Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks in 2021

Types of Cyber Attacks to Expect in 2021: Develux

Cyber attacks are on the rise. Purplesec found out that the number of cyberattacks has seen a 600% increase during the COVID-19 era. This is another challenge for businesses that may lose their money, data, and reputation as a result of network attacks. With almost 80% of companies losing faith in their cybercrimes resistance, it’s hardly surprising that 9 out of 10 companies plan to invest more in cybersecurity, according to Yahoo Finance.

Money isn’t the only solution. To protect your IT infrastructure against constant cyber threats, you need to understand the nature of different types of cyber attacks and relevant preventive measures. This is what we are going to elaborate on in this article. Besides, we will define what a cyber attack is, give examples of recent cases, and explain why criminals are constantly attacking vulnerable IT systems.

What Is a Cyber Attack?

A brief cyber attack definition is as follows: an assault on a single or numerous computers and networks launched by cyber criminals. Cyber threats focus not only on networks and various types of devices but also on entire infrastructures and information systems. 

Depending on the type of cyber crime, hackers can aim to steal, alter, and delete data, as well as destroy the whole system. Hack attacks are usually implemented for a particular purpose. For example:

  1. Espionage. According to Verizon, only about 10% of internet attacks in 2020 were driven by spying on the company’s corporate processes or confidential data for unfair competitive advantage. 
  2. Financial motivation. It’s a far more common reason for attacking businesses or individuals. Criminals either demand a ransom from the victim or sell hacked data to third parties. All in all, more than 8 out of 10 breaches in 2020 fall into the category.

In both cases, the primary target is valuable data. While in the case of individuals, it can be incriminating information to blackmail the victim, businesses should guard all of their commercial data, including user data. It has a high value on the market and can be resold to competitors or published to undermine a company's reputation. Methods of getting information vary depending on the type of cyber attack.

Common Types of Cyber Attacks

Here are the types of cyber attacks any business can encounter today:

  1. DoS and DDoS Attacks

DoS (Denial-of-Service) and DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) cyber attacks have a similar concept behind them. The former implies disrupting the system resources to the point where they can’t respond to service requests. The latter also targets the system resources but from a lot of host machines infected by malware. 

Usually, service denial isn’t the ultimate purpose of an attack. It’s just a step to launch another attack. DoS and DDoS come in different forms, including Teardrop, Smurf, and Ping of Death attacks. 

  1. MitM Attacks

MitM stands for Man-in-the-Middle, which is self-explanatory. With this type of attack, a hacker intercepts communication between a client and a server. There are several ways to do so:

  • Session Hijacking is when a hacking computer replaces a trusted client, making the server believe it’s a verified user while the session goes on.
  • IP Spoofing is a method when a cyber criminal sends a target host a packet with the known host’s IP source address, pretending to be a trusted user.
  • Replay implies saving messages from a known user, impersonating them, and sending them later.
  1. Phishing and Spear Phishing Attacks

During a phishing attack, hackers send emails that look like ones from a trusted source, aiming to get valuable information or make a user perform certain actions, for example, download a file with malware. Spear phishing is the same, but it is a very targeted cyber threat. Both types involve not only technical tricks but also social engineering practices to influence the end user.

  1. Drive-by Attacks

It’s a type of internet attack when a hacker embeds a malicious script into insecure HTTP or PHP code. As a result, a user may automatically install malware or be redirected to another website. However, drive-by downloads aren’t limited to sites only: you can download a vicious file when viewing a pop-up or email. As a result, your app, web browser, or the whole operating system can be undermined.

  1. Password Attacks

Once again, the name is self-explanatory: hackers try to obtain passwords by compromising personal data, getting access to password databases, or simply guessing. The last approach can be broken down into:

  • Brute-force method - Implies random guesses.
  • Dictionary attack - Implies trying common password variations, for example, by copying an encrypted file with passwords, applying the same encryption to a dictionary of common passwords, and comparing the outcomes.
  1. SQL Injection Attacks

An SQL injection attack takes place when an SQL query is executed to the database via the input data from a client to a server. It’s inserted into data-plane input to initiate specific SQL commands. If the attempt succeeds, the criminal can not only access a database but also modify it, shut it down, or restore the data. 

  1. XSS Attacks

At their core, cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are designed to run malicious scripts in a scriptable app or web browser. The payload with malicious JavaScript is embedded into the site’s database, allowing a hacker to:

  • Get the user’s cookie and hijack the session
  • Log keystrokes
  • Take screenshots
  • Collect data
  • Establish a remote control of the user’s device
  1. Malware Attacks

Malware or malicious software is a common type of cyber attacks when, as the name suggests, malicious software is installed on a device. There are numerous ways to perform the attack, from attaching malware to legitimate code to hiding it in an app or file. There are many types of malware:

  • Macro virus
  • Polymorphic virus
  • Stealth virus
  • Ransomware
  • Trojans
  • System or file infectors
  • Logic bombs
  • Worms
  • Droppers
  1. Birthday Attacks

This type of hack implies attacking hash algorithms, which verify the integrity of software or a message. Each hash function generates a unique message digest (MD), which characterizes a certain message. The goal of the hack attack is to find two random messages with the same MD to replace one legitimate message with the criminal’s one. The catch is that the receiver won’t notice anything as the MD is the same.

However, not all types of cyber attacks involve hackers turning to modern warfare for valuable data. They also implement:

  • Eavesdropping attacks
  • URL Interpretation
  • DNS Spoofing
  • Brute Force attacks
  • Insider cyber threats

Attack Vectors

Hack attack vectors are the tactics implemented to gain unauthorized access to a system. There are two main vectors of cyberattacks:

Social-Based

Social-based attacks are closely connected to social engineering, which is the term referring to malicious activities through human interactions. The main type of hack that relies on human vulnerability is phishing in all its manifestations. The idea is simple: a hacker manipulates a victim to make security mistakes like giving access, revealing data, or downloading a file.

The process is usually divided into three steps:

  1. Investigating the victim
  2. Gaining trust
  3. Providing an incentive to perform a specific action

The vector is so effective that almost any Internet user can encounter such a cyber attack today. In fact, Symantec found out that more than 80% of network and malware attacks, as well as any other threats, are phishing ones.  

Software/Hardware-Based

Unlike social-based attacks that are aimed at people, the software/hardware-based vector focuses on programs, applications, web browsers, and devices of all types, including not only PCs and laptops but also printers, routers, and other office equipment. 

Basically, such a malware attack happens because of vulnerabilities in the hardware elements, networks, OSs, etc. 

How to Defend Yourself From Cyber Threats? 

Modern warfare between hackers initiating cyber attacks and users fighting against them has significantly escalated. Cyber criminals are learning more and more sophisticated ways to penetrate into networks and sabotage victims, which poses significant threats for unsuspecting victims. Therefore, knowing how to prevent a hack attack is crucial to avoid losses in the future. 

Here are two main things to consider when developing a counter-attacking strategy:

  1. Educate Yourself and Your Team

Considering 95% of breaches are driven by human error, you can’t ignore the fact that people are the greatest vulnerability in your company. Therefore, extensive education is a must. You need to cover the following topics:

  • Basics of psychological manipulation: This includes learning everything from tactics phishers use to manipulate a victim to the most common channels of communication.
  • Basics of cyber security: Develop a cyber security policy and make sure your employees stick to it. They should take all the preventive measures, e.g., set up multi-factor authentication, avoid copying data to flashcards, and share access with third parties, etc. 

Remember to arrange training on a regular basis and carry out testing activities to keep your employees always on guard.

  1. Eliminate Vulnerabilities of Your Software and Hardware

Regardless of whether you worry about a malware or internet attack, the first thing you need to do is to set up reliable software that can handle modern cyber challenges. Here is what you can do:

  1. Keep Your Software Up-to-Date - consider installing a patch management system that will successfully update it in time.
  2. Provide Endpoint Protection that will safeguard all remote bridges like mobiles and laptops.
  3. Automate Data Backup in order to avoid data loss if the system shuts down.
  4. Set Up Access Setting to Private and Confidential Data to reduce the risk of insider threats.
  5. Invest in Secure Hardware, mainly network equipment like routers, that boasts advanced security measures.

State of Cyber Attacks in 2021

Attackers are always out there. On average, hack attacks happen every 39 seconds, according to the data from the University of Maryland. This means that you can’t afford even a minute of rest. Even the US-based cyber insurance company CNA Financial wasn’t safe and became a victim of an attack at the end of March 2021. A ransomware attack caused a network disruption, which forced CNA to shut down to avoid further data losses. As a result, the firm’s systems didn’t work for three days. 

Microsoft faced a similar scenario but with far more significant consequences. Because of the Microsoft Exchange Server data breach, more than 250,000 servers fell victim to the attackers. Among them were giants like the Norwegian Parliament, the European Banking Authority, and Chile's Commission for the Financial Market.

Moreover, this year has seen the largest known ransom. Hardware producer Acer suffered a ransomware attack when hackers asked for 50 million dollars. However, Acer may not be the one taking the blame but rather a Microsoft Exchange vulnerability.

The Verdict: How to Tackle Cyber Threats

With around 70% of business leaders questioning the effectiveness of their cyber security, according to Accenture, there is no time to just think. It’s time to take action! Developing a cyber security strategy should become one of your top priorities as it eliminates possible threats to smooth business operations, brand reputation, and financial prosperity, thus boosting productivity. 

To ensure the safety of your systems, you need to come up with a set of measures to tackle different types of cyber attacks. This includes educating your team about corporate cyber security policies as well as having expert IT back-up with reliable, resistant software and hardware. While employee education is your own responsibility, the latter can be delegated to a reliable vendor.

At Develux, we are eager to share our extensive expertise and experience in the field. Our engineers won’t only help you scan your IT infrastructure and find potential loopholes but also establish a well-guarded network to prevent any unwanted guests, be it hackers or malware. If you are looking for an effective partnership to curb cyber security risks, let us know! We are ready for any battle.

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