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Cyber attacks, what are they?

In today’s world, cyber-attacks have become a threat to the security of nations, and cybersecurity has become more important than ever. With the increasing threats to companies, having strong security measures in place has become extremely necessary. We’ve all heard of companies facing hefty fines or even shutting down due to a simple breach in their systems, and there are simply too many threats to ignore – from ransomware to phishing scams, it could cost you your livelihood. Therefore, prevention is key, and in this article, we’ll outline 10 ways to prevent cyber-attacks and effectively protect your business.

The Concept of Cyber Attacks

A cyber attack refers to an action designed to target a computer or any element in a computerized information system to alter, destroy, or steal data, as well as exploit or damage the network. Cyber attacks have increased with the popularity of digitized businesses in recent years.

So, what makes cyberattacks occur? 

Cyber attacks aim to disable, disrupt, destroy, control, alter, block, delete, process, or steal computer systems or the data within them.

Cyber attacks are designed to cause harm and can have various objectives, including:

  • Most internet criminals carry out cyber attacks against businesses to gain financial gains. These attacks often aim to steal sensitive data.
  • Finally, accessing customers’ credit card numbers or employees’ personal information, which internet criminals then use to access money or goods using the victims’ identities.

Types of Cyber Attacks:

1- DoS and DDoS Attacks

  • A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is designed to exhaust system resources to the point where it’s unable to respond to legitimate service requests. It resembles a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in that it also aims to drain system resources. A DDoS attack begins with a wide array of infected host devices controlled by the attacker. These attacks are termed “denial of service” attacks because the victim’s site is unable to provide service to those seeking to access it. During a DoS attack, the targeted website is flooded with illegitimate requests. Since the website must respond to each request, all responses consume its resources, making it impossible for the site to serve users as usual, often resulting in a complete shutdown.

2- MITM Attacks

  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks refer to cybersecurity breaches that allow attackers to eavesdrop on data transmitted between two parties, networks, or computers. In an MITM attack, the parties involved feel they’re communicating as usual, unaware that the sender is modifying or illegitimately accessing the message before it reaches its destination. Some ways to protect yourself and your organization from MITM attacks include using strong encryption on access points or employing a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

3- Phishing Attacks

  • Phishing attacks occur when malicious individuals send emails that appear to be from legitimate and trusted sources in an attempt to obtain sensitive information from the target. Phishing attacks blend social engineering with technology. Named as such because the attacker is essentially “fishing” for access to a forbidden area using “bait” from a seemingly trustworthy sender, executing the attack might involve sending a link that redirects you to a deceptive website, tricking you into downloading malware like viruses, or providing the attacker with your personal information. In many cases, the target may not realize they’ve been compromised, allowing the attacker to infiltrate others within the same institution without raising suspicion.

4- Whale Phishing Attacks

  • Named for targeting the “big fish” or executives within an organization, who typically possess information valuable to attackers, such as proprietary information about the company or its operations. If the targeted “whale” downloads ransomware, they’re likely to pay the ransom to prevent the spread of news of the successful attack and damage to their or the organization’s reputation. Whale phishing attacks can be prevented by taking similar precautions to avoid regular phishing attacks, such as carefully scrutinizing email messages and attachments, and monitoring suspicious destinations or parameters.

5- Ransomware

  • With Ransomware, the victim’s system remains hostage until they agree to pay a ransom to the attacker. After the payment is sent, the attacker then provides instructions on how to regain control of the target’s computer. The term “ransomware” fits well since the malicious program asks the victim to pay a ransom. In a ransomware attack, the target downloads ransomware either from a website or within an email attachment. The malware is written to exploit vulnerabilities not addressed by the system manufacturer or IT team. The ransomware then encrypts the target’s workstation. Sometimes, ransomware can be used to attack multiple parties by preventing access to many computers or a central server crucial for business operations.

Most known Cyber Attacks

1- Password Attack:

  • Passwords are the preferred access verification tool for most individuals. Therefore, knowing the target’s password is an attractive prospect for intruders. This can be achieved through various methods, often individuals keep copies of their passwords on pieces of paper or sticky notes around their desks or on them. In this attack, the attacker can either find the password themselves or pay someone from the inside to obtain it.

2- SQL Injection Attack:

  • SQL injection is a common method to exploit websites that rely on databases to serve their users. Clients are devices that retrieve information from servers, and an SQL attack uses an SQL query sent from the client to the database on the server. The command, or “injection,” is inserted into the data layer instead of something else that usually goes there, like a password or log in, then the server retaining the database runs the command, and the system is compromised.

3- DNS Spoofing Attack:

  • Through DNS spoofing, the intruder alters DNS records to redirect traffic to a fake or “deceptive” website. Once on the fraudulent site, the victim enters sensitive information that the intruder can then use or sell. The intruder also creates a low-quality website containing derogatory or inciting content to make a competing company look bad.
    In a DNS spoofing attack, the attacker exploits the fact that the user believes the site they are visiting is legitimate. This gives the attacker the ability to commit crimes in the name of an innocent company, at least from the visitor’s perspective.

Most known Cyber Attacks of 2023

Here are some examples of common cyberattacks and types of data breaches:

  • Identity Theft, Fraud, and Extortion:

These involve stealing personal identities, engaging in fraudulent activities, or extortion attempts.

  • Malware, Phishing, Spam, Spoofing, Spyware, Trojans, and Viruses:

These encompass various types of malicious software aimed at infiltrating systems or stealing data.

  • Stolen Devices:

Such as laptops or mobile devices being physically taken, leading to potential data breaches.

  • Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks:

These attacks aim to disrupt or halt the services provided by a server, network, or website.

  • Access Breaches:

Unauthorized access to systems or networks, often exploiting vulnerabilities.

  • Password Hacking:

Gaining unauthorized access to accounts by cracking passwords.

  • Website Defacement:

Altering the appearance or content of a website to spread a message or cause harm.

  • Exploiting Web and Public Browser Vulnerabilities:

Taking advantage of weaknesses in web browsers or public software to gain access.

  • Misuse of Instant Messaging:

Utilizing instant messaging platforms for fraudulent or malicious purposes.

  • Intellectual Property (IP) Theft or Unauthorized Access:

Unauthorized access or theft of intellectual property.

Protecting Against Cyber Attacks:

Attackers often target vulnerabilities in DNS servers. Keeping software updated with the latest patches to close known security loopholes is crucial. Stay tuned to learn more about protection methods.

Direct Cyber Attacks:

1- Web Attacks:

  • Web attacks target vulnerabilities in web-based applications. Every time you input information into a web application, you initiate a response. For instance, when you transfer money using online banking, the data you input directs the application to access your account, withdraw funds, and transfer them elsewhere. Attackers work within these request systems, using them to their advantage.
    Common web attacks include SQL injection and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), which will be discussed later in this article. Attackers also employ Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) attacks and parameter manipulation. In a CSRF attack, the victim is tricked into acting beneficial to the attacker.

2- Trojans:

  • A Trojan horse attack involves hiding malicious software within seemingly legitimate programs. When the user executes the supposedly innocent program, the embedded malware can open a backdoor in the system, allowing intruders to penetrate the computer or network. This threat derives its name from the Greek story of soldiers hiding inside a wooden horse to infiltrate the city of Troy and win the war. Once the “gift” was accepted and brought into the gates of Troy, the Greek soldiers emerged and attacked the city.

3- Eavesdropping Attacks:

  • Eavesdropping attacks involve a malicious actor intercepting traffic as it traverses the network. This way, the attacker can gather usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information such as credit card details. Eavesdropping can be either active or passive. Through active eavesdropping, the intruder inserts a part of the program into the network traffic path to collect information, which the intruder then analyzes for useful data. Passive eavesdropping differs in that the intruder “listens” or eavesdrops on the transmission looking for valuable data to steal.

Ways to Protect Against Cyber Attacks

To safeguard against cyber attacks, it’s essential to start by:

1- Training Your Employees

One of the most common ways cybercriminals access your data is through your employees. Hackers often send phishing emails impersonating someone within your organization, requesting either personal details or access to specific files.

Links within these emails often appear legitimate to the untrained eye, making it easy to fall into the trap. This underscores the vital importance of raising awareness among your employees about such threats.

2- Verify Links Before Clicking:

Before clicking on any links, it’s crucial to verify their authenticity. Check email addresses carefully to ensure they are from legitimate senders.

  • Exercise Caution Before Sharing Sensitive Information:

Use sound judgment before sharing sensitive information. If a request seems suspicious, it’s likely a form of cyber intrusion.

  • Confirm Through Phone Call:

Before executing any requests, ensure authenticity by confirming through a phone call with the relevant person.

3- Keep Your Software and Systems Fully Updated:

Cyber attacks often occur because your systems or software are not fully updated, leaving vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals exploit these weaknesses to gain access to your network, and by the time they’re in, it’s often too late for preventive measures.

It’s wise to invest in a patch management system that will handle all software and system updates, ensuring flexibility and continuous updating of your system.

4- Endpoint Protection:

Endpoint protection safeguards networks connected to remote devices, providing pathways for threats to access company networks. These pathways, utilized by mobile devices, tablets, and laptops connected to corporate networks, require protection using specific endpoint protection software.

5- Install a Firewall:

With numerous types of sophisticated data breaches emerging daily, setting up your network behind a firewall remains one of the most effective ways to defend against any electronic attack. A firewall system will block any aggressive attacks on your network and/or systems before they cause any harm, Something we can help you with.

6- Backup Your Data:

In the event of a disaster (often an electronic attack), it’s imperative to keep a backup of your data to avoid critical downtime, data loss, and substantial financial losses.

7- Secure Your Wi-Fi Device:

Who doesn’t have a Wi-Fi-enabled device in 2024? That’s precisely the danger. Any device connecting to the network can potentially be compromised. If such a compromised device connects to your work network, the entire system is at significant risk.

Securing your Wi-Fi networks and hiding them is one of the safest things you can do for your systems. With wireless technology advancing every day, thousands of devices can connect to your network and pose a threat.

Best practices ensure the following:

  • Embrace the Zero Trust Framework:

Organizations must verify every attempt to access their network or systems, whether from an internal user or another system.

  • Utilize Anti-Malware Software:

Employing antivirus software provides an additional layer of protection against cyber attacks.

  • Implement Patch Management:

Patch management is a useful tool for fixing known software vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

  • Set Appropriate Security Configurations:

Establish proper security configurations, password policies, and user access controls.

  • Maintain Monitoring and Detection Software:

Keep monitoring and detection software active to identify and alert to suspicious activities.

  • Implement Perimeter Defenses:

Deploy perimeter defenses like firewalls to help prevent attack attempts and access to known malicious areas.

Examining Cybersecurity Dangers: From Notable Incidents to Security Solutions.

The most popular cyberattacks

With the surge and sophistication of cyberattacks, several trends have emerged, shaping the landscape of cybersecurity. Here, we delve into three prevailing trends exemplified by notable incidents:

1. Russian Cyber Campaigns Against Ukraine:

In February 2022, Russia initiated a series of cyberattacks targeting Ukraine. These attacks often intertwine with political motives, aiming either to infiltrate Ukrainian servers for intelligence gathering or to disrupt political processes.

2. Twitter Breach of July 2020:

In a high-profile incident, hackers gained access to prominent Twitter accounts in July 2020, raising concerns about the platform’s security measures.

3. Marriott-Starwood Data Breach (November 2018):

The breach affecting Marriott’s Starwood hotels, disclosed in November 2018, exposed the personal data of over 500 million guests, highlighting the severe repercussions of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the hospitality industry.

Identifying Cybersecurity Threat Vectors:

Navigating the realm of cybersecurity threats can be daunting. From malware to phishing schemes, the array of potential risks can overwhelm even the most vigilant organizations. Understanding the sources of threats is crucial for implementing effective security measures.

Mitigating Risks with Comprehensive Solutions:Addressing cybersecurity threats demands a multifaceted approach. Businesses need tailored solutions to protect their assets and employees from evolving threats. At MyHostZone, we offer comprehensive cybersecurity assessments tailored to your organization’s needs. Contact us today for a commitment-free evaluation and embark on your journey to a safer digital environment.

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