Cyber threat is a malicious act whose objective is to steal or damage data or cause some kind of digital mishap. Cyber-attacks include threats like computer virus and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Since it is difficult imagining how an attack can be carried out by the means of digital signals travelling through a wire, we have given this digital incident a physical existence.
Cyber threats can be redefined as an attack on our digital devices in cyber-space. Though cyber-space is virtual, the intentions of the attacker are real. The intensity of these attacks ranges from simple bothersome ones to potentially serious crimes. If numbers are to be believed, Verizon reveals that 52% of breaches featured hacking, 28& involved malware and about 32-33% include Phishing! Let’s quickly go through about each of them.
What are the most common types of cyber threats?
Malware is a malicious software which when enters a system or a network without the permission of the owner, steals data and corrupts the device. Though malware does not damage our hardware, it can alter and delete data, hijack the core computer functions and spy on your computer activities. Viruses, Trojans and Ransomware are the different types of malware.
Disguised as standard software, Trojan is a type of malware that releases the malicious code after entering the host system. It is named after the Trojan Horses of ancient Greek history. Users are tricked into loading and executing Trojans into their systems. Once they are activated, they can enable cyber-criminals to gain backdoor access to your device.
Phishing is the method deceiving users into disclosing confidential information through the use of misleading e-mails and websites. The user is tricked into believing that the message is something important that they need, like a bank request or a message from the office which requires you to click to open a link or to download an attachment thereby letting the malware in.
Spear phishing is a more sophisticated form of phishing. The e-mails are sent to well-researched targets while impersonating someone the target knows and trusts.
Ransomware is a form of malware that works by encrypting the victim’s files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim for letting the victim have access to the data again. This type of attack can lead to serious incidents like locking down the municipal government data of the entire city of Atlanta in 2018.
‘Man in the Middle’ (MitM) attack
In this type of attack, the attacker intercepts the communications between the sender and the receiver either to secretly gain information or to modify the data transferred between the two. A MitM attack is commonly used in the military to create confusion among the enemy party.
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An email bombing attack is carried out through sending a large number of emails to a specific email address in order to flood the receiver’s inbox. Due to this, if a person was to receive some important message, he will be prevented from doing so. It may also happen that he may miss out on some important emails. Not only this, it can also hide an actual malicious email in the flood of everything else hitting the email server, making it more likely to be deployed.
Denial of Service (DoS) attack
Denial of service is an attack that aims at blocking authentic users from using internet services. It is done by flooding the network with thousands of invalid authentication requests, thus bringing the whole server down and as a result, the users are denied internet services.
A data breach is an incident in which confidential or protected data gets disclosed in an unauthorized manner. The most common data breaches include exposure of personal information such as credit card numbers or health-related information. Data breaches are brought about due to weak passwords, missing software parts or lost laptops or mobile phones.
Attacks on IoT Devices
In the attacks on IoT devices, the hackers take over a device in order to execute the Direct denial of Service (DDoS) attack. They also gain unauthorized access to the data flowing through the device.
What are the sources of these cyber threats?
Cyber threats come from diverse types of people and places. There are people who use their own software tools to carry out cyber-attacks. Many criminal organizations, which operate in large groups execute these attacks. Also, a number of terrorists, nation-states, spies and business competitors are prime sources of these attacks. Nation-states make use of cybercrime in order to learn other countries’ national secrets.
How do individuals protect their business from cybercrime?
The best defense mechanism from cybercrime includes running basic countermeasures like patching systems. For instance, when Microsoft discovers that a hacker can access their Windows server, the company will release a patch and circulate it among all owners of the Windows server. This operation needs to be carried out regularly on a timely basis to avoid cyber-attacks.
How do individuals protect themselves from cyber-attacks?
In most of the cases, some very effective security organizations like AT&T or SecOps are already working in order to protect individuals from the malicious intentions of the hackers. Still, some more security measures should be taken to make sure that your information is secure. Infact, stats suggest that worldwide spending on cybersecurity will reach $133.7 Billion by 2022!
The use of strong passwords can help you protect from these attackers. Even security organizations cannot protect your system if you use predictable passwords like ‘1234’. Having a strong anti-virus software in your device is a must. Also, you need to ensure that your system is kept updated by undergoing the scheduled scans.
Be aware of the phishing attacks and stay cautious while opening file attachments and links. Phishing emails are tough to identify as they look almost real but if you pay attention, you can identify the e-mails with malicious objectives.