. In a DoS attack, the hacker targets a website, application, or network with an incredible number of requests (login attempts, form submissions, connections, etc.) every second. The server hosting the hacker’s target can’t keep up with the requests and so begins to experience issues. The service may become slower for everyone using it or shut down entirely. In some cases, the DoS attack can cause new security vulnerabilities to open as well.

A DDoS attack is very similar to a standard DoS attack, but it takes place on a far greater scale. The hacker creates a network of robot tools (also known as a ‘botnet’) by implanting malware on a large number of computers. When the attack begins, the malware takes control of infected computers and forces them to participate in the attack. The effect of so many hostile connections is often catastrophic.

6. SQL Injection

A server query language (SQL) injection attack is an advanced method of manipulating insecure websites or databases. If a website or database isn’t designed correctly, it can read entries into comment or search boxes as executable code. A hacker who knows how SQL databases work can force the server to run malicious code instead of simply submitting a comment or search. This can allow a hacker to gain illicit access, sensitive data, or even control of the system.

7. Drive-By Attacks

Drive-by attacks are another method for taking advantage of unsecure websites. In this attack, a cybercriminal will silently implant malware or other harmful material onto a website. When someone visits the site, the hacker’s programs will automatically download and run themselves on the visitor’s computer. This can happen even if the visitor to the site doesn’t click on any links or leaves almost immediately, thus the name ‘drive-by’ attack.

8. URL Poisoning

URL poisoning is a technique where the cybercriminal attempts to gain access to a site by guessing hidden URLs. This attack also is called ‘URL interpretation’ because the hacker is trying to interpret how a site is structured. For example, if you have ‘mysite.com’ a hacker might guess the management portal for that website to be ‘mysite.com/admin’ or ‘mysite.com/login’. If they guess correctly, they can use a stolen password or brute-force attack to login. Once the cybercriminal has access to the site, they can make edits, steal data, or do other damage such as implanting drive-by attacks.

9. Insider Threat

While we always want to trust our team, sometimes the worst threats are from those we’re closest to. A sufficiently knowledgeable and motivated employee (or former employee) can do considerable harm to a business. The insider could be blackmailed into helping a cybercriminal, steal data to sell or ransom, intentionally decrease security in a company’s systems, willingly collaborate with a cybercriminal, or simply cause malicious internal damage. For these reasons, it is incredibly important to have internal checks-and-balances, a minimum viable permissions structure, and effective employee offboarding procedures.

Additionally, an insider could create a threat unintentionally. They may have been breached without knowledge, fallen victim to a social engineering attack, or otherwise accidentally given away sensitive information.

10. Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks

Finally, we have the IOT attack. While a lesser risk than many of the techniques on this list, the internet of things is growing with dramatic speed. Each connection to the internet causes a new avenue for hackers to test your security and gain access. Common devices like Amazon Echoes, Google Homes, smart fridges and other kitchen appliances, smart TVs and entertainment systems, cars connecting to the internet, tablets, and so on each provide additional opportunities for criminals. As the prevalence of IOT devices grows, so too will the need for effective security and management of them.

Concerned about Cybersecurity? We Can Help.

Learning about the world of cybersecurity can make the idea of protecting your data seem hopeless. Despite what cybercriminals and hackers want you to think, there are tried and true methods for defending your company and stopping cyberattacks. Here are five techniques you can use to immediately start securing your business.

While these steps can help get you started on your cybersecurity journey, they certainly won’t protect you from everything cybercriminals have at their disposal. The most effective way to defend your data is to partner with IT security experts. If you’re ready to start your cybersecurity journey with a free security audit, or simply want to learn more, let’s have a conversation.

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