Cybercrime is running rampant. With evolving technology comes more opportunity for cybercriminals to weasel their way into the networks and systems of all kinds of organizations. And there has been a 300% increase in cyberattacks since the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a cyberattack occurs approximately once every 39 seconds.
Arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible about cyberattacks will help you better understand what they are, where they come from, and how to defend against them. This is the first in a series of articles that will explore cyberattacks in general, then do a deep dive into the most common types of cyberattacks. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what a cyberattack is.
What Is a Cyberattack?
A cyberattack is an unauthorized access to a network, system, or device to steal, modify, disable, or destroy digital assets such as data and applications. Cyberattacks can be targeted at individuals, but more often, they are targeted toward organizations, such as government agencies and businesses, causing incredible damage. IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023 states that the cost of a data breach has increased 15% since 2020, with a global average of $4.45 million US.
The Who and Why Behind Cyberattacks
There are two broad types of threats when it comes to cyberattacks:
- Outsider threats – These are people from outside your organization, such as criminal organizations, hacktivists, and professional hackers, who don’t have authorization to access your network or systems and break their way in.
- Insider threats – These are people, such as employees, business partners, and clients, who have authorized access to some or all of your network and systems and accidentally or intentionally abuse their privileges to cause harm to the organization.
Outsider threats to your company are typically either criminally motivated or politically motivated. Criminal attackers aim to disrupt business operations or steal data or money. Political attacks are usually part of cyberterrorism, cyberwarfare, or hacktivism.
Insider threats also have the goal of theft or disrupting business operations, but the reason is personal. They are generally current or former employees seeking retaliation for a perceived transgression.
How a Cyberattack Can Affect Your Business
When a cyberattack is launched on a business, it can have a monumental effect on many aspects of that business. Targets of an attack are typically one or more of the following:
- Sensitive customer or employee data
- Company financial data
- Lists of clients
- Login credentials and email addresses
- Intellectual property
A cyberattack can result in:
- Financial damages – This can come from paying a ransom, losing money through theft, paying to clean up the damage caused by the attack, and/or losing business.
- Reputational damages – This can result in a loss of trust customers and business partners have in the organization, potentially resulting in a loss of business.
- Legal damages – If the breach is the result of inadequate cybersecurity or if the company is sued by victims of the breach, they can face fines and legal costs.
Types of Cyberattacks
There are numerous types of cyberattacks that can be directed at your company. However, a handful of these are more common and should be on your cybersecurity radar.
Malware is malicious software that is used to infiltrate and cause harm to a device, network, or system. Types of malware include:
- Fileless malware
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
A DoS attack is designed to inundate a server with false requests. This causes it to slow down to the point that it becomes difficult for users to perform routine tasks, disrupting business operations.
An identity-based attack occurs when the attacker steals the credentials of a user and gains access to networks and systems as that user. This makes this attack hard to detect. Types of identity-based attacks include:
- Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack
- Pass-the-Hash attack
- Silver Ticket attack
- Credential Stuffing
- Brute Force attack
- Password Spraying
Spoofing is another type of attack that is difficult to detect. The attacker will disguise themselves as a trusted source, possibly someone the victim knows. This allows the attacker to engage directly with the victim to access systems or steal money or sensitive information. Types of spoofing include:
- Email spoofing
- Domain spoofing
- ARP spoofing
In addition to the above, Social Engineering attacks are very common. These involve psychologically manipulating the victim into revealing sensitive information or credentials. The most common type of Social Engineering is known as Phishing, making it important to know how to prevent a Phishing attack.
How to Prevent a Cyberattack
There is no way to 100% guarantee you won’t fall victim to a cyberattack. However, there are cybersecurity practices you can implement to minimize the risk, such as:
- Educating your employees
- Ensuring your software and hardware are up-to-date
- Having a strong password policy
- Ensuring mobile device security
- Using antivirus and antimalware software
If you become the victim of a cyberattack, you can take several steps to reduce the impact of the breach, including containing the breach and assessing and repairing the damage.
Unfortunately, cyberattacks are a part of the business landscape. But knowing what the threats are and how to deal with them will help protect your company from the malicious actors out there who threaten your cybersecurity.
Contact Platinum Technologies today to find out more about cyberattacks and how we can help you improve your cybersecurity.