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12 Common Types of Attacks in Cyber Security

According to Check Point Research, there was an all-time high in weekly cyber-attacks in the fourth quarter of 2021, with over 900 attacks per organisation. In addition, IT Governance reported 34.9 million data hacked in June 2022 alone.    

Nowadays, cybercriminals are not amateurs or script kiddies but state-sponsored attackers and professional crooks aiming to steal information. While disruption and vandalism remain common, espionage has surpassed hacktivism as the second most important driving motivation behind cyber-attacks after financial gain. Whatever the reason, many security teams are having difficulty keeping their IT systems safe.  

Cybercrime is based on the effective exploitation of vulnerabilities, and security teams are constantly at a disadvantage because they have to defend all possible entry points. Still, an attacker only needs to locate and exploit one weakness or vulnerability. As a result of this disparity, even huge organisations need help to prevent fraudsters from monetising access to their networks.   

A common misperception is that only large firms are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. However, there has been a major increase in the targeting of small and medium-sized firms. This is because smaller firms tend to deploy less advanced cybersecurity measures. As a result, as many as 50% of all cyber-attacks target small enterprises, with an average cost of £ 200,000, enough to drive small businesses out of business.  

To defend your organisation against cyber-attacks, you need to equip yourself with an enterprise-grade security system and an understanding of the many types of cyber-attacks that businesses face today. By understanding what you're up against, you can successfully prevent cyber-attacks and reduce your company's risk.  

Table of Contents

1) What is Cyber-attack?

2) 12 Common Types of Attacks in Cyber Security

   a) Malware 

   b) Phishing 

   c) Cross-site Scripting 

   d) SQL Injection 

   e) Man-in-the-Middle 

   f) DNS Spoofing 

   g) Whale-phishing attack 

   h) Trojan Horses 

   i) Business Email Compromise 

   j) Drive-by Attacks 

   k) Birthday Attack 

   l) Session Hijacking 

3) Conclusion 

Learn the fundamentals of Cybersecurity Operation Training. Sign up for our CCNA Cybersecurity Operation Training course now! 

What is Cyber-attack? 

What is Cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack is an attempt by cybercriminals, hackers, or other digital adversaries to gain access to a computer network or system, generally with the intent of modifying, stealing, destroying, or revealing information.  

Cyber-attacks can target a broad spectrum of victims, from individual users to businesses and governments. When attacking businesses or other organisations, the hacker's purpose is generally to get access to sensitive and important company resources such as intellectual property (IP), customer data, or payment details. 

12 Common Types of Attacks in Cyber Security  

When attempting to hack into a network, a hacker never tries reinventing the wheel. Instead, attackers employ tried-and-tested approaches that they know are highly effective. Here is the list of different types of attacks in cyber security. 

1) Malware 

Malware is "malicious software" meant to disrupt or steal data from a computer, network, or server. Hackers trick you into installing malware on your systems. Once installed, a malicious script runs in the background, bypassing your protection, and giving hackers access to your sensitive data and the ability to take control. Malware is one of the most popular types of cyber-attacks, and there are other variables to be aware of: 

a) Ransomware 

Ransomware is malware that encrypts files on a victim's computer. Once the malware has encrypted the data, the hacker will demand a ransom (typically in cryptos) in exchange for the decryption key. If the victim denies paying the ransom, the criminal destroys the decryption key, making data recovery (typically) impossible. However, many people who comply with the stipulations never get the promised key. In addition, during the infection process, ransomware malware frequently corrupts data beyond repair, which means the key you receive from the hacker is useless.   

Ransomware is a threat to both individual users and companies. More tecy-savy criminals create malicious software that attacks several computers or targets a central server essential to corporate operations. 

b) Spyware 

Spyware is an attack that monitors the victim's internet activity, tracks login passwords, and spies on sensitive data – all without the user's knowledge or consent. For example, cybercriminals use spyware to collect credit card numbers, banking information, and passwords, which are then given back to the attacker. Google Play customers in South and Southeast Asia have been recent victims, although government agencies in numerous nations also utilise malware. Pegasus malware has been used to surveil activists, legislators, diplomats, bloggers, research laboratories, and allies.   

c) Trojan 

A Trojan horse is software downloaded and installed on a computer that looks safe but is malicious. This virus is usually concealed in an innocent-looking email attachment or free download. When the user clicks on the email or instals the free software, the hidden virus is downloaded to the user's computer. Once inside, the malicious code does whatever task the attacker programmed. Often, this is done to launch an immediate attack, but it can also be done to create a backdoor for the hacker to utilise in future episodes. 

d) Rootkit 

A rootkit is a set of software tools used to open a backdoor on a victim's system, allowing the attacker to instal more malware, such as ransomware and keyloggers, or to acquire control over and remote access to other network devices. In addition, rootkits frequently deactivate security software to evade detection. Once the rootkit has gained control of a machine, it can send spam emails, join a botnet, or collect and send sensitive data back to the attacker.

2) Phishing 

A phishing attack is a type of attack where an attacker impersonates a reputable entity, such as a bank, tax department, or person, via email or other forms of communication to distribute malicious links to trick a victim into handing over valuable information, such as passwords, credit card details, intellectual property (IP), etc. Phishing campaigns are simple to set up and surprisingly successful. Phishing assaults can also be carried out over the phone (voice phishing) and via text messaging (SMS phishing).  

3) Cross-Site Scripting  

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a code injection attack in which a malicious code is inserted into a legitimate website. The code then runs in the user's web browser as an infected script, allowing the attacker to steal sensitive data or impersonate the user. The most vulnerable to XSS attacks include web forums, blogs, message boards, and other websites that allow users to upload their data.    

XSS attacks target individual web application visitors, although the vulnerabilities are in the programme or website. As a result, firms that wanted to deploy a remote workforce may have unintentionally exposed themselves to this assault by making internal programmes web-accessible or adopting cloud-based services. This enhanced the attack surface at a time when businesses, particularly IT teams, are under enormous strain.

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4) SQL Injection 

SQL Injection attacks are similar to XSS attacks in that attackers use system weaknesses to insert malicious SQL statements into a data-driven application, allowing the hacker to steal information from a database. In addition, hackers use SQL Injection methods to alter, steal, or remove data.  

The primary distinction between XSS and SQL Injection is who is targeted. SQL injection is a server-side vulnerability that targets the program's database, whereas XSS is a client-side vulnerability that targets other application users. 

5) Man-in-the-Middle Attack

A Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack occurs when attackers discreetly intercept and transmit communications between two parties who believe they are communicating directly with one other. Still, the attackers have infiltrated online communication. In real time, the attackers can read, copy, or edit communications before passing them to the unwitting receiver. A successful MiTM attack can enable hackers to steal or alter sensitive personal information, including login credentials, transaction data, and credit card numbers. 

6) DNS Spoofing 

A hacker uses Domain Name System (DNS) spoofing to divert traffic to a bogus or "spoofed" website. Once on the fake site, the victim may submit important information that the hacker can use or sell. The hacker may also create a low-quality website with disparaging or provocative information to make a competitor company look bad.  

In a DNS spoofing attack, the attacker takes advantage of the fact that the victim believes the site they are viewing is accurate. This allows the attacker to commit crimes in the name of a legitimate firm, at least in the eyes of the visitor.

7) Whale-phishing Attack 

A whale-phishing assault is so named because it targets an organisation's "big fish," or whales, which often include executives in the C-suite or those in positions of authority. These persons are likely to have useful information for attackers, such as proprietary knowledge about the firm or its operations. 

If a targeted "whale" downloads ransomware, they are more likely to pay the ransom to prevent news of the successful attack from spreading and harming their organisation's image. Whale-phishing attacks can be avoided by adopting the same measures as phishing attacks, such as carefully reviewing emails and their attachments and URLs and keeping a watch out for unusual destinations or parameters.

8) Trojan Horses 

A Trojan horse attack employs a malicious application concealed within a normal one. When the user runs seemingly innocent software, the virus inside the Trojan can be used to open a backdoor into the system, allowing hackers to infiltrate the computer or network. This threat gets its name from the narrative of Greek warriors who hide inside a horse to invade the city of Troy and win the battle. When the "gift" was accepted and taken within the gates of Troy, the Greek warriors jumped out and attacked. Similarly, an unknowing user may accept an innocent-looking programme into their system only to introduce a concealed threat. 

9) Business Email Compromise (BEC) 

A BEC attack occurs when an attacker targets specific persons, typically an employee with the ability to authorise financial transactions, to dupe them into transferring funds into an account controlled by the attacker. In order to be effective, BEC attacks generally need strategy and research. For example, any information on the target organisation's executives, workers, customers, business partners, and future business partners would aid the attacker in convincing the employee to hand up the funds. BEC assaults are among the most expensive types of cyber-attacks.

10) Drive-by Attacks 

A Drive-by attack involves a hacker inserting malicious code into an unsecured website. When a user visits the site, the script is automatically executed, infecting their system. The term "drive-by" refers to the notion that the victim merely needs to "drive-by" the site to become infected. There is no need to click on anything or submit any information on the site. 

To avoid drive-by attacks, users should ensure that all of their computers are running the most recent software, including apps such as Adobe Acrobat and Flash, which may be utilised while browsing the internet. You can also employ web-filtering software to determine whether a site is risky before user access it.

11) Birthday Attack 

In a birthday attack, an attacker takes advantage of a security feature: hash algorithms, which are intended to authenticate the authenticity of communications. The hash algorithm is a digital signature, and the recipient verifies it before accepting the message as legitimate. If a hacker can construct a hash that is equal to what the sender has added to their message, the hacker can simply replace the sender's message with their own. Because it has the correct hash, the receiving device will accept it. 

The term "birthday attack" refers to the birthday paradox, which states that there is a greater than 50% probability that two persons in a room of 23 shares the same birthdate. As a result, while individuals believe their birthdays, like hashes, are unique, they are not.

12) Session Hijacking 

Session hijacking is a kind of man-in-the-middle attack in which the attacker "takes over" a client-server session. The attacker's system switches its IP address for the client's address and continues to connect to the server without requiring authentication. 

Hackers can do everything the client's account can do once they've hijacked a session. For example, assume you're on a business trip and need to access your company's internal database. If a hacker takes over your session, they will have access to all of your company's files.

Learn the fundamentals of Cyber Security Awareness. Sign up for our Cyber Security Awareness course now! 

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In this article, you have learned everything you need to know about cyber-attacks. You learned what a cyber-attack is, the top 12 Common Types of Cyber Security Attacks, and how to prevent a cyber-attack. With the rising number of cybercrimes nowadays, it is important to be aware of cyber threats and how to defend one's network.

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