The Top Cyberattacks You Need to Know About
A hacker attacks every 44 seconds using multiple methods to steal sensitive information and data. Some of these methods include phishing, malware, and stalkerware.
Companies with large amounts of client and employee information are especially at risk. Backing up data, controlling access to company devices, and properly disposing of them are good practices that will help prevent cyberattacks.
Phishing is a famous forms of cyberattacks involving hackers masquerading as trusted entities to trick victims into revealing personal information or credentials. The attacks take on many different forms — email, text, instant messaging, and voice, and can be targeted at individuals or entire organizations — but all share the same goal. A typical phishing attack will urge a victim to take action urgently, which could result in them downloading malware or revealing their login details to a fake website.
These days, phishing is often carried out using social media platforms that provide criminals access to a wealth of personal information. Criminals may use this data to craft cloned websites, fake posts or tweets, or even reply to existing comments under a victim’s account. Spear phishing is another form of phishing that involves attackers targeting specific people within an organization – usually senior executives or human resources managers – to trick them into divulging sensitive information.
Some phishing attacks are easy for software to detect, but others can be hard for humans to spot. For example, some attackers can hide the brand logo of a business in their phishing emails or pages to avoid detection by filtering programs that look for that attribute. Other tactics to evade detection include:
- The use of minimal email content.
- Modifying the HTML attributes of logos to make them more challenging to identify.
- The injection of malicious code into legitimate websites to display popups and redirect users to phishing sites.
Malware (malicious software) attacks exploit security weaknesses to steal data, hijack systems, or spread infections. This broad cyber attack category includes ransomware, trojans, spyware, viruses, worms, and keyloggers.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts files and demands payment to decrypt them. It spreads through phishing emails, infected web ads, and vulnerable programs or files. Cybercriminals may even leave USB drives with enticing names in public places to trick people into plugging them into their devices, where they get infected.
The most notorious example of ransomware was the 2017 WannaCry attack that hit dozens of global organizations. The cyberattack cost these companies millions in lost revenue.
Other types of malware include man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, where attackers eavesdrop on information sent back and forth between two parties. These attacks typically leverage security vulnerabilities, such as unsecured public WiFi networks, to infiltrate a network and steal sensitive data.
Businesses most at risk of a malware attack include those that generate or store large amounts of digital data operate online, or work with external clients. To prevent these cyberattacks, cybersecurity professionals recommend implementing an enforceable password policy, providing staff with regular training on best practices, and implementing secure software.
DDoS attacks flood systems, servers, and networks with fake internet traffic to saturate bandwidth and make the system unavailable. These attacks can also impede the processing of legitimate requests by a targeted network/server/application.
A DDoS attack often uses multiple compromised computers — bots — to send spoofed data packets on an enormous scale. Attackers exploit device weaknesses or security vulnerabilities to control these bots. Once in control of many of them, the attacker can launch a massive DDoS against their target.
These types of attacks are becoming increasingly common and complex. They may involve Layer 7 HTTP flood attacks that are hard to detect because they look like legitimate traffic. They can consume a server’s resources and shut down a website or online service.
Another DDoS attack is an SYN attack that exploits weaknesses in the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) three-way handshake to occupy open ports on the targeted server with spoofed requests. Attackers continue to send these spoofed requests until the table memory connection of the targeted server is exhausted.
Businesses that handle sensitive information or have a large customer base are especially vulnerable to DDoS attacks. They contain valuable customer, financial, and employee data, such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, company research, contract negotiations, client pitches, and personal health records.
Ransomware attacks encrypt data on a device or network file system and demand a ransom in exchange for access to the data. The sensitivity of the data, combined with the threat to disrupt or even shut down operations, can have a tremendous impact on organizations.
Ransom attacks are growing in scope and sophistication. Attackers now target supply chains to extend their impact beyond a single organization. In 2021, the Sodinokibi ransomware attack targeted many managed service providers, such as Kaseya and JBS. The attackers targeted these firms because they support a significant percentage of remote workers.
While the underlying risks of ransomware remain unchanged (phishing, RDP exploitation, and software vulnerabilities), it’s essential to focus on mitigating those risks with a layered approach that includes cybersecurity infused across your organization from endpoint to email to DNS. It includes deception-based detection and strategically plants hidden files in your file storage system. It identifies ransomware encryption behaviors early in the attack cycle by looking for read/write/rename behavior on those hidden files.
Preparing for ransom attacks is also critical to ensuring a solid backup plan. It should include disabling networks and WiFi in case of a ransomware attack and having emergency protocols that immediately disconnect infected machines.