Exploring the Most Prevalent Forms of Cyber Attacks: An Overview
Cybersecurity is a major issue in the digital age, and cyber attacks have become an increasingly common threat to individuals, businesses, and organisations. With technology advancing rapidly, cybercriminals are continually developing new and sophisticated methods of attack. This is why it’s crucial that everyone is aware of the most common types of cyber attacks. In this article, we will delve into the most common types of cyber attacks and how they are specific to different industries, institutions, and networks.
The term “phishing” refers to the process of tricking someone into divulging personal or confidential information. Phishing attacks can manifest in various forms like emails, messages, or social media platforms. The attacker often impersonates a trustworthy organisation or individual in the message, which leads the victim to click on links or download attachments. Once the victim falls into the trap, the attacker gains access to the victim’s sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card details, and bank information.
Phishing attacks are specific to the e-commerce and financial industry. If a victim falls into the trap of phishing, it becomes very easy to gain access to their financial information, which can lead to financial losses. The financial industry needs to be extra cautious because cyber attackers often operate under the guise of legitimate financial institutions. As an industry, they should educate their employees on how to identify and avoid phishing attacks. They should install antivirus software that can detect phishing attacks and prevent them from accessing the system, especially when it’s an e-commerce platform.
Institutions that regularly collect personal information from their customers are also at risk of phishing attacks. The healthcare industry, for example, requires a patient’s personal information to provide their services effectively. Cybercriminals sometimes pose as legitimate medical institutions and target patients to gain access to their personal medical information. To prevent this, healthcare institutions should implement security measures as per the guidelines laid down by regulatory bodies. A security policy should be in place to restrict access to sensitive information, and employees should be trained to identify and avoid phishing scams.
Malware refers to any software program designed to damage, disrupt, or disable computer systems. Malware attacks are specific to businesses and organisations that use computers and technology for their day-to-day operations. Malware is often developed to steal confidential data, and it can take various forms, such as viruses, worms, and spyware.
Businesses, especially those that keep digital records of their customers, are at risk of malware attacks. The retail industry, for example, collects customer data for online sales purposes; if the retailer becomes a victim of malware, the attacker can gain access to customer critical data and commit fraudulent activities. To prevent malware attacks, organisations need to have good cybersecurity measures in place, like anti-virus software installed on their network systems.
Non-profit organisations that have limited funding can also become a target for malware attacks. Malware attacks can lead to significant data losses and business disruption, which can be detrimental to non-profits. These sectors should ensure they have backup plans, such as cloud-based backups to store their critical data in case of an attack.
Dos (Denial Of Service) Attacks
Denial-of-service (dos) attacks are intended to make a machine or network resource unavailable. In a dos attack, attackers generate a tremendous amount of traffic from a single internet or corporate network connection which overloads the target’s network resulting in a crash. These attacks can be launched across social media channels, email, or network software.
Dos attacks are specific to any business that operates on a digital platform. In ecommerce, when a website is being used for marketing or sales, a website crash during peak hours can lead to significant losses. If an attacker can flood the website with traffic, it can cause the website to become unresponsive, leading to customer dissatisfaction.
Similarly, the travel and tourism industry is also at risk of dos attacks because websites like airlines and hotels get the majority of their business online and is prone to attacks. A disrupted network system can lead to errors in airline ticketing, which will cause confusion and make customers apprehensive.
Man-In-The-Middle (Mitm) Attacks
In this type of cyber attack, the attacker intercepts communication between two parties and eavesdrops on the information exchanged between them. This can include usernames, passwords, and confidential data. Cybercriminals execute this attack through software that they install on the victims’ device or leverage compromised systems to get access to device information.
Mitm attacks are specific to organisations like banks, where most transactions take place online. Cybercriminals try to intercept bank transactions by getting access to the personally identifiable information (pii) of the account holder. Institutions should have multi-level authentication and encryption mechanisms in place to prevent mitm attacks.
This type of cyber attack involves an attacker using someone else’s computer to mine cryptocurrency without the owner’s consent. The attacker gains access to someone’s hardware via software, web browser, or extension that the owners install on their device.
Cryptojacking attacks are specific to organisations and individuals who use cryptocurrencies or have them on their device. This type of attack can lead to significant costs, like the consumption of device processing power and electricity. To mitigate this, victims should install anti-malware software and extensions that can identify and block such bitcoins mining.
Ransomware attacks occur when the attackers encrypt the users’ data, making it inaccessible. The attacker then demands a ransom that the victim must pay to retrieve their data. The ransom is often demanded in cryptocurrencies.
Ransomware attacks are specific to the healthcare industry. Hospitals often store financial records, personal data, and other essential information that attackers can encrypt during a ransomware attack, compromising patients’ care and safety. To prevent ransomware attacks, hospitals should perform regular backups of their data and train employees to identify potential ransomware attacks.
Sql Injection Attacks
Sql (structured query language) injection attacks are a method of attack used to compromise the databases of, typically, websites. An attacker can exploit sql injection vulnerabilities by injecting malicious code into a web application or website that exploits any database vulnerabilities.
Sql injection attacks are specific to any organisation with an online web presence. This makes them vulnerable to cyberattacks that utilise sql injections. Website owners must patch any discovered sql injection vulnerabilities and optimize their security measures.
Password attacks are a cyber attack that relies on guessing or stealing login credentials to gain access to an account. The attacker can use various tactics like brute force, phishing, and malware to gain access to the victim’s credentials.
Password attacks are specific to any industry that utilises login credentials. This includes retail, hospitality, and banking industries. To prevent password attacks, it is important to enforce strong password policies as well as two-factor authentication processes.
Iot (internet of things) devices are devices that can connect to the internet, and therefore, it makes them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Iot devices can include anything from smart speakers to fridges, electric bulbs and your mobile devices.
Iot attacks can be specific to individuals and businesses. Cybercriminals can exploit the vulnerabilities of unsecured internet of things (iot) devices to access networks and steal information. There can be significant risks to data privacy which requires the use of secured third party networks.
Cyber attacks are a real threat, and it’s vital that everyone remains informed and aware of the risks they pose. The most common types of cyber attacks such as phishing, malware, dos, man-in-the-middle attack (mitm), cryptojacking, ransomware, sql injection attacks, password, and iot attacks have all been discussed in detail. It’s crucial to implement good security practices to protect against these attacks. Regular software and security updates, employee training, and maintaining strong passwords and two-factor authentication will all go a long way in reducing the potential impact of a cyber attack.