Home SecurityData Breach What is a cyber attack? Recent examples show disturbing trends

What is a cyber attack? Recent examples show disturbing trends

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Cyber attack definition

Simply put, a cyber attack is an attack launched from one or more computers against another computer, multiple computers or networks. Cyber attacks can be broken down into two broad types: attacks where the goal is to disable the target computer or knock it offline, or attacks where the goal is to get access to the target computer’s data and perhaps gain admin privileges on it.

8 types of cyber attack

To achieve those goals of gaining access or disabling operations, a number of different technical methods are deployed by cybercriminals. There are always new methods proliferating, and some of these categories overlap, but these are the terms that you’re most likely to hear discussed.

  1. Malware
  2. Phishing
  3. Ransomware
  4. Denial of service
  5. Man in the middle
  6. Cryptojacking
  7. SQL injection
  8. Zero-day exploits

Malware — Short for malicious software, malware can refer to any kind of software, no matter how it’s structured or operated, that “is a designed to cause damage to a single computer, server, or computer network,” as Microsoft puts itWorms, viruses, and trojans are all varieties of malware, distinguished from one another by the means by which they reproduce and spread. These attacks may render the computer or network inoperable, or grant the attacker root access so they can control the system remotely.

Phishing — Phishing is a technique by which cybercriminals craft emails to fool a target into taking some harmful action. The recipient might be tricked into downloading malware that’s disguised as an important document, for instance, or urged to click on a link that takes them to a fake website where they’ll be asked for sensitive information like bank usernames and passwords. Many phishing emails are relatively crude and emailed to thousands of potential victims, but some are specifically crafted for valuable target individuals to try to get them to part with useful information.

Denial of service — A denial of service attack is a brute force method to try stop some online service from working properly. For instance, attackers might send so much traffic to a website or so many requests to a database that it overwhelms those systems ability to function, making them unavailable to anybody. A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack uses an army of computers, usually compromised by malware and under the control of cybercriminals, to funnel the traffic towards the targets.

Man in the middle — A man in the middle attack (MITM) is a method by which attackers manage to interpose themselves secretly between the user and a web service they’re trying to access. For instance, an attacker might set up a Wi-Fi network with a login screen designed to mimic a hotel network; once a user logs in, the attacker can harvest any information that user sends, including banking passwords.

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