Exploring Varieties of Cyberattacks and Prevention Strategies

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Cyberattacks can take many forms. They can be as simple as a hacker extorting money from victims or as complex as a state-sponsored attack on foreign soil.

Generally, attacks are aimed at stealing data or disrupting operations. Attacks include man-in-the-middle attacks, phishing, ransomware, XSS, SQL injection, and more.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

For cybersecurity professionals around the world, man-in-the-middle attacks pose a particular threat. These cyberattacks allow attackers to access confidential information or credentials by intercepting communications between two parties, and they can also be used as an entry point into a corporate network. MITM attacks must be avoided, as they can cause severe damage and data loss.

An attacker who intercepts communication between a client and a server or between a user and a secure messaging service can modify the data, listen in on conversations, and even impersonate one of the participants to obtain sensitive information. This type of attack is also known as a MitM (mitm, or man-in-the-middle) cyberattack, and it can occur over many types of networks, including HTTPS connections to websites, other SSL/TLS connections, and Wi-Fi network connections.

Attackers can access private communications channels by hacking into an unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspot, stealing credentials through malware, or exploiting vulnerabilities in software-as-a-service applications like messaging or file storage systems. By intercepting and manipulating the content of these conversations, hackers can steal customer or financial information and intellectual property. This can devastate businesses, especially if the compromised data is sensitive. Additionally, they can use this information to launch denial-of-service attacks or extort money.

Viruses

There are varieties of cyberattacks. They can involve theft, extortion, or disruption. However, the most damaging attacks involve malware that exposes sensitive data or hijacks control of your systems and devices.

Malware, or malicious software, enables hackers to steal personal information like logins, passwords, and credit card numbers. It can also encrypt your data and request money before allowing you to view them again. This type of attack is known as ransomware.

Other forms of malware include worms that replicate themselves by modifying other computer programs and Trojan horses that hide behind innocent-looking programs to take over your device and steal personal information. Another form of cyber attack is SQL injection, which involves inserting predefined SQL commands into a database entry field (like a login or password box) to read and modify database data.

Hackers can use this stolen information for impersonation, identity theft, or to purchase illegal products and services. They can also sabotage your business by shutting down websites and preventing you from doing work online.

Ransomware

Ransomware encrypts data and applications, preventing access until a ransom payment is made. It can infect computers, printers, tablets, smartphones, wearables, point-of-sale terminals, and other endpoints. Thousands of variants exist, exploiting system, network, and software vulnerabilities. Attackers can use various social engineering tactics to spread the attacks, including malspam, spam, spear phishing, and more.

Threat actors often target organizations with sensitive information worth extorting, such as schools, shipping agencies, and medical trials. Organizations unwilling to pay the demanded sum may have their data leaked onto the dark web or destroyed. Ransomware can also be used as an entry point for other malware, such as information-stealing Trojans and more targeted malware attacks that appeared in 2018.

Prevention strategies include continuous data backups. A successful cyberattack can be prevented by implementing a layered security model, which includes network, edge, endpoint, and application controls powered by actionable threat intelligence. In addition, training employees on how to spot suspicious emails is essential. For example, if an employee sees their files have unusual file extensions or icons, it is likely a sign of a ransomware attack. Please read about how one company’s backed-up data enabled them to avoid paying the ransom and restore their data without interruption.

Denial-of-Service Attacks

A cyberattack that renders a device, network, or system inaccessible to legitimate users can be highly disruptive and costly. In the most common attack method, a threat actor floods the focused-on device or service with pointless requests, overwhelming and blocking access to the system. These attacks, known as DoS or DDoS, can be conducted for various reasons. Criminally motivated attacks may target a company to steal data, cause financial damage, or inflict reputational harm. Personal attacks are often motivated by disgruntled current or former employees seeking retribution or access to company systems. Sociopolitical attacks are typically a form of hacktivism or activism seeking to bring attention to a particular cause.

DDoS attacks are a variant of DoS that leverages networks of infected devices – PCs, smartphones, or Internet of Things (IoT) devices – to target and block traffic to and from a server or network. The attacker uses these machines, called bots, to simultaneously bombard their targets with unwanted traffic worldwide. These attacks can be volumetric, saturating the target’s connection bandwidth capacity with packets, or protocol-based, attacking how the targeted device or system communicates. Regardless of the technique, these attacks are difficult to stop and can last from hours to months.