Cyber Attacks

Six Types of Cyber Attacks to Protect Against

Several types of cyber attacks can do tremendous damage to businesses. The staggered organization needs time to regain its bearings and learn what happened. When the dust settles and the facts of the attack are understood, the company issues a statement to industry news sources, as it embarks on the path back to normalcy.

One Attack, More Than One Problem

Stolen customer data strikes panic in their customer base, business continuity is at risk from a drop in customer acquisition, and insular critics opine that a lack of safeguards makes the businesses passively culpable. Effective cybersecurity is simply a requirement of operating a business in the digital age.

Cyber criminals are not overly selective when choosing the types of businesses they target. Their motives and what they hope to achieve may differ, but many are skillful enough to shift focus to a different target if the original target does something that changes a key element of the plan.

The late philosopher Susan Sontag said that courage is a neutral virtue. When the difficulty of executing any of the many cyber threat types starts to make courage seem more like foolhardiness, the more an attacker who really want to get away with his ill-gotten gain, the more likely he is to choose another potential victim.

Surviving Six Types of Attacks

It may sound dismal, but when it comes to preventing the following types of cyber attacks, businesses are engaged in a digital version of the survival of the fittest. If your goal is to detect these threats, and prepare to recover from them quickly in order to protect your business, it’s essential to be aware of these six types of cyber attacks that commonly target businesses worldwide.

1. Malware

Malware is an umbrella term for many forms of harmful software — including ransomware and viruses — that sabotage the operation of computers. That may include fully controlling the computer, recording keystrokes to steal information & passwords, or stealing private data.

Malware can be surreptitiously delivered to a computer in a variety of ways. Tricking the user into downloading what appears to be a harmless file or opening an innocent email attachment are two of the most common ploys.

The most effective way to protect users against malware is to provide users with security awareness training and purchase next-generation antivirus software. NIC can provide both.

2. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common types of cyber attacks for installing malware and extracting private data. Phishers typically send their targets a fake email that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as one of your coworkers or a third-party business partner. The email typically contains an attachment that, when clicked, installs malware on your computer. Alternatively, the link may send you to a fake website that asks for private data.

One element of phishing attacks is almost always the same: they request you to urgently address what appears to be an important matter, such as fraudulent activity regarding a business account. Because the email appears to come from a trusted source, it’s easy to see how the target can take the bait.

The most effective way to combat phishing is to implement staff awareness training, a good email spam/virus filtering solution, and event monitoring solution (SIEM). If your in-house IT department is not capable of this, a managed IT services company such as NIC can provide all of this.

3. SQL Injection Attack

Structured query language (SQL) attacks are carried out against servers that use an SQL programming language to manage various types of critical information in their databases. This type of cyber attack generally requires the perpetrator to have pro-level coding skills, as malicious code must be used to trigger servers that run SQL to reveal information that they normally wouldn’t. The perpetrator essentially targets a vulnerability in the SQL code.

The goal of an SQL attack can range from accessing a single type of business-critical information to triggering a server to reveal all of its information that is maintained in SQL code. Using a web application firewall (WAF) for applications that seek access to your databases and encrypting the information in your SQL server databases are strong protections against this common cyber threat type.

4. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack

This type of cyber attack is similar to an SQL attack in that it involves using malicious code to steal information. However, a hacker who tries to hit you with an XSS attack is typically trying to take advantage of parties that access your databases, as opposed to strictly trying to mine information from it directly. Once a user accesses your servers, the malicious code attacks the databases of the user’s computer.

Among the various types of cyber attacks, XSS attacks are especially underhanded. Because the malicious code doesn’t attack a company’s servers, the company is unlikely to know that the code is there until many users have been affected, creating a distinctive pattern of data theft. There are several cyber threat types that fall beneath the umbrella of XSS attacks. One of the easiest, least time-consuming ways to protect your company against them is to regularly use a scanning tool that reveals XSS vulnerabilities in databases that outsiders access.

5. Denial of Service (DoS) Attack

Unlike most cyber threat types, a DoS attack is typically aimed at harming the target without directly benefiting the perpetrator. They are often morally, economically, or politically motivated. A DoS attack is also one of the most simple types of cyber attacks: The perpetrator floods the server of a website with more web traffic that it is designed to handle, which creates a bottleneck of legitimate access requests that are denied. In some cases, the flood of illegitimate web traffic comes from many different computers — a scenario known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

Because all varieties of DoS attacks are carried out against the specific capabilities and protocols of the business they target, the best way to defend against the attacks is to consult an IT security provider that can create and implement a customized plan based your business’ web traffic characteristics. Properly defending against these types of cyber attacks can help prevent a business from losing thousands of dollars, if not more, in online sales.

6. Negative Commentary Attacks

Because this type of sabotage takes place on the host’s website and not your own, you can’t quash the comments with a security solution. Step one is to know whether the comments are malicious in a way that violates the host’s posting policies.

If you receive a flood of negative comments from one IP address or just a few, an angry individual or an unethical competitor may have it in for you. Another indicator that a single commenter is suffering from a case of bad character and doesn’t have a legitimate bone to pick with your business is more subtle: the tone and style of the comments are similar.

There is also the chance that a lone commentor’s writing skills are more advanced than his morals, as he takes the deceit up a notch, attempting to seem unique in each post. However,
considering that financial gain is the motive for most types of cyber attacks, this a significant amount of effort for an attack from which the perpetrator gets nothing in return but the perverse satisfaction of trolling.

Are Your Proactively Protected? Work with the Experts

The security analysts at NIC hope you never deal with these six common types of cyber attacks, but if goodwill were enough to prevent them, we wouldn’t be in business.

If your company needs measures to fully protect against these cyber threat types, contact NIC today for a free consultation. We have the experience to help ensure that your business never experiences the stress, downtime, and loss of revenue that commonly result from many types of cyber attacks.

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