Hackers target anything connected to a network, including laptops, desktop computers, mobile devices, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. They use social engineering tactics to slip malware into your system or trick you into handing over sensitive data and money.
A DDoS attack aims to flood a server with so much traffic that it can’t respond to legitimate requests. Cybercriminals often launch these attacks for financial gain.
Phishing attacks are counterfeit communications masquerading as legitimate business or individual messages, such as emails, social media posts, or even company systems. These fake communications lure targeted victims into revealing sensitive information or downloading malware, like ransomware. Attackers can use phishing to steal personal and account credentials, obtain permissions to compromise connected systems, such as point-of-sale terminals or order processing software, and even hijack entire network infrastructures until they receive a ransom payment.
So, what is cybersecurity threats? These threats attract hackers posed as the CEO and requested a transfer of funds. They even replicated his writing style to make it appear more convincing. Other types of phishing include whaling, where attackers impersonate senior executives to trick employees into sending money, and spear phishing, which leverages compromised suppliers or vendors. Attackers can also employ smishing, sending text messages to victims that link them to malicious sites that download data-stealing apps or enable nefarious actors to control their devices remotely.
Malware describes a wide range of computer programs that cybercriminals use to damage or disrupt a device. They usually infect systems through phishing emails, system or software vulnerabilities, infected USB flash drives, and malicious websites. Once they gain access, attackers capitalize on the infection by stealing account credentials, collecting personal information for sale, selling access to computing resources, or extorting payment from victims.
Different types of malware are spread in unique ways. Viruses replicate and apply by inserting their code into other files, while worms leverage flaws in software to infect devices without the user’s input. Trojan horses masquerade as legitimate programs to trick users into installing them. Fileless malware exploits bugs and software vulnerabilities and hides in build or update mechanisms to avoid detection. Polymorphic malware changes its appearance regularly to evade detection.
Keeping antivirus solutions up to date and deploying system and software updates as soon as they’re available will help minimize the impact of malware attacks. Individuals and businesses should also have a plan for what to do if a device is hit by malware so they can respond quickly and efficiently.
The man-in-the-middle attack (MITM) allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications between two parties that believe they are communicating directly. Using this technique, criminals can relay and alter communication, including HTTPS connections to websites, other SSL/TLS connections, and Wi-Fi network connections.
For example, when you communicate with a colleague on a messaging platform, a cybercriminal can intercept your conversation to spoof the colleague’s email address to get them to send over login credentials or other personal information. This is one of the main reasons why it is essential only to use websites that start with ‘HTTPS’ rather than just ‘HTTP.’
MITM attacks can be used as an initial gateway into an organization to mine data and run long-term advanced persistent threat (APT) campaigns against the company’s IT infrastructure and services. It can also damage a company’s brand reputation and result in operational slowdowns to mitigate or respond to the attack.
The loss of customer trust and potential financial losses from the theft or misuse of personal information is a significant concern for many businesses. Stolen health and financial data are sold for a few dollars per record on the Dark Web, so it’s not surprising that companies want to ensure they are protected against these threats.
While regular denial-of-service attacks leverage single Internet connections to exploit software vulnerabilities, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks leverage many compromised devices (also called “zombies”) that are spread across the network and flooded with fake traffic. This saturates available Internet bandwidth, RAM, and CPU capacity until the target system crashes or can no longer process requests, thus knocking a website or service offline.
These hacked devices—everything from PCs and smartphones to unsecured IoT devices like CCTV cameras and drones—are harvested by cybercriminals through phishing, malware, and malvertising attacks and recruited into large armies known as botnets. The bots lie dormant until instructed by a centralized command and control server, and they then use a portion of their processing power to flood the targeted server or website with fake traffic.
Different DDoS attacks include volume-based attacks and protocol-layer attacks, such as SYN floods. For example, SYN flood attacks work like a high school class prank, calling pizza delivery simultaneously—but hundreds or thousands of students are trying to order their pizzas simultaneously instead of one or two calls overwhelming the delivery person and resulting in no deliveries.
Cybercriminals are masters at technology but use social engineering techniques to coerce victims into performing unauthorized actions. These types of attacks account for 98% of cyberattacks. For example, a cybercriminal can impersonate an IT professional and request your login information to patch a security flaw. If you do this, you’ve just handed a criminal your credentials without knowing it. This is called phishing. Another form of phishing is DNS spoofing, which reroutes online users to malicious websites that can collect their sensitive data. Other social engineering attacks include baiting (e.g., leaving a USB stick loaded with malware in a public place) and quid pro quo attacks (e.g., calling random extensions at a company pretending to be responding to a tech support ticket).
Email is a common platform for these attacks, as the entire workforce and non-IT staff use it. Always exercise caution when opening attachments from unknown sources, and never enter your credentials into any website directly linked to an email.