7 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks and How to Prevent Them

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  • #2347

    A cyber attack is an intentional malicious attempt to attack, damage or illegally access information systems for some benefit or ulterior motives.Recently, the  gross volume of cyber attack instances have increased. This can be associated with the mass migration to digital platforms as a result of constantly evolving technology. Making computing systems lucrative targets for hackers. Business systems are particularly very vulnerable because of the ransom involved. The most common cyber attacks include:

    1. Password attacks

    Passwords are the most popular type of authentication to computer information systems,  computer networks, personal computer devices or infrastructures. A person’s password can be obtained through:

    • Guessing probable words. This can be done in either one of two ways. First, using a dictionary of common passwords where an encrypted file is copied and the same encryption applied to the dictionary for comparison. Alternatively, trying different passwords especially related to the person’s name, birthday, pet , job title among others hoping one works. It is called the brute-force method.
    • Looking over the shoulder as a person keys in the password
    • Looking around the person’s desk since some people actually write on sticky note pads or post its and stick it on the desk or computer itself
    • Using social engineering
    • Accessing a password database
    • Hacking the connection to a network for unencrypted passwords

    The best way to deal with this is to implement an account lockout policy, which basically blocks an account after a couple incorrect passwords.

    2. Malware attacks

    Malware is derived from the two terms “malicious software”. There are different types of malware:

    • Viruses
    • Spyware
    • Ransomware
    • Worms

    Usually, they come in form of a link or email attachments. Once clicked, the malware is installed then it can:

    • Disrupt some components
    • Make the system totally inoperable
    • Transmit data from the hard drive
    • Instal addition risky software
    • Block access to major components

    To prevent malware attacks, you can adapt practices such as getting rid of outdated software, keep internet activity active, log out when you’re done, upgrade your password among others.

    3. Phishing attacks

    These also include spear phishing attacks. They are the offensive actions of sending fraudulent communication that seems to come from a trusted source, commonly via email. Phishing attacks have become increasingly infamous cyberthreats. The goal is to get personal data like credit card and login information or manipulate the victim to do something. It can be a link to a scam website that can trick you into handing over personal information or an attachment that loads dangerous software onto your device.

    Hackers rely on technical tricks and social engineering to achieve this. In spear phishing, attackers conduct research of their target on social media or other platforms and create an email that is relatable to the user. This makes it very hard to identify as an attack or protect against it.

    For example: they can see from social media that you love The Big Bang Theory. So they will draft an email claiming to give you full access to watch all the episodes of the series, actually for free with only the click of a single link. As a fan, you end up clicking the link without giving it any further thought. Techniques that scammers use include:

    • Website cloning

    Here they copy legitimate websites to trick you into entering login credentials or personally identifiable information, abbreviated as PII

    • Email spoofing

    They impersonate a trusted source like a partner, a loved one or your management and falsify the “From” section of the email, making it appear as if it’s an email from a person you know well.

    To defend yourself against such attacks you can practice some of the following:

    • Carefully examine email headers

    The “Return-Path” and the “Reply-to” parameters should lead to the same stated domain.

    • Critical thinking

    Take your time and analyze every unread email in your inbox. In addition, decipher the URLs of the links.

    • Sandboxing

    Test the content of the email in a sandbox environment.

    • Hovering over suspicious links

    Drag your mouse over the link but do not click. See where it could take you.

    4. Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

    DoS and DDoS attacks are meant to exhaust resources and bandwidth by overwhelming servers, systems or networks with traffic. DDoS use botnets to achieve this. Botnets are a network of computers infected with malware, which can be operated as a group without the owners’ knowledge. They can be mitigated by:

    • Black hole filtering

    Drops unwanted traffic before it enters a protected network.

    • RFC3704 filtering

    Ensure traffic is traceable to its correct network source and reject traffic from spoofed addresses.

     

    Unlike most attacks, attackers don’t benefit directly from it and usually use this attack to sabotage a system and launch another attack. There are different types of DoS and DDoS. Among them are:

    5. Teardrop attacks

    They cause confusion and subsequently crash a system. This is done by overlapping  the length and fragmentation offset fields in sequential Internet Protocol (IP) packets.

    • TCP SYN flood attacks

    The system becomes unusable when the connection queue fills up.Hackers manipulate the function of the buffer space during a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) session initialization handshake. This system is flooded with minute in-process queue with connection requests, it replies to these requests but are not responded to and times out waiting for a response.

    To prevent this, you can decrease timeouts on connections, increase the size of connection queues or place servers behind a firewall configured to stop inbound SYN packets

    6. Smurf attacks

    They generate huge amounts of network congestion. ICPM echo requests originating from a seemingly spoofed victim address targeted at broadcast IP addresses are used. IP spoofing and the ICMP saturate the system with traffic.

    To counter such attacks, you need to  configure the end systems to defend them against responding to ICMP packets from broadcast addresses. Secondly, you can disable IP-directed broadcasts at their routers. This disables ICMP echo broadcast requests at network devices.

    7. Ping of death attacks

    Causes systems experience buffer overflows among other crashes reassembling IP packets. The maximum IP size is 65,535 bytes. Attackers use IP packets to ping systems with an IP size exceeding this limit, resulting in fragmentation of the packet. These attacks can be stopped by getting a firewall that will check fragmented IP packets for maximum size.

    #2350

    we still need to figure out the threats and the difficulties in our actual life, and now we have to be aware about the other threats that comes from the cyber world.

    great information!

    #2351

    Great article. There are many ways we can adapt to prevent these threats. The most and recommended one is you should avoid replying or clicking on the link send to your email. By clicking on these links, you will be giving hackers access to your personal data like password among others.

    #2527
    #5944

    Extremely accurate and relevant article. I have to admit that I myself have fallen prey to a few these, back when I opted for using easily guessable personal information for passwords. I now admit humbly that this wasn’t a genius move. Yet, it has never gone as far as someone looking over my shoulder to try and catch my keystrokes. That would be next level idiocy on my part. In any case, good articles, great information, and further proof on the importance of cyber security and the need for caution.

    #6060

    So many ways that people can penetrate systems and whisk away information and cause damage. I was barely aware of these attacks, and I am sure I am in the majority. In this day and age, cyber warfare is the real threat, and it is there every day. We need to all ride the wave and seek to be very well versed in the matter.

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