The Worst of the Worst: 3 Common Types of Cyber Attacks
Cyber Attack: A cyber or internet based criminal stealing your private information
On the World Wide Web, the potential to fall victim of a cyber attack exists at every turn. Of these likely threats, what differentiates one from another? Here are some of the most common types of cyber attacks and how you can recognize one from another.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prohibits users from accessing either the system and/or personal files. In order to regain access, users are coerced into making a ransom payment. The first ransomware developed in 1980s; to regain access, users needed to send payment via snail mail. The malware has since evolved to keep up with the times, as authors now demand that payment be sent either via cryptocurrency and/or credit card.
Some common tactics used to spread ransomware involve malicious spam, otherwise known as malspam. You can identify a malspam message by an unsolicited email with foreign attachments used to entice the reader. These attachments could include PDFs, Word Documents, or malicious websites. Through social engineering, hackers are able to trick potential victims into a ransomware attack vis-a-vis clicking on attachments, links, and etcetera. For example, some cyber criminals will disguise themselves as a powerful entity, such as the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI), in order to trick individuals into paying a large sum of money towards regaining file access.
Denial of services (DoS) cyber attacks flood a website with frivolous traffic in order to slow a website’s speed. The ultimate goal of these attacks are to take a website completely offline, and should be taken very seriously in their potential to threaten your business’s bottom line. By discouraging visitors, potential consumers will likely become frustrated, leave the website, and could even give competitors an upper-hand in acquiring new business. Making matters worse, these attacks are simple to execute and comparatively inexpensive. They are consequently one of the most common among cyber criminals. In fact, the average organization understandably faces approximately eight DoS attacks per day.
Businesses can detect a DoS attack by monitoring their website’s speed. Customers expect a website to load in 3 seconds or less, but any deviation of the norm should be noted and reported internally. While most servers completely crash during a DoS attack, error messages may also point to danger as well. Those looking to improve their DoS detection should explore the “Netstat” command, an evaluation tool found on any Windows or Linux operating system. The command yields detailed information about how your computer communicates with other computers or network devices. Such information is incredibly useful in identifying and troubleshooting any and all networking issues, especially when explored by well-skilled IT professionals.
Due to its inconspicuous nature, a man-in-the-middle attack is especially dangerous. Hackers are able to insert themselves into a two-party transaction and steal sensitive data from each party involved. There are specific circumstances that must be in order for a man-in-the-middle attack to thrive – acknowledging how these attacks are successful can become a preventative measure in and of itself. When a network is insecure, i.e. on a public Wi-Fi, attackers are seamlessly able to enter a two-party transaction. Hackers are also able to conduct Man-in-the-Middle attack if they were previously successful during a malware attack. If these hackers breached a device by using malware, the same hacker can install software that enables them to process any and all of the victim’s information.
Of course, businesses can effectively mitigate the opportunity of a successful Man-in-the-middle attack by making sure each and every one of their networks are secured. Such practices should be clearly communicated both inside and outside office premises – for example, if a company has a remote work policy for their employees, leadership must convey the necessity of conducting business on a secure, private network. By preventing malware, businesses can also prevent Man-in-the-middle attacks. Several external IT providers offer anti-malware software, however, such security can be compounded by keeping all operating systems up-to-date and free from unused software and applications.
Staying Ahead on Cyber Security
Several types of cyber attacks exist – while each have devastation in common, each type is unique. Understanding just how commonplace ransomware, DoS, and Man-in-the-Middle attacks thrive is a necessary part of any cyber security strategy. In sum, businesses should support continued education and learning about the different types of cyber attack threats that exist for the purpose of exploring all possible security alternatives.