What is Cyber Attacks

What is Cyber Attacks

In 2020, cyberattacks were rated as the fifth highest-rated attacks on the internet. In the past decade, the threat of cyberattacks has become a common occurrence in both the public and private sectors. This trend is all set to grow in the coming decade as the attacks on IoT machines are only expected to double in numbers by 2025. On the other hand, the detection rate is as low as 0.05, and we are only talking about the United States. These numbers warn us of one thing, and that is nothing, and no one is safe on the internet.

But what is a cyber attack, and what are its different types? How can we keep ourselves safe from it? Well, all these questions will be answered in this article in the sections given below. All you have to do is read them with a focused mind, and you will have a much better understanding of cyber-attacks once you are finished reading this article.

Definition of Cyber Attack

Let’s start with the basics: a cyber attack is a way for an individual to try to gain access to a computer without the user’s authorization. The intent of this unauthorized access is to cause damage, disrupt the control system of the computer, or alter, delete, block, and steal the data from the system.

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One thing you need to keep in mind is that a cyber attack can be launched from any part of the world. It is not restricted to the geolocation of the attacker. There are multiple strategies that can be used to hack a system while sitting on the other side of the globe and orchestrate the most significant attack in the history of the internet. In recent years we have seen such types of massive attacks. One of the common forms of cyberattacks in 2021 is the SolarWinds Sunburst attack.

The SolarWinds Sunburst attack is the most sophisticated cyber-attack of all time, and it is a multi-vector attack that has the clear characteristics of bringing a cyber pandemic to the world. This attack targeted US government officials along with many multi-billion dollar private sector organizations. The attackers were able to insert a backdoor into the SolarWinds software patch, and over 18,000 companies and government offices downloaded the new patch into their systems. What seemed like a regular update from the software they had been using was actually a Trojan horse.

This is one of the clear examples of how disastrous a cyber attack works and how it leads to the compromise of data and spying on government organizations in order to access the data.

Different Types of Cyber Attacks

Let’s move to the next part and discuss the different types of cyber-attacks which are causing havoc on the internet right now.

1. Malware

Malware is a type of software that is designed to hamper the security of a system. It includes viruses, ransomware, and worms. Malware does the penetration of the network by taking advantage of the vulnerability. It happens when a user clicks on a dangerous link or an email attachment, which leads to the installation of the affected software on their system. Once the malware is installed, it can do the following damage:

  • It can block specific files from access, resulting in a ransomware situation where the hacker will ask the user to pay a specific amount to retrieve the files.
  • Also, malware can install a number of viruses and additional harmful software, which can further make the working of the system impossible.
  • The malware can obtain the information that is being transmitted securely over the internet or via a hard drive.
  • It makes the system inoperable and disrupts the workings of some significant components.

2. Phishing

Phishing is quite a popular cyber-attack which still continues to be quite a concern for cyber security. Now, attackers are using the highest evasion techniques in order to trespass through the different security solutions at a much greater frequency. In addition to this, hackers are now using sextortion scams and business email compromises to get payment from the user whose system is compromised. In April of 2020, a sextortion campaign from hackers who were pretending to be from the CIA warned the victims who were suspected of distributing and storing child pornography. They demanded users send them $10,000 in Bitcoin, or else their information would be handed over to local police for further investigation.

These types of phishing scams have encoded emails. The images used in the emails have an embedded message inside. In addition to this, hackers also put in a complex underlying code that mixed up the text letters into the entities present in the HTML character.

3. Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MITM)

This type of attack, in general, takes place when a perpetrator positions himself in between the conversation of a user and the application. The attacker could impersonate a third party that is required to be present, or he could eavesdrop depending on the type of attack he is using. The main goal of this type of cyber attack is to steal the information from the user and take advantage of it by performing unethical tasks.

The information retrieved from the compromised system can be used for identity theft, unapproved transfer of funds, and changing of passwords. On the other hand, it can also be used to gain a foothold inside a perimeter that is secured for the work of a particular group of employees.

A MITM is like an office employee opening up your bank statement, writing down the account details, and then telling you the same information. There are multiple ways of performing the MITM, and it can be done by HTTPS spoofing, SSL Beast, SSL hijacking, and many more.

4. Denial Of Service (DOS)

The DOS attack is one that has been around since the start of the internet. With this attack, a hacker can make the server deny the requests that it should have been accepting. Thus, the websites present on the server stop working and load the required data. The main reason attackers use this cyber attack is to shut down the machine or the network entirely. The DoS attacks flood the target with traffic, which leads to a crash. This results in depriving real users of the service for which the attacked system was intended in the first place.

The most common victims of this type of attack are the web servers that contain high-profile organizations like banks, commerce, or media companies. DoS does not cause any theft of data from the user’s system, but still costs the victim a great deal of time and money. The cost of getting back on track from this attack is relatively high, and if you are a server farm, then rebuilding the trust of your client is another big mountain that you have to climb.

5. SQL Injection

SQL is the database that stores all the information which the website or an application has. SQL injection is a common cyber-attack that is used to make unauthorised changes in the data or copy the content of the database such as passwords, user IDs for identity theft. The impact of SQL injection is far-reaching in businesses that largely depend on the data processors. The cost of the attack depends on the personal data which has been compromised and how much it was worth in the first place.

In order to make this attack possible, there are two ways to make it happen, the first being inferential, which is also known as the blind method. In this case, the attacker sends data payloads to the server and sees how the server responds to learn about the type of structure the server is using. Here the data is being transferred from the website’s database to the hacker. As a result, it is not possible for the attacker to see the information for the attack in-band.

The second method is the out-of-band attack, but these attacks can only be possible if certain features of the database server are in use by a web application. In this, the attacker can’t use the same channel to gather the information which he used to attack the server.

6. Zero-Day Exploit

A zero-day attack is one that doesn’t give developers time to fix it. In this case, the vendor of the software is not aware of the faults that are present in the newly launched software, and thus, the hackers are able to take advantage of the vulnerability. This can lead to the users’ being victimized, and their data could be stolen from the backdoor created by the hacker. On the other hand, it is hard to find the security vulnerability as it takes a lot of time, and a new patch might end up coming 2 to 3 weeks after the software was affected. The attackers can target any software. In the past, it was Microsoft’s Windows 10 update that was quite infamous for its leaking of users’ data.

7. DNS Tunneling

This form of attack can only take place when a system is connected to the external network. The DNS tunnelling requires the attacker to have access to the internal DNS server along with network access. In addition to this, the hacker also needs to have control over the domain and the server so he can perform the authoritative tasks on the server so the tunnelling can proceed further from the server-side and the payloads dropped by the hacker can be executed.

Cybercriminals know that DNS is a trusted protocol, and not many organisations in the world actually check the DNS traffic for malicious content. These attackers can inject malware into the server or steal information via DNS queries by using DNS tunneling.

How to keep yourself Protected from Cyber Attacks?

In order to stay somewhat safe on the internet, you need to follow these tips and keep yourself vigilant all the time. Because getting hacked on the internet is pretty easy, and even teenagers are doing it for fun these days.

1. Check Your System

One of the first things that you need to know is whether your system has already been involved in a data breach. There are multiple portals available on the internet that tell you if your system has been compromised previously or not. If it has already been attacked before, make sure you change the passwords of all your emails and another important user IDs. Aside from that, you can use two-step verification. As a result, if someone tries to log in using your ID and password, you will be sent a one-time password (OTP) on your registered mobile phone. This will keep your emails secure from getting hacked.

2. Find Out The Strength Of Your Password

Go to this website, howsecureismypassword.net, to find out if your password has enough strength to keep you protected from common attacks. Also, when you are choosing a password, make sure it is long and hard to guess. It needs to have a unique character and numbers in it. You can continue by creating a sentence that way, and it becomes hard to crack and easy for you to remember.

3. Keep The Software Up to date

This is quite important for the operating systems and internet security programs. Attackers are always trying to exploit and find flaws in this software to gain access to the sensitive data present in the system. In order to patch these exploits, one has to keep on updating to the latest patch provided by the developers of the software to keep their system safe.

4. Strengthen Your Home Network

Create a virtual private network, which allows your home network to encrypt all traffic leaving your network. Even if hackers are able to trespass on your network security, they still won’t be able to read the information available in communication because data is encrypted.

5. Know All The Latest Threats

It is excellent practice to keep yourself educated about the latest threats that are being spread on the internet. Even if you are an individual, you still need to be aware of the dangers of the malicious content that is being transferred to hamper the security of the system.

6. Take Precautions to Stay Protected from Identity Theft

As we said earlier, identity theft will be the biggest concern among internet users in 2021 and in the coming years. With this method, an attacker can take out all the necessary information without you having the slightest notion of your data being compromised. So keep a close eye on your employees and use tools like VPN and antivirus to alert you to suspicious files that you are about to download.

7. Think before you click

Before you click on the special deal that is only for you or clicks on the download button, make sure you double-check that all the information is correct and it’s not a phishing attempt. You can install an antivirus on your system, and it will tell you if the website is risk-free or not. If not, then it’s better to look for the same content somewhere else and not risk your system’s security.

There are tonnes of web pages that look pretty legitimate, but the bad actors are designed to look like real things and to make you reveal the password or enter the card details. Thus, it is best to always double-check and refresh when you are making the payment so that any extra pop-up will go away.

8. Take a Backup

If there are some files that are quintessential for your work, then it is best to take their backups on an external hard drive or on a USB. That way, if you are attacked by ransomware, you can reboot the whole system and then get those files from your backup and don’t have to pay anything to the hackers.

9. Delete Sensitive Information When Work is Done

This is something that everyone needs to do, but only a few people keep this in mind. When you are done with the purchase, you need to get your credit card details out from the system. Sure, it will take you some time to re-enter it, but it is much safer than compromising it with a hacker.

10. Control Access to your Systems

It might come as a surprise to you, but you need to keep your systems safe from physical attacks as well. Ensure that your network is not accessible to someone outside of your authorized circle. Hackers can inject malware into your network using a single USB, so it is essential for you to control access to your computers. Also, it is advisable to keep a record of the logins on each system. That way, if malware is detected, you can find out who initiated the process in the first place.

Wrapping Up

Indeed, it is hard, if not nearly impossible, to keep yourself 100% safe on the internet. As you are reading this article, hackers are trying to get through the security of some of the biggest IT companies in the world, and few of their attempts will be successful, even though companies have their strongholds. Keep these tips in mind and stay vigilant. That’s all you can do to keep yourself safe on the internet because cyberattacks are only growing in numbers, and there is no stopping them all at once.


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