Cyber Attacks Types: A Closer Look at Common Threats

What Is a Cyber Attack?

cyber attack is any type of offensive action that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, or personal computer devices, using various methods to steal, alter or destroy data, or information systems.

A cyber-attack is a deliberate attempt to exploit vulnerable systems, devices or networks to manipulate, steal or gain unauthorized access. Cyber-attack is one of the worst problems of the 21st century, especially for IT personnel. The motivates behind cyber-attacks varies but the top reasons that stand out are for financial gain and information.

What Are the Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks?

While the types of cyber-attacks continue to grow, we will be going through the different types of cyber-attacks you need to look out for.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack

A MitM attack occurs when a hacker introduces himself/herself between the communications of a client and a server.  These cyber attackers are going to observe or manipulate your traffic. Attackers carry out these types of cyber-attacks in different ways. Session hijacking, IP spoofing, and Replay are some of the common types of MITM attacks.

Encryption and digital certificates provide an effective safeguard against MitM attacks, also carrying out a latency test to detect the possible attack. This can be done by checking for inconsistencies in response times.

Phishing attack

A phishing attack is a practice of sending emails that appear to be from legitimate sources to gain personal information or influence users to do something. This type of attack combines social engineering and technical tactics. It could involve an attachment to an email that loads malware onto your computer. It could also be luring the individual into clicking on a malicious link that takes you to an illegal website. Here are some common types of phishing attacks:

Spear-phishing is a type of phishing attack that is customized or directed to a particular individual.

Whaling is a type of phishing attack that targets wealthy individuals.

Vishing is also known as voice phishing. Involves making phone calls or leaving voice messages to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive information.

The solution to these types of cyber-attacks is caution and critical thinking. While this is true, avoid opening email or clicking links from unknown sources.

Drive-by- Download attack

It is one of the common types of attacks that cyber-attackers use to spread malware. They target insecure websites. The attackers inject malicious scripts into the HTTP or PHP code of the websites. The script might install malware directly onto the computer of someone who visits the site, or it might re-direct the victim to a site controlled by the hackers. Drive-by download attacks can happen when visiting a website or viewing an email message or a pop-up window. Unlike many other types of cybersecurity attacks, a drive-by attack doesn’t rely on a user to do anything to actively enable the attack.

To protect yourself from drive-by download attacks, you need to keep your browsers and operating systems up to date and avoid websites that might contain malicious code.

Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

A DoS attack overwhelms a system’s resources so that it cannot respond to service requests. A DDoS attack, on the other hand, is also an attack on the system’s resources, but it is launched from a large number of other host machines that are infected by malicious software controlled by the attacker. This type of attack is effective since it is difficult to identify the source of the attack. Here are some common types of DDoS attacks:

TCP SYN Flood Attack the attacker repeatedly sends SYN requests to overload and saturate the resources of the target server, resulting in slow or no response.

Smurf Attack is a form of flood attack in which the hacker tries to overwhelm the victim’s server with Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets, making the target network inoperable.

Ping of Death Attack the attacker sends malicious pings containing data packets that are more than the maximum limit (65,536 bytes), causing the system to freeze or crash.

SQL injection attack

SQL (Structured Query Language) injection is a type of attack which is specific to websites that use dynamic SQL, although it can be targeted at any SQL database. SQL databases use SQL statements to query the data. If the database permissions have not been set properly, the attacker could gain unauthorized access to the database to execute queries that will create, read, modify or delete the data stored in the database. Sometimes perform execute administration operations on the database, such as shutdown, recover the content of a given file, or issue commands to the operating system.

Password attack

Passwords are the most commonly used methods of authentication. A password attack is a type of cyber-attack where an attacker tries to guess, or crack a user’s password. The password attack can take several forms which include but not limited to the Brute-Force attack, Dictionary attack, Rainbow Table attack, Credential Stuffing, Password Spraying, and the Keylogger attack. And at other times the cyber attacker might use social engineering techniques to obtain a user’s password.

To protect yourself from password attacks, you need to implement Two-factor authentication, also an account lockout policy that will lock the account after a few invalid password attempts.

Cross-site scripting (XSS) attack

Cross-site scripting attack is similar to SQL injection attacks, although instead of extracting data from a database, they are used to infect other users who visit the site.  The cyber-attacker targets a vulnerable website, one lacking encryption, then injects malicious codes into the target’s system or browser. When a user visits this page, the code will execute and either infect their system or browser, causing unwanted behavior or be used to steal cookies or extract the user’s credentials.

Zero-Day attack

A zero-day attack is an attack that exploits a software application or operating system security weakness that the vendor or developer may be unaware of. The software developer must rush to resolve the weakness as soon as it is discovered to limit the threat to software users. The solution is called a software patch. Once a patch is written and used, the exploit is no longer called a zero-day exploit.

Malware attack

A malware attack is a common cyberattack where malicious software executes unauthorized actions on the victim’s system. The malicious software installs itself on a target system, causing unusual behavior. This ranges from denying access to programs, deleting files, stealing information, and spreading itself to other systems. The three most common types of a malware attack are:

Trojan horse is a program that appears to be one thing but in reality, is a delivery mechanism for malware. It relies on the user to download it and run it on the system.

Worm this program is designed to propagate itself into other systems sometimes without any interaction on the part of the user.

A Virus is a self-propagating malware that infects other programs or files of a target.

To protect yourself from password attacks, Use a good antivirus and antimalware software, avoid opening emails from unknown sources, avoid clicking on malicious pop-ups, and Keep your firewall up-to-date.

These types of cyber-attacks continue to grow in complexity, understanding them is the best way to mitigate, defend your networks and systems.

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