Cyber attack is the most common medium for theft that trained IT criminals are utilizing these days. Such attacks, which range from stealing individual or corporate data to creating multimillion-dollar scams, are reported with increasing frequency. Professional cyber thieves either secretly assume control of the user’s system or steal away the user’s credentials. These cyber criminals have mastered loopholes and the creation of action-prompting triggers that let them make the user act according to their needs. Often, users are totally unaware of the common ways cyber attackers target them and their devices. Let’s take a look at the seven most common ways an attacker makes his way into a third-party system.
Malware: Generally, during surfing or downloading, a pop-up appears on the screen. Often when users mistakenly or consciously click on this pop-up, they inadvertently allow malware to gain a foothold on their system or device. This malware is harmful software, generally a virus or a ransomware that is capable of taking control of the device; it can monitor the user’s actions, follow keystrokes, and secretly report back to the attacker with all the secret information on the device. However, malware cannot be directly planted in the system unless a call to action is undertaken by the user. Thus, attackers prompt users to click on the malware by using anything from a survey to a lucky spin, from the latest news to pornographic content. Once the bait has been taken, the attacker gains control.
Phishing: This is a process whereby an attacker usually tries to lure information out of the user through the medium of emails and personal contact. In this form of attack, users (both individuals and organizations) receive emails that appear to be from someone they trust; say their boss, the organization they work for, a big brand name, some government body, their bank, etc. Such emails could be legitimate and ask for quick action so that the user has little time to think it over. The notice may also contain a link or an attachment, which when clicked or downloaded allows the malware to sit in the system. This malware would thus take over the system, along with its data and activities.
Similar Credentials: Users commonly reuse the same passwords across multiple accounts for ease of recall. Although it is advisable to set up a unique password for each website, platform, or account, this simple precaution is often neglected. Hackers rely on this incaution, and once they get their hands on personal information, they try to cash out the possibilities of matching the same login credential across different platforms and sites. It is thus recommended to use a password manager and allot different passwords to different accounts. While attackers continually evolve ever more sophisticated techniques and methods, we can protect ourselves from being baited by constantly improving our own defenses.
SQL Injection Attack: SQL, or structured query language, is a programming language used to communicate with databases. A number of servers that store critical website data and services make use of SQL to manage the databases. When an attacker uses an SQL injection attack, it attacks a server with the help of a malicious code to divulge information that otherwise could not have been gained. The threat of the attack can be calculated differently in different cases, depending upon the sensitivity and type of information stored in the server. If such an attack is successful, an attacker may gain access to the website’s search box and then type in the code to force the site to reveal all the stored databases, usernames, or passwords stored for the site.
Cross-Site Scripting Attack: Unlike an SQL injection attack, where the attacker is targeting a vulnerable website to gain access to its stored data, a cross-site scripting attack may directly target a website’s user. Both types of attack involve injecting a malicious code into a website, but here it isn’t the website that is attacked. Such codes are generally injected in comments and scripts from where they automatically run. These attacks damage a website’s reputation by putting the user’s information at risk of being stolen or misused.
Denial of Service Attack: Also known as DoS, this kind of attack lets attackers gain access to website information during times when the website is experiencing much more traffic than it can handle. Such attacks may even be initiated by hackers creating heavy traffic to a desired website and shutting it down for users. Attacks may be launched from around the world, using different IPs, to hide the attackers’ true location.
Session ID Hijacking: Also called the man-in-the-middle attack, this attack happens during ongoing Internet activity, when the attacker gains access to the unique session ID of the user (an ID that allows communication between the computer and the unique web server). In such interceptions, the attacker steps into the session between the remote computer and server and gains access to the information being shared.