October 28, 2021

Top 10 Most Common Cyberattacks

What Exactly is a Cyberattack?

In the modern era, cyberattacks are a common and real threat to an organization. Every single day, businesses are attacked by cybercriminals. A cyberattack can be detrimental to its daily operations, financials, personal information, and data security.

According to Cisco, a cyberattack “is a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization.” A cyberattacker usually aims to receive some type of benefit from disrupting the victim’s organization or network, sometimes in the form of a ransom — 53 percent of cyberattacks caused damages valued $500,000 and even as high as $945 billion in losses.

The Top Ten Most Common Cyberattacks

Here are the top ten cyberattacks identified.

  1. Malware. Malware, or “malicious software,” is intrusive software designed to access computers and systems to destroy them. Examples of malware are viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware. Malware-blocking software would detect the attack and block it automatically. As the name suggests, ransomware is a type of malware and continues to be the most significant threat to cybersecurity. A type of malware, a ransomware attack uses a pair of keys to encrypt important files. The attacker will only provide the key to the victim after demands have been met.

    A step further is cyber extortion, which has been a double threat on the rise for many CPA firms. Hackers use ransomware to hold sensitive data “hostage” in exchange for some sort of demand, such as money. If they don’t get what they want, cybercriminals threaten to publish the data.

    Ransomware 2.0 has gotten more clever by interacting with humans directly, such as through a CAPTCHA test to lure an unwitting target to identify themselves as an actual human. The human target enables cyberattackers to use certain tactics that will not be thwarted by an automated mechanism. While a data breach costs CPA firms significant amounts of money, the reputational loss for being unprepared for cyber breaches can be much worse.
  2. Phishing Schemes. In general, phishing involves emails that appear to be from a reputable source in order to trick the recipient into entering passwords and credit card information, or other sensitive data. Phishing is a tried-and-true method for cybercriminals to hack into companies. In particular, spear phishing is a go-to method for cybercriminals. Spear phishing occurs when a threat actor designs and implements a phishing attack specifically targeting a group of people, often accountants or C-suite executives, who are often very familiar with the organization’s day-to-day operations and/or have access to sensitive information. Whaling is a type of spear phishing that hunts large, public, high-profile targets — C-suite executives in particular.
  3. Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attack. This cyberattack occurs when a cybercriminal utilizes methods to intercept communications between two parties, often a trusted client and the network server, to spy upon their victims or steal sensitive information. The MITM attacks are becoming less frequent because more email and chat systems use end-to-end encryption to stop third parties from tampering with the communications, whether the network is secured or not.
  4. DDoS Attack. A distributed-denial-of-service attack (DDoS) attack is a type of cyberattack that was specifically designed to flood the network with superfluous traffic causing an outright service outage or a degraded network performance. A DDoS attack uses multiple connected devices to disrupt the network or make it unavailable. Often, a botnet (aka “zombie army”) is used to overwhelm systems in a DDoS attack. The cyberattacker uses a botnet to inject malware to hijack internet-connected devices that they can then control from a remote location without the organization or owner knowing.
  5. SQL Injection Attack. Standing for “standard query language,” an SQL attack occurs when a cybercriminal injects malicious code to get the SQL-based server to divulge key information usually through a website’s search box or comment form. Many websites rely upon SQL databases to manage and store their data. A cyberattacker may be able to exploit the corrupted HTML to read, modify, delete, or create data stored in the SQL database. If an organization’s server stores sensitive customer information, then it can result in a data breach of a client’s credit information, social security numbers, etc.
  6. Drive-By Attack. Also known as a “drive-by-download” attack, this type of cyberattack occurs when the victim visits a website that then infects their computer with malware. The website can be controlled by the attacker directly or one that has been corrupted by the cyberattacker.
  7. Zero-Day Exploit. A zero-day exploit attacks a network where there is a vulnerability identified and before a patch can be installed or a solution implemented. Cyberattackers will target this time window when the network or software application or operating systems are at their most vulnerable to exploit it before the fix can be installed.
  8. Password Attack. This kind of cyberattack is exactly what the name suggests — the attacker tries to guess or crack the password of an unsuspecting victim. Also referred to as a credential ruse, the attacker relies upon the victim using the same type of password across different websites and accounts. The types of password attacks include the Brute-Force attack, Dictionary attack, Rainbow Table attack, Credential Stuffing, Password Spraying, and the Keylogger attack, as well as phishing attempts as explained earlier.
  9. Eavesdropping Attack. Sometimes referred to as “sniffling” or “snooping,” this type of attack is one of the main reasons employees in an organization are asked to use VPNs when accessing unsecured public Wifi. The cyberattacker uses unsecured networks to intercept communications and access data that is being transmitted by computer, smartphone, or another internet-connected device. The cybercriminals are after sensitive information such as financials, trade secrets, or personal information that can be sold or ransomed. This type of cyberattack is also used to spy on people’s smartphones by tracking their smartphone use, also known as “spouseware.”
  10. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack. The XSS attack uses third-party web resources to inject malicious scripts into websites. A cyberattacker uses a web application to send malicious code, usually in the form of a script, to an unsuspecting user. The web application, which can be a normal web page, uses input from a user and then generates the output without validating or encoding it. The end user’s browser often has no way to detect the infiltration of the malicious code that basically rewrites the web application’s HTML.

How to Prevent Cyberattacks

As these types of cyberattacks increase in frequency and sophistication, an organization may be wondering how it can help its employees prevent cyberattacks. First, organizations can be proactive. As discussed in previous blogs, training employees on how to identify phishing scams is an effective way to prevent attacks. Consistently check to see if passwords have been involved in a breaching incident — if an employee’s organizational or personal email is listed in the breach, they should act immediately. Also, organizations should review security settings in routinely used software, such as Microsoft 365, to make sure the settings are helping prevent attacks and are continuously updated with the latest fixes, which often contain security measures. Finally, organizations should set up two-factor authentication for their accounts. This method makes it much more difficult for a cyberattacker to gain access to an email account or server through a smartphone or computer.

Fortunately, Cetrom provides cloud-based solutions to help organizations prevent cyberattackers from infiltrating a network or system, particularly with their Microsoft 365 hosting platform paired with the latest AI security technologies. This innovative and secure cloud-based platform is in addition to the 24/7 help that is available for clients as well as a dedicated senior-level team of engineers to monitor and mitigate cyber threats.

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