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What Are the Most Common Cyberattacks?

A cyberattack is a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization. Usually, the attacker seeks some type of benefit from disrupting the victim’s network.


How often do cyberattacks occur?

Cyberattacks hit businesses every day. Former Cisco CEO John Chambers once said, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those who don’t yet know they have been hacked.” According to the Cisco Annual Cybersecurity Report, the total volume of events has increased almost fourfold between January 2016 and October 2017.

Why do people launch cyberattacks?

Cybercrime has increased every year as people try to benefit from vulnerable business systems. Often, attackers are looking for ransom: 53 percent of cyberattacks resulted in damages of $500,000 or more.

Cyberthreats can also be launched with ulterior motives. Some attackers look to obliterate systems and data as a form of “hacktivism.”

What is a botnet?

A botnet is a network of devices that has been infected with malicious software, such as a virus. Attackers can control a botnet as a group without the owner’s knowledge with the goal of increasing the magnitude of their attacks. Often, a botnet is used to overwhelm systems in a distributed-denial-of-service attack (DDoS) attack.

Common types of cyberattacks

Malware

Malware is a term used to describe malicious software, including spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. Malware breaches a network through a vulnerability, typically when a user clicks a dangerous link or email attachment that then installs risky software. Once inside the system, malware can do the following:

  • Blocks access to key components of the network (ransomware)
  • Installs malware or additional harmful software
  • Covertly obtains information by transmitting data from the hard drive (spyware)
  • Disrupts certain components and renders the system inoperable

Phishing

Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is an increasingly common cyberthreat.

What Is Phishing?


Man-in-the-middle attack

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, also known as eavesdropping attacks, occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction. Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.

Two common points of entry for MitM attacks:

1. On unsecure public Wi-Fi, attackers can insert themselves between a visitor’s device and the network. Without knowing, the visitor passes all information through the attacker.

2. Once malware has breached a device, an attacker can install software to process all of the victim’s information.


Denial-of-service attack

A denial-of-service attack floods systems, servers, or networks with traffic to exhaust resources and bandwidth. As a result, the system is unable to fulfill legitimate requests. Attackers can also use multiple compromised devices to launch this attack. This is known as a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.


SQL injection

A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection occurs when an attacker inserts malicious code into a server that uses SQL and forces the server to reveal information it normally would not. An attacker could carry out a SQL injection simply by submitting malicious code into a vulnerable website search box.

Learn how to defend against SQL injection attacks.


Zero-day exploit

A zero-day exploit hits after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time. Zero-day vulnerability threat detection requires constant awareness.


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