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Guarding Against Cyber Threats: 5 Common Attacks to Be Cautious Of

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Cyber Essentials
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In today’s digital age, cyberattacks are a constant threat that cannot always be predicted or completely averted. However, being informed and adept at recognising such attacks can prove invaluable in safeguarding your valuable data. Astonishingly, statistics reveal that a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds, with 43% of these attacks targeting small businesses, incurring billions in losses.

Here are five common cyberattacks to remain vigilant against:

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack

A DoS attack is engineered to disrupt a machine or network, rendering it inaccessible to its intended users. Achieved through the inundation of the target with excessive traffic or by sending data that triggers a system crash, the DoS attack effectively deprives legitimate users of the service or resource they rely on. While a DoS attack may not directly access critical data, it can serve as a smokescreen to divert attention from other attack vectors. Overwhelming a company’s primary system may expose other latent vulnerabilities. This type of attack is often employed by protestors to disrupt services or by competitors to divert visitors from your website, potentially causing critical damage.

Signs of a DoS attack include:

  • Sluggish network performance, such as extended load times for files or websites.
  • The inability to access specific websites, including your own web properties.
  • Sudden loss of connectivity across devices on the same network.

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attack

In a traditional MitM attack, cybercriminals position themselves between two endpoints of data transmission, intercepting the flow of information. To execute this attack, perpetrators must gain access to an unsecured or inadequately secured Wi-Fi router. Such vulnerable connections are often encountered in public places offering free Wi-Fi hotspots, where attackers scan routers for potential weaknesses, such as weak passwords.

Once they identify a vulnerable router, attackers can deploy tools to intercept and read data transmitted by the victim. They can also insert their tools between the victim’s computer and the websites they visit, capturing login credentials, banking information, and other personal data.

SQL Injection Attack:

An SQL (Structured Query Language) injection, or SQLI, is a prevalent attack vector that employs malicious SQL code to manipulate backend databases, granting access to confidential information. The consequences can range from unauthorised access to user lists to the exposure of sensitive company data and private customer details.

SQL injection attacks can also include unauthorised viewing of user lists and, in extreme cases, the acquisition of administrative rights to a database, all of which can inflict significant harm on an organisation.

Phishing and Spear Phishing Attacks:

Phishing is an attack strategy commonly employed to pilfer user data, including login credentials and credit card numbers. Attackers impersonate trusted entities, convincing victims to open emails, instant messages, or text messages. Once engaged, the recipient is lured into clicking malicious links, leading to malware installation, system freezing through ransomware attacks, or the revelation of sensitive information.

Email phishing operates on a volume basis. Attackers dispatch thousands of fraudulent messages, reaping substantial information and financial gains, even if only a small fraction of recipients fall prey to the scam. Crafting phishing messages meticulously to mirror authentic emails from spoofed organizations, attackers employ identical phrasing, typefaces, logos, and signatures, rendering the messages indistinguishable from legitimate correspondence. Furthermore, attackers often apply pressure tactics, creating a sense of urgency to encourage hasty actions by recipients.

Typical Phishing Scams 

  • Emails threatening account deactivation and urging password resets.
  • Requests for personal information, such as banking details.
  • Downloadable attachments concealing malicious malware.
  • Emails posing as your bank or colleagues, often originating from public accounts such as Gmail rather than official company domains.
  • Links to URLs riddled with misspellings and errors.

Malware & Ransomware Attacks:

An abbreviation for “malicious software,” Malware comprises computer programs designed to infiltrate and harm computers without user consent.  The software takes various forms, including viruses, worms, trojan horses, and more. Initially conceived as pranks in the early 1980s, malicious software rapidly evolved as the internet became a pervasive tool for business. This shift led virus writers and hackers to turn their attention toward criminal activities, with ransomware emerging as a prominent example.

“Ransomware” typically arrives via phishing scams or aggressive exploits of security vulnerabilities. Once it seizes control of your computer, ransomware threatens to harm you by denying access to your data. Victims are then extorted for a ransom, which, if paid, theoretically prompts the attacker to restore access. However, there is no guarantee of data recovery in all cases. One of the most infamous ransomware attacks in recent memory was the WannaCry incident in 2017, which affected organisations worldwide. Today, experts believe that the volume of malicious software being released online may surpass the release of legitimate software. Malware utilises various delivery mechanisms, with the most common including:

Trojan Horse: A deceptive program that disguises itself as something harmless, such as a game or a useful application, relying on users to download and run it on their systems.

Virus: A self-propagating form of malware that infects other programs and files by injecting its code. Viruses infiltrate and spread across a target’s software/data, including the operating system in severe cases.

Worm: A type of malware that independently replicates across computers without human interaction, spreading via software vulnerabilities or attachments in spam emails or instant messages.

In conclusion, staying vigilant and informed about these common cyberattacks is essential in today’s digital landscape. By being aware of the threats and adopting proactive security measures, you can better protect your valuable data and mitigate the risks associated with cybercrime.