What is a cyber-attack?
Cyber-attacks are attacks against networks and data infrastructure, orchestrated by individuals or groups who are commonly referred to as hackers. They gain unauthorized access and manipulate or steal the data in these compromised devices. They leverage the weak points in the system to gain access to the network and data they need.
In an untargeted attack, hackers try to gain access to as many devices as they could without being detected by the victim’s defence mechanisms. Phishing attacks are an example of untargeted attacks where many unsuspecting users are sent messages which are crafted in a way to lure them into clicking the link with the malware.
Targeted attacks are aimed at websites and organizations and the method of attack varies with the organization.
What are the possible reasons behind cyberattacks?
Financial reasons: Some cyber-attacks involve financial motives where data such as credit card information or employee credentials are stolen to impersonate the victim and steal money. Another kind of financially motivated cyber-attacks involves keeping the data/network a hostage and demanding ransom.
Disruption: Some cyber-attacks are aimed at tarnishing the reputation of an organization by disrupting the network and operations. Such kinds of attacks are conducted by “hacktivists” who see these attacks as protests the attacked organization.
Cyber warfare: Cyber-attacks can also happen as a part of a dispute between countries. These attacks are authorized or even conducted by Governments and there have been many countries in the past that were accused of cyberwarfare. With the increase in dependency on IT infrastructure for operations, the number of cyber-attacks as a part of warfare could increase drastically in the future.
What are the various kinds of cyber-attacks?
Malware: Malware breaks into a network by using its weaknesses. Malware hampers the functioning of a system. Viruses, worms, and spyware are examples of malware.
SQL Injection: It is the injection of malicious code to the server for gaining access to sensitive information
Man in the middle attack: When a hacker gains access to transactions between two entities allowing him to access manipulate and steal sensitive data.
Denial of service attack: when a server is bombarded with many data requests in a brief period, rendering in incapable of processing the necessary ones.
Zero-day Exploit: Hackers use newly detected cracks in the network’s security systems before gets resolved via a new patch.
DNS (Domain Name System) Tunnelling: Involves setting up and leveraging constantly available access (tunnels) to desired systems and information.
Phishing: Socially appealing emails, which carry malware as a link or attachment.
How could cyber-attacks be prevented?
Cultural shift: The employees should be trained to enforce the best practices in network security.
Multi-factor authentication: multi-factor authentication reduces risk by introducing multiple levels of security by collecting information such as biometrics above the usual password and login id’s
Robust internal controls: Regulating access improves security as people would get access only to the information that is necessary for carrying out their operation.
Creating backups: backing up data is crucial when it comes to damage limitation as recreating a vast amount of data costs a lot of time money and expertise.
Keeping the system updated: Updating systems regularly reduces loopholes and enhances security.
Using antivirus and firewall: Antivirus or firewalls keep the attacks from affecting critical networks and data.