Understanding cyberattacks

The online world is a huge resource that has enriched out lives in many ways both personally and professionally. At the same time moving so much of our everyday on the internet has led to the increase of malicious actions. The more sophisticated our digital presence, the more sophisticated these threats have become making cyberattacks a menace to businesses and individuals on the internet. 

Attacks can be un-targeted or targeted. The former are aimed broadly, like a net in the water, toward as many devices, users, and services as possible. The latter is aimed at specific companies or individuals, probably deemed to be easier to infiltrate.  

Unfortunately, security is not taken as seriously as it should be by the organizations and individuals online. There are jokes in the industry that the hackers who perpetrate some of these high-profile breaches are more professional than the victims and their cybersecurity teams. They have adopted automated techniques, which many businesses still do no use, and have effective counter-incident response protocols. Not to mention that malware kits are available on the dark web, so even criminals without IT knowledge can orchestrate attacks. This is why the number of incidents is increasing dramatically. 

Newer systems and like technology-assisted supply chains and IoT devices are most at risk as there are not enough standards when it comes to their use to ensure protection.  

Reports show that 70% of attacks involve lateral movement techniques, which means they move around the network and are much harder to eliminate. A third of the victims have to deal with destructive attacks because this allows malicious actors to gain a better and longer grip on the system, as well as escape without consequences. 

So, let’s find out more about how these incidents happen.  

Types of cyberattacks 

A cyberattack can take various forms. In many situations, complex ruses are created to trick people into believing the information they are seeing is legitimate. Good security hygiene practices can help reduce breaches that happen this way. 

Malware 

Malware is a term used for malicious software in general. Some of its variations are spyware, ransomware, viruses, worms, and so on. They all breach a network through a vulnerability. Very many of them target users by creating dangerous links and emails that try to make people click the infected links and so get access to the system. If attachments are opened, they can install risky software. The way these cyberattacks work is by blocking access to important components of the network, or by installing software that gathers and sends data to the perpetrators. At the same time, they can make various components malfunction and the system becomes inoperable. 

Phishing 

Phishing happens through emails or other kinds of messages that pretend to come from sources you know and trust. Their goals it to get sensitive information like credentials in a system, or credit card details. They sometimes also install malware on the device used. 

Man-in-the-middle 

Man-in-the-middle attacks are deployed to eavesdrop on communications where valuable information is exchanged. The attacks infiltrate into a two-party transaction and from there they steal data. This can be done when an insecure network is used, like public Wi-Fi. The attacker becomes a sort of intermediary between the device and the network and filters everything without the knowledge of the people involved in the exchange. When a device gets breached, the attacker has control from then on and can install software that will filter other data, or process the victim’s information. 

Denial-of-service attack 

This type of attack overloads servers or networks to make them unable to offer services to users because there are no more resources or bandwidth. A variation of this is a distribute-denial-of-service attack, which is launched from multiple compromised devices.  

SQL injection 

An SQL injection means that malicious code is inserted in a server that uses SQL which leads it to reveal information not normally shared. An attacker can simply submit the code in a website search box if the website is vulnerable.  

Zero-day exploit 

Malicious actors target systems that are not completely protected. In the world of cybersecurity, there are constant updates about vulnerabilities. Once one is discovered work starts to remedy it. Between the time of discovery and patch application, there is an amount of time that leaves systems at the mercy of cyberattacks 

DNS Tunnelling 

DNS is crucial for the existence of the internet. It is how accessing different sites happens. In some cases, a data trail remains. This is comprised of various information about the querant. Nowadays there are a number of tools available to create hidden channels to hide various data transfers and other traffic, or to escape policies applied by network administrators. DNS requests are used to exfiltrate data from a system previously compromised. Attackers can also deploy command and control call-backs from their infrastructure to the breached system. 

Stages of a cyberattack 

Survey 

The first thing a malicious actor does is to analyze the target and gather as much information as possible about the potential vulnerabilities. 

Delivery 

After waiting patiently and building a profile of the victim, attackers know how to find the right moment to exploit the targeted system. They do this through phishing techniques, or by creating a website that lures users into offering sensitive data like login info. 

Breach 

Once they have gained entrance, they can either obstruct the functionality of the system, take control of it, or change the system to consolidate their presence there. In the latter situation, even if the attackers make their presence known are fought back, and the system goes back to normal, trails remain in the system, undetected, and the malicious actors can continue to have access to their victim’s devices. 

Affect 

When the breach has happened the perpetrators can accomplish their goal, either ask for a ransom, cause damage to the organization through prolonged downtime, or steal intellectual property, make changes to payment systems for their benefit, etc. 

Conclusion 

One of the many problems of current systems is that security staff does not take patching seriously enough and it is not done on time to prevent vulnerabilities. Ransomware-as-a-service is growing rapidly. More and more types of organizations are targeted. Making prevention of cyberattacks a priority will only benefit your company. It is not something to ignore, or not maintain updated. The future of your business is at stake 

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