Nowadays, cybercriminals are putting more sophistication and effort into hacking sites and stealing data than they ever have before. This is because we now conduct so much of our lives online and data has become one of the most valuable resources in the world. Understandably, this can be very concerning for both individuals and for businesses who want to keep their sensitive information safe.
And the best way to be able to protect yourself from a cyber-attack is to be able to recognise the most common scams out there and understand what these mean. While you may have heard some of the more common phrases like ‘phishing’ or ‘malware’ there are lots of cyber buzzwords you may not be aware of. In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at the different types of cyber-attacks out there, so you can better prepare yourself and keep yourself safe online.
Phishing is one of the most common and familiar cyber-attacks out there and can be used in a number of ways. In fact, most of us have experienced this type of scam at one time or another. Phishing is when a hacker tries to trick you into clicking on a malicious link or downloading dangerous software. They may also use phishing tactics to try and trick you into sharing your personal information with them, so they can use this to hack into your accounts or create fake accounts using your credentials.
Cybercriminals can target their victims in a number of ways using phishing techniques. The most common is phishing emails, but as people become more reliant on their smartphones, they may also use text message or voicemail. In most cases, the hackers pretend to be a legitimate source like a shop, bank or governing body and ask the receiver to reply or call back and reveal their personal details.
When using ransomware, hackers install malicious software on your devices which then blocks access to your files and information. The cybercriminal will then threaten to either publish or delete your data unless a ransom is paid to them. For example, if they’re able to hack your smartphone they may have access to all your photos, videos, apps and information stored within, something which you don’t want shared or erased. That said, there is no guarantee they will restore access once the ransom has been paid so it is often better to try and track/block the hackers than to adhere to their demands.
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is when a cybercriminal attempts to tamper with website traffic in order to overwhelm the system and crash the site. This is usually done in the hopes of achieving one of two things. They may be trying to get revenge on an organisation by bringing down their website or they may be using this as a distraction while they break into other parts of the system and cause trouble elsewhere.
A virus is a piece of malicious code or programming, designed to infect your devices. This then stops your computer operating the way it should and can crash your systems. It is also designed to spread from one computer to another much like a real virus would spread. This is done without the user’s knowledge and can spread in a number of ways, these include infected websites, infected email attachments, damaged plugins or devices (like USBs) or infected adverts. With each person that downloads or clicks on these infected sources, the virus spreads to another device.
A drive-by cyber-attack is when a hacker targets their victims through there internet browser. As soon as the user visits an infected website, malware will be installed on their device. It happens so quickly that it’s like a drive-by. This can also happen on legitimate sites if these have been compromised by hackers. They either use these sites to infect devices directly, or they can use these legitimate sites to redirect users to an infected site where malware is then installed.
MITM (Man in the Middle)
By acting as the man in the middle (MITM), cybercriminals are able to alter communications between two users. The users are not aware that they are interacting with a cybercriminal instead of each other, this allows the hacker to pretend to be both victims and that way they can manipulate the conversations and gain access to both their personal data.
When a new software vulnerability is discovered and exposed, either on an outdated program or a new software that has just been released, cybercriminals are straight on the case trying to exploit this. By jumping on a new vulnerability right away, hackers have the potential to bring down entire systems, they just need to get to it before the developers find a fix.
In fact, that’s why zero-day attacks have been given this name because they give developers zero-days to fix the problem once it has been identified. They must find a fix as quickly as possible if they hope to beat the hackers and save their software. Problem is, we live in an age where people share everything online, so while someone may innocently be warning users about the vulnerability in the system, they’re also alerting hackers to a hole in the software which they then exploit.
A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection can only be used on a server that uses SQL. The injection occurs when malicious code is inserted into an SQL database or server. This can be done by something as simple as putting this malicious code into a website’s search box, which is what makes it one of the most common types of cyber-attack.
Once the dangerous code has been injected it can be used to access, modify or delete data stored within the site. It could even shut down the entire database or send commands to the operating system. That said, this type of cyber-attack is usually only successful if a vulnerability already exists within the software that the criminals are targeting.