A cyber attack is when one or more computers launch an attack against another computer, a group of computers or an entire network. There are two broad types of
cyber attack categories, the first being when the main objective is to knock the computer offline or completely disable it. The second type is designed to gain access on a device to target data, personal information or to gain admin access rights.
With cyber-attacks, there are seldom two that are exactly alike. That being said, there are several types of common strategies and tactics frequently used, largely due to their effectiveness. Cyber criminals often are not looking to reinvent the wheel and will utilize common techniques with high success rates such as phishing or malware.
As a business owner, it is essential to keep abreast of the latest strategies that hackers may use to infiltrate your organization and cause a data breach. Below, we will explain some of the most common ways that attackers try and cause harm to businesses.
Most individuals have had some experience with malware. When an anti-virus notification pops up, advising suspicious content or a website has been blocked, it often means that you have had a close encounter with malware. Malware is incredibly effective and attackers love using it as a means to access an individual’s computer and gain a foothold amongst the other computers in the office or on the same network.
Malware itself comes in a variety of forms and can cause all sorts of chaos. The word malware refers to a form of harmful software and it can be used as a virus or a ransomware attack to demand payment. Once the malware has been installed on your machine, it can perform several actions from monitoring your activity and keystrokes to copying your personal and confidential files or even completely taking control of your machine.
Cyber criminals use several methods to try and get malware installed on your machine, however, it does require some type of action from the user to begin the installation. Often malware is sent in the form of a legitimate looking email containing a PDF or Word document to trick the user into opening the attachment. Other methods are links that look legitimate but direct the user to a download file – when the user clicks the link or opens the document, a malware installer is activated.
Most people are cyber aware enough to not just click on random or suspicious links or attachments and criminals know this. This is where phishing comes into play. Often, attackers will use a phishing tactic, where they pretend to be someone or something you know or trust to get you to divulge sensitive information.
Phishing also relies on human curiosity to bait people into taking actions that they normally wouldn’t or before they take a moment to validate the legitimacy. An example of this can be an employee receiving an email that appears to be from their boss and flagged as urgent. It may claim that fraudulent activity has been detected on an employee credit card and contain a link to login and verify purchases. Of course, the link and website it points to is a trap that will try and capture that user’s login credentials or other sensitive data like credit card numbers, security codes, etc.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language that databases use to communicate. Many servers that store confidential and critical information for businesses, websites and servers use SQL to manage their databases. Cyber criminals will use what is known as a SQL injection attack to specifically attack a server by using malicious code to get the server to divulge information that it is restricted from sharing. Cyber criminals will use this type of attack to try and gain private customer information like usernames/passwords, credit card numbers or other personal information. These attacks work if the criminal can find some type of SQL vulnerability on a website and then can manipulate the server into disclosing sensitive information.
These are just three of the common cyber threats’ businesses face today. While it is important to know what your business is up against as far as cyber threats go, even more important is ensuring that you have the right protection for your organization. To review where your business stands, get a free security assessment today.