According to CNBC, "In 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 847,376 complaints regarding cyberattacks and malicious cyber activity with nearly $7 billion in losses, the majority of which targeted small businesses."
As the internet has become an integral part of our society, cybercriminals have become more determined to steal financial and sensitive data from businesses, and are taking advantage of increasingly sophisticated methods for attacks.
Basic security measures like firewalls and antivirus are no longer sufficient to safeguard such data. In order to make businesses more knowledgeable about cybersecurity threats, I have enumerated below some of the major forms of attacks. In my upcoming blog post, I will provide recommendations to combat many of the listed cybersecurity threats.
Some of the Major Cybersecurity Threats
- Malware. The term malware covers various malicious software such as viruses, worms, and spyware. Malware is a serious issue for computer users, as it can cause substantial damage to computers and networks. It can steal sensitive information, corrupt or delete files, or cause system slowdowns.
- Phishing. Phishing is a type of cyber attack that uses social engineering techniques to manipulate users into providing confidential information. Attackers use emails, text messages, or phone calls to try and get the user to open a malicious link. Once opened, the malicious link can download malware onto the user’s device or redirect them to a site where sensitive information is requested. This can include username and password combinations, credit card information, social security numbers, or bank account details.
- Ransomware. Ransomware is malicious software (malware) that prevents access to files and sensitive data until the user pays a ransom. Ransomware is typically distributed through email attachments, malicious downloads, accessing malicious websites intentionally or unintentionally, and other various sources. Once the user has been infected with ransomware, the malware will encrypt the files on their computer and present the user with a ransom demand. The ransom must be paid for the files to be restored and decrypted. It is important to note that paying the ransom does not guarantee that the user will regain access to their data, as ransomware authors are known to take the money and never restore access.
- Domain Hijack. Domain hijacking, or domain spoofing, is a highly sophisticated attack that can have devastating consequences on an organization. It involves the unauthorized transfer of a domain name registration, without the knowledge or consent of the legitimate owner. This enables an attacker to gain control over a website and its associated services, such as email and files. The attacker can then redirect the website to a malicious site, or use it to spread malware and other malicious software. In some cases, the attacker can even gain access to confidential data.
- Spoofing. Spoofing refers to the act of making a message from an anonymous sender seem like it's coming from a reliable, known source. This can occur in various ways such as through emails, phone calls, or websites. Additionally, it can involve more complex techniques such as a computer mimicking an IP address, Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), or Domain Name System (DNS) server.
- Password Attacks. Password attacks are a common form of cyberattack and are often used to compromise user accounts or steal valuable data. Attackers may use social engineering techniques to obtain passwords from unsuspecting users or use malware to gain access to a system. Furthermore, attackers may employ brute force tactics by systematically trying all possible combinations of characters in an attempt to guess passwords.
- Man-in-the-middle (MITM). MITM attacks can have serious implications for both the user and the application. If a malicious actor can access the information exchanged, they could use it to gain unauthorized access to accounts, steal credentials or even commit financial fraud. In addition, if an attacker can impersonate one of the parties, they can bypass security protocols and gain access to confidential information or resources.
- URL Poisoning. URL poisoning is a malicious technique used to track a user's browsing pattern. It works by adding an identifying session ID number to the URL, which is used to record the user's activity. The process of URL poisoning is often hidden, involving hiding one URL behind another or using scripting to divert the user to a different page. This technique can be used to steal data or otherwise compromise security.
- SQL Injection. SQL injection is a serious threat to the security of any web application. It allows malicious attackers to access sensitive data, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and social security numbers.
- Cross-site scripting. Once the user clicks on the malicious link, their device may be infected with malware or a script can execute to gain access to the user's session cookie and gain access to their data. XSS attacks can also be used to hijack a user's browser, redirect users to malicious sites, manipulate data stored in their browser, or even steal their credentials.
- Denial of Service. Businesses and organizations, irrespective of their size, are vulnerable to DoS attacks. This attack aims to inundate a network or system with nefarious traffic and requests, rendering it unusable for genuine users. Therefore, the impacts of a DoS attack on a business can be quite serious, ranging from reduced productivity to lower customer satisfaction and potentially huge financial losses.
- Web Application Attacks. A web application attack is when someone tries to take advantage of vulnerabilities to get unauthorized access to sensitive information, do unauthorized things, or disrupt how the app normally works.
- Social Engineering. Social engineering is a dangerous tactic. It can be used to gain access to confidential information, disrupt operations, or even cause property damage. The most successful social engineering attacks are often highly targeted and involve a great deal of planning. Attackers use phishing, pretexting, baiting, and tailgating methods to gain access to a target's resources.
- DNS Spoofing. DNS spoofing is a method that attackers use to redirect traffic from a genuine website to a fake website that they control. This type of attack is very risky because it can intercept sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and financial data or distribute malware to obtain personal information.
- BotNet. Botnet attacks threaten online security and can cause significant financial losses. Botnets are commonly used for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, where a massive amount of simultaneous requests are made against a network or website to overwhelm its resources and cause it to crash or become unavailable. Botnet attacks can also be used for malicious activities such as credential stuffing, brute force attacks, ransomware, and phishing. Botnets can be difficult to detect and mitigate due to their distributed nature and the variety of malicious activities they can perform.
- Watering Hole. Watering hole attacks can pose a significant threat as they focus on specific user groups and can go unnoticed for prolonged periods of time. Attackers often breach a website frequently visited by members of an organization and use it as a gateway to infiltrate their network.
- Cryptojacking. Hackers can do something called cryptojacking without you knowing. They send a malicious link in an email and when you click it, they put a secret code on your device. This secret code lets them use your device to mine coins without asking you first. This code uses the device's power and electricity to get money. It makes the device slow down and can damage it. Hackers may also use it to steal cryptocurrency from wallets.
- Insider Threats. People who work for your company can use their special access to cause harm. They can hurt the mission, people, buildings, information, machines, networks, or systems. They might do it on purpose or by accident.
- Zero Day Exploit. A zero-day exploit is a highly effective form of cyber attack because the vulnerability it targets has not yet been identified and patched by the software vendor or antivirus vendors. This means that the attacker has a window of opportunity to exploit the vulnerability and gain access to sensitive information or data before any defense can be mounted. This type of attack is often difficult to detect and can cause significant damage very quickly.
- Drive-By Download. A significant cybersecurity threat is posed by drive-by downloads that can expose users to malicious code without warning. Typically, these downloads happen without the user's knowledge when an infected website is visited, malicious links are clicked, or suspicious content is downloaded from the internet. The downloaded malicious code can cause considerable damage to a computer or mobile device, ranging from severe harm to complete system failure.
- IP Spoofing. IP spoofing is a harmful action that can lead to different cyber-attacks. It involves altering IP addresses to infiltrate a system or network. The consequences of IP spoofing can be severe and long-lasting, particularly if it goes unnoticed and unaddressed for an extended period.
- Firewall Hacking. Firewall vulnerabilities can be exploited by malicious actors to gain access to confidential information, disrupt critical services, or launch other cyberattacks. Firewalls are designed to protect networks from unauthorized access and malicious activity, but any flaw in their design or implementation can be exploited by attackers. Common firewall vulnerabilities include misconfiguration, unpatched software, missing security rules, and network protocol flaws.
- Keylogger. Keylogger attacks are a form of malicious software that can be used to gain access to sensitive information. The keylogger software records every keystroke made by the user on their device, including passwords, usernames, and even credit card numbers. This information is then sent back to the attacker, who can use it for criminal purposes such as identity theft and financial fraud.
Although having a firewall and antivirus programs can help prevent some types of attacks, they are insufficient to protect against most of the threats noted earlier. To implement a comprehensive security solution for your business, conducting a formal IT assessment would be best. Nonetheless, there are a few tools you can begin using immediately to substantially enhance your cybersecurity defenses against the threats mentioned before. To learn more, check out our Protect Your Business from Cyberattacks blog.
Get in touch with us for a complete cybersecurity risk assessment.
Nibelka has worked in a client service leadership role for more than 20 years and has led the company's administrative and technical functions. She provides front-line client support and coordinates SRS service responses across all specializations. As the central point of communication, Nibelka ensures that our workscopes are customized and delivered to our clients' exact specifications. Our personal relationship with each client is one of the hallmarks of SRS services.