Cyber attacks are getting more and more serious (and popular too), causing quite a damage to some businesses, countries, companies, and of course individuals. However, most of us don’t know much about cyber attacks, let alone how serious they can be. That being said, in this article, we want to talk about different types of cyber attacks so that you can give you a better idea of how they work and also what you could do to prevent some of them.
What does a “Cyberattack” mean anyway?
Before we move on to explaining the types of cyber attacks, we first want to tell you what this actually is. Cyber attacks refer to malicious operations on the Internet that are executed by hackers/criminal organizations that want to steal financial data, money, and intellectual property or just hinder the operations of businesses.
If you don’t think this is serious, then how about this? The global cost/damage of cyber-attacks in 2015 was estimated $500 billion. Now, that’s an enormous amount of money, no? This doesn’t end here; it is expected to grow to around 2 trillion dollars 2019, which makes things scarier.
Overview of Different Types of Cyber Attacks
There are several types of cyber attacks that turn deadly in different conditions. Below is the list of the various types of cyber attacks. We will further discuss each of the cyber attacks in detail, so to give you best definition for each.
- Phishing attacks
- Malware attacks
- SQL Injection Attack
- Denial of Service (DoS) attack
- Cross-Site Scripting attack (XSS)
- Social Engineering attacks
1. Phishing Attacks
This is arguably the most common type of cyber-attacks. In most cases, hackers will send thousands of emails, hoping that some of them will be opened. Now, don’t be naïve and think that these emails are obvious. For God’s Sake, we are talking about attackers that can figure out how our mind works in order to manipulate us.
So, an attacker will send you an email that seems to be from a trusted source, for example, your boss or a company that you trust. However, the catch is that this email will sound a bit dramatic and urgent, manipulating you to open it. And, if you do fall for it, well, there is nothing else you can do but pray. Once you open that email, you give attackers access to your personal information, passwords, etc., and much more. This is especially bad if we are talking about your company’s email address. Earlier this year, it was reported that attackers were using Gmail phishing to infect Internet users’ all over the World.
So, the best way to prevent this is to think twice about that awkward email you’ve just received, AND, hopefully, decide not to open it. Simply mark such emails and delete it to prevent for such phishing scams. Also, you can download and install trusted Antivirus on your PC and Mobile, to enable 24/7 protection shield.
This is another form of phishing attack, only this one is, let’s say, more targeted. For example, you can receive an email from “your bank or other trusted entity.” In this email, you will be asked to submit your code or login information for your account. Needless to say, this information will go into wrong hands, and that way, the money from your bank account will be sent into oblivion. RBS reported this kind of spear phishing scam which shows how the email was designed to trap users.
2. Malware Attacks
As you probably already know, a computer virus and other malicious programs are all called malware. These are created in order to do a damage to your computer or your company (through your computer). For example, some viruses will only do a small harm to your computer, slowing it down or its system crashing repeatedly. On the other hand, there is malware that will take full control over your computer, requesting you to pay a certain amount of money, or simply sending your confidential data to the hacker’s base, so that he can later make use of it.
But how does a malware get into your computer? We know that this is not easy to hear, but this usually happens with your consent. Meaning, you may download a certain file or app, not thinking whether it is safe and that way open the virtual door of the personal info for an attacker.
Image Source: Heimdal Security
Here are some of the most popular types of these malicious programs:
As the name itself suggests, this program will “spy on you,” secretly gathering information about you. With your passwords, personal photos, and credit card data at hand, attackers can cause quite a damage to you or your wallet. Usually, you can remove this malware with the help of a good antivirus software or by way of removing malware software.
Image Source: Heimdal Security
This is one of the most complicated types of malware in terms of finding and eliminating it. It is designed in such a way that you won’t even notice it is there, while a hacker can spy on you and take advantage of pretty much anything that he can find about you and on your computer.
Let us briefly explain how this malware works. Assuming you don’t know, computers are designed in layers. This means that a certain program can change/or impact the software from the same layer but cannot have an impact on software that is on a deeper level. The deepest layer of a computer is the BIOS. The BIOS controls your computer’s performance and various software aspects. Now, here comes the reason why Rootkits is so deadly for your privacy and computer. It will attack this layer, and it will not be detected by an antivirus software.
With all this being said, it is clear why this malware is considered one of the worsts out there. Like all this is not enough detecting and removing this malware is a hard task, almost impossible for someone who doesn’t know much about computers.
As the name implies, this is a sort of attack in which two or more malware work together in order to cause damage to your computer, in a highly efficient way. Blended threats are a mix of Trojans, internet worms, viruses, ransomware and more. Thanks to this powerful combination, this malware spreads quickly and is capable of causing larger damages.
Botnet attack refers to a network of computers that are infected, and all of them are controlled by a control center simultaneously. This sort of network is used in severe attacks such as DDoS (you will read about this attack later on)).
Ransomware is a malicious code that is designed for locking your screen system and files until you pay a certain amount of money to attackers. One of the famous ransomware is the CryptoLocker which obtained $3 million. In a recent Ransomware attack called ‘WannaCry Ransomware', it is reported that 45,000 devices were compromised across Europe.
Trojan horse is a program that will trick you before you know it. They contain harmful codes, therefore can cause loss of valuable data and information. However, Trojans are mostly used as a backdoor so that attackers have the total control over your computer.
Adware is a malicious code used for tracking all the things you do online as well as for feeding ads so that the advertisers can find you much faster and more easier. These soft wares are, in most cases, attachments to free programs.
Exploit kit is a smart program that won’t give up until it finds a vulnerability in your computer. It does that through researching the traffic that is exchanged between a certain web page and your computer. Then, when the Exploit Kit finds the vulnerability, it will attack your computer. Examples of most vulnerable applications are Chrome, Flash, Firefox, etc.
Logic bombs and time bombs
These are malicious codes injected into the network system. They are called bombs because they are designed to activate at a certain time or after some conditions are fulfilled.
The bombs are primarily used for deleting databases and protecting corrupted code, as well as for using personal information of a victim.
All the above-mentioned types of cyber attacks are deadly, and can seriously affect your PC and devices. Considering the increased number of attacks, it is highly recommended that we install an Antivirus software in our PC all the time.
3. SQL Injection Attack
SQL (structured query language) refers to a programming language that serves for communication with databases. Many servers use SQL in order to store vital data for business and services. As you can imagine, a SQL injection attack is designed with these servers in mind, getting access to vulnerable info through a malicious code. For example, if you run a business and use SQL for storing customers' info such as credit card numbers, passwords, and other sensitive info, well, greedy attackers will easily get to them once they attack the server. To make things even worse, some hackers are so mean that they will basically lock all the info so that the websites’ SQL server cannot use them anymore.
4. Denial of Service (DoS) attack
Image Source: Heimdal Security
Denial of Service attack is designed for shutting the website down for users. Here is an explanation how this happens. Well, when a website is flooded with too much traffic it will overload its server, making it impossible for Users to have access to it.
There is a worse scenario than the previously mentioned one, so called DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service Attack. This attack is executed simultaneously from many computers on different parts of the world. Meaning, identifying the source of the DoS attack would be pretty difficult.
5. Cross-Site Scripting attack (XSS)
Image Source: Heimdal Security
If you have a website, then read this part carefully. Cross-site scripting attack is similar to SQL injection attack; only this one targets visitors rather than the website alone. The attacker will send malicious code to your browser, so the next time when someone visits your site, that person’s info will be at attacker's hand. This can have a negative impact on your reputation since users/customers would not be very thrilled with the fact that their personal and financial information is at risk.
6. Social Engineering attacks
In these attacks, cyber criminals get in touch with the victims, to manipulate them. Since they are not what they pretend to be, their goals are gaining access to the personal and financial information of victims.
Here are most common types of these cyber-attacks.
Vishing – Voice Phishing
In this type of an engineering attack, you will be called by a person who wants to take your money. Of course, they will not tell you that, they will pretend that they are bank clerks or someone else who can get access to your personal and financial info, without you starting to wonder if you should give them your info. And when you do, unfortunately, it will be too late.
Customer support scams
This is a very popular scam in the world of cyber-attacks. Namely, an attacker will call a person who is not very skilled with computers, telling them that there is a serious problem with their software or a hardware and that that might turn into a disaster if not solved on time. Then, an attacker will tell you that you need to pay a certain amount of money so that this problem could be fixed. Naturally, people fall for their kindness, giving them money.
Obviously, the whole story was made up by an attacker so that he can get your money. Meaning, there was not any issue with your so water or hardware and you can say goodbye to the money that you gave to “that kind customer support representative.”
Catfishing is when an attacker uses dating sites and pretend to be someone else in order to get the money from an emotionally vulnerable person. The two people will text each other, but they will never meet since the scammer would claim that lives in another country. Then, at some moment, the scammer will make up a story/problem that requires a certain amount of money to be sent to him so that he can solve that “urgent problem.” Not only a victim loses their money, but he/she also ends up with a broken heart.
The Final Thoughts
Well, we came to the end of our article, leaving you with useful information that can help you understand how cyber-attack works as well as which are the most common types of cyber-attacks.
We hope that this article has broadened your horizons and contributed to your protection. You can share it with your friends and family so as to help them in realizing how dangerous installing certain applications and programs can be. Also, you and your loved ones should not open any suspicious emails, let alone share your personal info in your email.
If you have received a suspicious email, we suggest you contact your boss, bank or the person that you think had sent that email and check with them. Make sure that your Antivirus software and operating system are up to date, to keep their performance at the maximum level and minimize the risks of cyber-attacks.