We live in a generation wherein organizations of almost all types ranging from government and military to medical institutions depend on computers and technology to accomplish their day-to-day activities. However, the technologies that specifically make use of the internet are under constant threat of malicious attacks known as cyber attacks. Majorly done for stealing or altering the computer network or the data, the intent of a cyber attack varies depending upon the attacker. Some cyber attacks are done for hampering the functioning of the whole computer system while others are meant for getting unauthorized access to a system or a network. Having said that, cyberattacks are majorly launched on businesses, but sometimes they are also targeted at ordinary users.
Keep in mind that these attacks can be performed by any malicious hackers, including criminals, who may have the main focus on getting money. A whole group can also be responsible for such attacks that can be terrorists trying to damage or alter the systems and the data that they contain. Typically, some of the mainstream attacks such as SQL injections and Phishing are performed through similar processes and tools that are easy to resolve nowadays. However, the best idea is to never let cyber attacks happen and prevent them before they can cause any kind of damage.
What Exactly is a Cyber Attack?
Cyber attacks are the attempts done by malicious individuals for getting unauthorized access to computer systems or networks majorly for causing damage or stealing the data. They are meant for disabling, disrupting, destroying, or controlling the computer systems or for altering, deleting, or manipulating the data stored on a device. Cyber attacks can be performed from anywhere on the globe by a single person or group of individuals who are referred to as cybercriminals.
Also known as threat actors or hackers, these individuals have extensive knowledge of computers and expert programming skills through which they plan and execute such attacks. They might’ve been syndicated with various other hackers as well that work together to find flaws and weaknesses in the systems, applications, software, and even websites.
There are some cyber-attacks that are sponsored directly by the government of any country. These attacks are referred to as nation-state attacks and are intended to break into the technology (IT) infrastructure of other countries.
What are the Targets of Cyber Attacks?
Every cyberattack targets resources that can be physical or logical. Hackers try to find the vulnerabilities through which they break through and control or destroy the whole system or data. After these attacks, some of the most crucial factors of any organization such as confidentiality, integrity, and reliability get questioned that eventually affect their customers. In some of the most extensive and harmful cyber attacks, users have lost access to some of the most crucial things such as social media platforms, OSes, credit/debit cards, or bank accounts.
These reasons collectively make cybersecurity and information security a crucial topic to learn. For businesses, it is crucial to set guidelines and policies for risk management and protecting financial and legal concerns.
How do Cyber Attacks Work?
Cybercriminals or hackers make the use of various techniques that vary on the basis of several factors such as the region in which the target is located, the security measures employed by the target, etc. Sometimes they also run untargeted attacks where instead of breaking into a specific system, they try to get into as many systems as possible. For this, attackers keep a track of vulnerabilities and faults in the system through which they can get into the system without being detected. One of the popular examples of untargeted attacks is phishing, in which hackers send malicious emails to a great number of people that get a user’s system tailored with malicious codes.
Another way for these attacks to work is known as “targeted attack” in which a specific organization gets attacked by using various old and new methods based on different objectives. Attackers might use the method of the spear-phishing campaign that involves the .creation of emails for specific individuals. These emails would be composed of malicious software that users may download and eventually give access to the crucial data to third parties.
Cyber attacks usually occur in certain stages and patterns. The first step is detecting the vulnerabilities or access points for breaking through the systems and creating a clear pathway for executing the full attack.
Common Types of Cyber Attacks
It is a term used for malicious software such as spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. Malware breaks into the network through vulnerabilities or when a user clicks on unauthorized or malicious links sent via email or placed on any suspicious website. It eventually installs the risky software within the system of the user. Following are some of the most common harms experienced by users on their device due to malware:
- Losing access to crucial network components and settings
- Enabling the pathway for the installation of other malicious software
- Making hard drive and clipboard data available to unauthorized users
- Interrupting the components or blocking the system completely
Phishing is the process of sending fraudulent attacks that may seem to come from reputed resources such as emails or websites. The main intent of these attacks is stealing user data, login credentials, credit card numbers, etc. from the computer systems or devices. This type of cyber attack is increasing rapidly day by day and now utilizes instant messages or text messages as a pathway.
Deploying two-factor authentication (2FA) is a typical and effective way of preventing phishing attacks. Along with this, companies can deploy robust password management policies such as changing the password frequently and using different passwords for various applications.
3. Man-in-the-middle attack
Often referred to as an eavesdropping attack, Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack occurs when an unauthorized user gets in between a two-party transaction. Right after interrupting, these hackers can steal the data or the crucial content that is being shared. It typically happens when communication is happening between a user and an application.
The main intent of MitM attacks is data breaching or stealing confidential information such as credentials, account details, and credit card numbers. Typical victims of these attacks are SaaS businesses, eCommerce stores, and online transactions where login credentials are required. Following are the two main entry points for these attacks:
- While using unsecured Wi-Fi, hackers get themselves involved between the network and the user’s device. This enables them to get a view of all the processed information without letting the victim know that their information is being exposed.
- If a device gets exposed to malware, the cybercriminal would be able to use it as a gateway for getting in between the processes and steal the victim’s confidential data.
4. Denial-of-service attack
A DoS or denial-of-service attack is done on servers or networks by sharply increasing the incoming traffic and eventually putting the servers and websites on a halt. The system won’t be able to intake genuine traffic and would lose a lot of potential clients or visitors.
The attackers make use of various devices with different IP addresses placed at different locations of the world. All these devices get managed from one centralized place and are intended to target eCommerce websites, banking servers, government websites, trading organizations, etc. However, these attacks don’t steal data or any other asset, but instead, they cut off the genuine audience and traffic of an online platform. The attacker will have the following advantages:
- Can deploy much larger traffic for making servers and websites overwhelmed
- Executes the attack from different locations to make the servers untraceable
- The attacker is kept anonymous and can’t be identified since they’ll be hidden behind thousands or millions of IP address
5. SQL injection
SQL or Structured Query Language injection is the process of incorporating malicious codes within the servers that utilize SQL. Doing this makes the system work differently as desired by the attacker and sometimes it exposes all the confidential data of the users.
In few cases, hackers can execute even more robust attacks by intensifying SQL injections majorly for making the servers and back-end infrastructure compromise and run out of service just like a denial-of-service attack. However, attackers use this method of cyber attack for deleting data, manipulating the content of the website, and data breaching.
- SQL injections are powerful enough to destroy the database of any organization.
- It is one of the most common techniques of cyber attack nowadays.
- It is done by placing codes within the SQL statements through webpage outputs.
6. Zero-day exploit
The Zero-day exploit method utilizes the security vulnerabilities for attacking the systems. This cyber-attack exploits the flaws in code before the developers get the chance to fix it. Its name is based on the fact that developers would just discover the flaw and vulnerabilities and they will have “zero-days” to fix the same.
Attackers keep an eye on flaws to occur and as soon as they find one, they break into the system. Therefore, the best way for preventing a Zero-day attack is to keep yourself updated with the system and vulnerabilities.
- This attack is counted among targeted attacks.
- To prevent such attacks, users should keep their security patches updated, and fix all the bugs and code errors before any third party notices the same.
- Developers need to configure all the security issues associated with OS, browsers, servers, and software.
- It is advisable to use security software for blocking all the suspects and detecting authorized access attempts.
7. DNS Tunneling
DNS tunneling is the method of utilizing DNS protocols for communicating non-DNS traffic on port 53. Companies use DNS tunneling for various obvious reasons, but there are also some malicious reasons associated with the same. They are used unethically by sending DNS requests that extract data and information from the organization’s infrastructure. A DNS tunneling attack is also utilized for controlling all the callbacks from the hacker’s infrastructure to the compromised system. Following are the three categories under DNS tunneling:
- Commonly Allowed DNS Tunnels: DNS tunnels that are used for production processes and legal processes come under DNS tunnels. They are generally tunneled from security services.
- Commonly Blocked DNS Tunnels: All the malicious tunnels and threats are counted under this category. They can potentially make real losses of data for organizations.
- Unknown DNS Tunnels: These are the tunnels that are not identified under any category. This type of tunneling is possible when the functionality of a particular tunnel is undefined.
Protecting Businesses From Cyber Attacks
Defending your business’s IT infrastructure or website from any sort of cyber threat is a collective process that involves various measures. You have to ensure certain dynamics such as making use of strong passwords and changing them from time to time, checking for system faults, taking care of network issues, using cybersecurity software, and so on. Following are some of the most common and effective ways for preventing cyber attacks:
1. Security practices
Following basic security practices would help you a lot in achieving a secured environment. As an administrator, you can make sure that every individual under the organization uses strong passwords and password managers for reducing the threats to a great extent and blocking all unauthorized access. Schedule proper sessions for making your employees aware of phishing scams and describing the detection of fraud and suspicious email attachments from unknown sources.
2. Back up all crucial information and data
Since there’s the risk of deletion of all the information associated with every cyberattack, it is important to have a backup of all the data. Therefore, keep an audit trail for all key business information saved at a sacred place that can’t be hampered by any sort of attack.
3. Encrypt all your data
Encryption is a very strong process of keeping the data secured from third parties. Individuals having the correct credentials will only be able to decrypt the information that will automatically save information from attackers. Therefore, ensure to encrypt customer’s information to reduce the chances for it to get exposed to the cybercriminals.
4. Use security software
For having end-to-end security, you can trust some of the most popular Antivirus and antimalware software available in the market. They will take care of several threats and issues, and will update and warn you in real-time along with running scans from time to time to detect malicious activities. However, relying on security software completely is not suggested and one should keep a check on vulnerabilities and faults happening in the infrastructure.
Malicious attacks done over the internet for stealing and manipulating the data or breaking into other’s systems or computer environment unethically is known as a cyber attack. Their main intent is to cause damage to the victim’s system or breach the data. They are performed by hackers that have strong computer and programming skills for executing such attacks.
These attacks typically follow certain patterns and begin by checking for vulnerabilities that work as the access points for attackers. The blog contains seven of the most typical cyber-attacks faced by businesses and normal users. These attacks can end up hampering the incoming traffic of a website and even cause damage to the whole IT infrastructure of a business. Thus, it’s essential to take appropriate measures to prevent such attacks.