Cyber Attack: Definition, Detection, and Prevention
A cyber attack is any strategy to obtain unauthorized access, to a computing system, or network node with the intention of causing serious harm. Cyber attacks attempt to disable, interrupt, disturb, or take control of computers, as well as modify, restrict, delete, alter, or steal data stored on them.
Any individual or organization may conduct a cyber-attack from anywhere using one or more attack methods. Cybercriminals are those who carry out cyber attacks. Individuals that act alone, depending on their computer abilities to create and execute destructive attacks, are known as bad actors, threat actors, and hackers. Cyber attacks are also carried out by government-sponsored teams of computer professionals. They're known as nation-state hackers, and they have been accused of attacking the information technology (IT) infrastructures of other governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, such as corporations, charities, and utilities.
Cyber attacks are carried out for a variety of purposes, ranging from financial gain and corporate intelligence to digital war and political benefit.
- People undertake cyber attacks for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is financial gain. Cyber attacks are relatively inexpensive to develop, execute, and deploy, yet can reap enormous profits.
- Business intelligence: Some cyber attacks are more company-oriented, with attackers utilizing phishing to obtain user credentials, enter business networks, and get access to critical business data.
- State-sponsored cyberattacks: Cyber attacks are also carried out for political objectives, and many of them have been linked to nation-state hackers.
- Other cyber attacks, often known as hacktivism, are conducted to increase political awareness. Famous hacktivists like Anonymous and WikiLeaks conduct attacks on governments and huge corporations to raise awareness about different political concerns, internet legislation and restrictions, and state control.
- White-hat hackers: For the fun of it or the intellectual challenge of getting illegal access to a network, a hacker may conduct a cyber attack.
- Personal motivations: Some cyber attacks are carried out by dissatisfied or former workers for personal reasons.
- Easiness of access to data: Data is freely available and easy to steal and profit from, which is one of the main reasons why hackers carry out cyber attacks.
Cybercriminals utilize sophisticated tools to launch attacks against businesses in today's linked digital ecosystem. Personal computers, computer networks, IT infrastructure, and IT systems are among the targets of their attacks. The following are some examples of common cyberattacks:
- Backdoor Trojan
- XSS (cross-site scripting) attack
- Denial-of-service (DoS)
- DNS tunneling
- Phishing and social engineering attacks,
- Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks
- Injection of SQL
- Zero-day exploit
- Fileless Attacks, etc.
Here are a few examples of cyber attacks that had a global impact. Kaseya Ransomware Attack, SolarWinds Supply Chain Attack, Amazon DDoS Attack, Microsoft Exchange Remote Code Execution Attack, Twitter Celebrity Attack.
To combat the evolving security concerns that all firms confront, having a well-defined cybersecurity plan is becoming increasingly essential. Because the majority of attacks are triggered by human mistakes, the plan must include strong IT security measures, a strategy for developing risks, and staff education programs. By checking for symptoms of a cyber attack, you can become a part of the detection process:
- Identify strange emails
- Keep an eye out for odd passwords, behavior, and strange pop-ups.
- Report a network that is slower than usual.
- Updating software
What is a Cyber Attack?
The process of attempting to steal data or gain unauthorized access to computers and networks using one or more computers is referred to as a cyber attack. Before committing a data breach, an attacker would frequently launch a cyber attack to acquire unauthorized access to individual or company systems or networks.
A cyber attack's purpose is to either destroy and take offline the target computer or obtain access to the machine's data and enter associated networks and systems. Cyber thieves undertake both random and targeted cyberattacks on organizations, demonstrating a wide range of competence in their efforts. To launch a cyber attack, attackers use a variety of techniques, including denial of service, malware, phishing, and ransomware.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines the term "cyberattack" as
"an attack, via cyberspace, targeting an enterprise's use of cyberspace to disrupt, disable, destroying, or maliciously controlling a computing environment/infrastructure; or destroying the integrity of the data or stealing controlled information."
The worldwide cost of cyber attacks is predicted to increase by 15% every year, reaching more than $10 trillion by 2025. Ransomware attacks, which currently cost businesses in the United States $20 billion per year, are becoming a larger percentage of this cost. In the United States, the average cost of a data breach is $3.8 million. Another disturbing figure is that following a successful breach, public businesses lose an average of 8% of their market value.
How Does Cyber Attack Work?
Threat actors utilize a variety of ways to launch cyber attacks, depending on whether they're going for a targeted or untargeted victim.
When bad actors attempt to get into as many systems and devices as possible in an untargeted attack, they hunt for vulnerabilities that will allow them to obtain access without being recognized or stopped. They may employ a phishing attack, for example, by emailing a large number of individuals with socially engineered messages designed to persuade them to click a link that will download harmful code.
Cyber attacks frequently take place in phases, with hackers first surveying or scanning for weaknesses or entry points, then launching the first breach, and then carrying out the whole attack whether it's stealing important data, crippling computer systems, or both.
Cybercriminals target a specific entity in a targeted attack, and the tactics utilized vary depending on the attack's goals. After a Black man died while being apprehended by Minneapolis police officers in 2020, the hacktivist organization Anonymous was accused of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the Minneapolis Police Department website. In a targeted attack, hackers write emails to specific individuals who, if they click embedded links, download malicious software meant to undermine the organization's infrastructure or the sensitive data it contains.
Cybercriminals routinely build and release the software tools they employ in their operations on the so-called dark web.
What are the Types of Cyber Attacks?
To obtain illegal access to computers, data, and networks and steal sensitive information, attackers usually employ a variety of tactics and strategies. Below is a list and explanation of some of the most popular types of cyber attacks.
- Malware: Malware is a type of malicious software that is meant to harm computers, networks, and servers. Malware comes in many forms, including Trojans, viruses, and worms, and all of them reproduce and disperse via a computer or network. This allows the hacker to get deeper access into the target network, allowing them to steal data, damage devices, deactivate networks or take control of systems.
- Fileless Attacks: Fileless attacks are a different sort of malware that makes use of existing programs on a user's device. Unlike traditional malware, which requires a target system to be infected, fileless malware attacks rely on previously installed apps that are considered secure, making them undetected by regular antivirus software. By exploiting operating system vulnerabilities, fileless malware attacks can be started by user-initiated activities or without any user input. Fileless malware lives in the device's RAM and injects malicious code using native operating system capabilities such as PowerShell and Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI). A privileged system's trusted program may perform system activities on numerous endpoints, making it a suitable target for fileless malware attacks.
- Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks: A phishing attack convinces a victim to download malware or provide sensitive information on counterfeit websites. The attacker creates communications that seem real and may appear to be from a trustworthy sender in order to conduct these cyber attack tactics via email. They will, however, contain malware in the form of an attachment or a malicious URL that directs the receiver to a phishing website that requests their login credentials or financial information. Some phishing attempts are broad in scope in order to catch as many people as possible, while others are highly targeted and well studied in order to steal information from valuable persons. Phishing is no longer restricted to email, as mobile device attacks are growing more widespread. Social engineering is an attack vector that depends mainly on human interaction, used in over 90% of cyberattacks. It includes impersonating a trustworthy person or organization and duping others into revealing sensitive information, transferring money, or gaining access to systems or networks to an attacker. Phishing emails, scareware, quid pro quo, and other tactics used in social engineering attacks contain, but are not restricted to, phishing emails, scareware, and other strategies that exploit human psychology to achieve certain aims.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious attack that is funded by money. Attackers send emails with a malicious attachment that, if downloaded, locks specific data and files, as well as whole machines. The attacker will then demand a ransom payment from the victim, and only then will the data be released or restored. In 2021, ransomware assaults caused $20 billion in damages; by 2031, the yearly cost will reach $265 billion.
- Denial of Service (DoS) - Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS): A denial-of-service (DoS) attack, also known as a brute-force attack, is used to disrupt internet services. It's usually triggered by an attacker flooding a website with a large volume of traffic or requests in an attempt to overload the site's infrastructure and bring it down. A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is a more sophisticated DoS attack in which an attacker takes control of numerous computers to overload its target.
- Man in The Middle (MITM): MITM attacks allow a malicious actor to place themselves in the middle of a user's interaction with an online service. An attacker may do this by setting up a faked, free-to-use Wi-Fi network. When a user connects to or logs in to a network, the attacker has the chance to steal the user's login credentials and data.
- SQL ?njection: SQL injection is a technique used by attackers to find flaws and gain control of a database. SQL is used by many websites and online apps to store data and communicate user data with databases. An attacker can use SQL injection to uncover user credentials and launch a cyber attack if they find a hole in a webpage. They may be able to change and add data to databases, delete information, transfer funds, and even attack internal networks in some situations.
- Zero-day Exploits: Zero-day attacks are intended security flaws in software code that enterprises have not yet noticed, and as a consequence, have not been able to patch or fix. When an attacker discovers a code flaw, they construct an exploit that allows them to get access to a company before it recognizes there is an issue. They can then collect data, steal user credentials, and increase their access privileges within a company. For months or even years, attackers can remain undetected in company systems. On the dark web, zero-day vulnerability attack techniques are widely available and are frequently purchased by government agencies for use in hacking.
- DNS Tunneling: DNS tunneling is a type of cyber attack that affects the Domain Name System (DNS), which is a system that converts web addresses into IP addresses. The DNS is largely trusted, and because it isn't used for data transfer, it's not often checked for harmful activity. As a result, it's a good place to conduct cyber attacks against networks. DNS tunneling is one such technique, which uses the DNS to tunnel harmful data and viruses. It starts with an attacker registering a domain with the name server pointing to the attacker's server, which is infected with tunneling malware. When an attacker has access to a computer, they are free to transmit DNS queries through their server, which creates a tunnel through which they may steal data and carry out other harmful activities.
- Backdoor Trojan: A backdoor Trojan infects the victim's system with a backdoor flaw, allowing the attacker to obtain remote, near-total control. The Trojan may be used for additional cybercrimes as well as connecting a group of victims' machines into a botnet or zombie network.
What are the Examples of Cyber Attacks?
Here are a few recent examples of cyberattacks with worldwide effects.
- Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine: Check Point Research (CPR) has released data on cyber attacks that have occurred as a result of the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine. Cyber attacks on Ukraine's government and military sector soared by 196 percent in the first three days of the fight. The number of cyber attacks on Russian companies has increased by 4%. Phishing emails in East Slavic languages increased sevenfold, with a third of those harmful phishing emails being delivered to Russian recipients from Ukrainian email addresses.
Kaseya Ransomware Attack: Kaseya, a remote management software supplier located in the United States, had a supply chain attack on July 2, 2021, which was made public. Attackers might utilize the business's VSA product to infect client devices with ransomware, according to the company. The attack was described as very clever, combining multiple new Kaseya vulnerabilities: CVE-2021-30116 (credentials leak and business logic problem), CVE-2021-30119 (XSS), and CVE-2021-30120 (XSS) (two-factor authentication(2FA) flaw). Customers were sent malware that exploited these flaws via a phony software update called "Kaseya VSA Agent Hot Fix". The cybercrime group REvil, located in Russia, was responsible for the attack. The compromise affected fewer than 0.1 percent of Kaseya's clients, however, some of them were managed service providers (MSPs) that used Kaseya software, and their customers were affected. According to press reports published shortly after the attack, the REvil ransomware impacted 800-1500 small to mid-sized businesses.
Microsoft Exchange Remote Code Execution Attack: A large-scale cyber attack was launched against Microsoft Exchange, a major corporate email system, in March 2021. It required exploiting four zero-day flaws in Microsoft Exchange servers. These flaws allow attackers to create untrusted URLs, utilize them to get access to an Exchange Server system and give malware with a direct server-side storage channel. It's a Remote Code Execution (RCE) attack, which allows hackers to take over a server and access all of its data. Attackers stole critical information, inserted ransomware, and installed backdoors on targeted systems in a virtually undetectable manner. The cyberattacks impacted nine government organizations and nearly 60,000 commercial enterprises in the United States alone.
- SolarWinds Supply Chain Attack: SolarWinds, an Austin-based IT management business, was the target of a huge, extremely inventive supply chain attack discovered in December 2020. APT 29, a well-organized cybercrime gang linked to the Russian government, was behind it. The exploit hacked into an upgrade for SolarWinds' Orion software platform. Threat actors implanted malware into Orion's updates during the attack, which became known as the Sunburst or Solorigate virus. Customers of SolarWinds were then sent the upgrades. As it effectively infringed the US army, many US-based federal agencies, including agencies responsible for nuclear weapons, vital infrastructure services, and a large percentage of Fortune 500 companies, the SolarWinds attack is considered one of the most significant cyber espionage attacks on the US.
- Twitter Celebrities Attack: Twitter was hacked by a gang of three attackers in July 2020, who seized control of major Twitter accounts. They employed social engineering tactics to obtain employee passwords and gain access to the company's internal management systems, which Twitter eventually labeled as vishing. Hundreds of well-known accounts, including Barack Obama's, Jeff Bezos', and Elon Musk's, were hacked. The attackers made over $100,000 by posting bitcoin scams using the stolen accounts. The US Justice Department accused three individuals, one of them was 17 years old at the time, two weeks after the events.
- DDoS Attack on Amazon: A large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was launched against Amazon Web Services (AWS) in February 2020. A 2.3 Tbps (terabits per second) DDoS attack was launched against the organization, with a packet forwarding rate of 293.1 Mpps and a request rate per second (rps) of 694,201. It is regarded as one of the most significant DDoS attacks in existence.
How Does an Organization Prepare for a Cyber Attack?
Despite the importance of cyber attacks, 99 percent of businesses are not adequately secured. A cyber attack, on the other hand, may be avoided. An end-to-end cyber security architecture that encompasses all networks, endpoint and mobile devices, and the cloud is critical to cyber defense. You may strengthen the management of many security layers and control policy through a single view with the correct architecture. This allows you to connect events from different network settings, cloud services, and mobile systems. The following critical strategies to avoid cyber attacks in addition to architecture:
- Preventive measures are preferable to detection.
- Maintain a clean security environment.
- All attack vectors should be covered.
- Use the most advanced technologies available.
- Maintain up-to-date threat intelligence.
What are the Statistics on Cyber Attacks?
As cyber attackers' more sophisticated strategies continue to disrupt enterprises, cybersecurity is becoming a rising issue for businesses and individuals. According to Gartner, firms spent more than $123 billion on security in 2020, with that amount expected to rise to $170.4 billion by 2022.
Hackers, on the other hand, continue to breach company data and systems with remarkable ease and frequency. Because businesses continue to lack cybersecurity knowledge and employ inadequate cybersecurity procedures, their data is left exposed and open to theft and breaches.
Operating distant workforces, the growing cybersecurity skills gap, and the rise of linked and Internet-of-Things (IoT) equipment that are particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks have all worsened the problem. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on cybersecurity. According to international law firm Reed Smith, online frauds increased by more than 400 percent in March 2020 compared to prior years, while Google said it was filtering more than 18 million malware and phishing emails relating to COVID-19 per day.
In 2021, the top five cyber crimes were: Extortion, Theft of one's identity, Breach of personal information, Non-payment and Phishing attacks. Cyber risk affects all industries and businesses, although some are more targeted and at risk than others. Among them, the financial industry stands out as having a lot of sensitive and valuable data for attackers to target, as well as a lot of chances for cybercriminals to benefit from their attacks.
According to IBM's Cost of a Data Breach Report for 2021, data breaches in the finance industry are the second most expensive behind those in the healthcare industry. According to Verizon's Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR), the financial industry will have the fifth most security incidents in 2021. The financial industry is a target for costly and devastating data breaches because it has access to valuable data that may be exploited in fraud and other hacks. Data breaches, however, are not the only threat that banks face. Ransomware attacks, phishing, and account takeover operations are all continual threats to banks. Data breaches, business disruptions, and costly recovery are all possible outcomes of these risks.
Cybersecurity knowledge is important for recognizing typical security mistakes that render firms vulnerable to attacks, such as leaving data exposed and using easy passwords. Users and corporate leaders should be aware of cybersecurity facts, and businesses should create training programs that instill knowledge, protection, and best practices into their organizations.
How to Detect Cyber Attacks?
To combat the ever-evolving security issues that all firms confront, having an effective cyber security plan is becoming increasingly crucial. Because the majority of attacks are generated by human mistakes, the plan must include robust IT security protocols, a strategy for developing risks, and staff education programs.
By keeping an eye out for these symptoms of a cyber attack, you may help with the detection process:
- Identify mysterious emails: Bad actors employ email phishing to get access to critical customer data by impersonating a trustworthy organization or website. Employees and individuals should follow safe email practices and be cautious when clicking on web links from unfamiliar sources or opening links or attachments. Users should never reply to such emails since doing so verifies the recipient's email address, thus exposing them to further cyberattacks.
- Keep an eye out for unusual password activity: If an employee gets blocked out of the system or receives an email claiming that their password has been changed without their knowledge, it is an indication that the password has been hacked. It's critical to create a strong password for email and the network and to change it every six months.
- Recognize any questionable pop-ups: Users should avoid even closing browser pop-up windows by clicking on them. Unknown pop-ups may include malware or spyware, putting the network at risk.
- Report a network that is slower than usual: During a hacking activity or a virus attack, network traffic typically increases, reducing internet speed. When individuals see significantly slower than typical network speeds, they should contact the IT security department.
- Make a point of your software is up to date: While human fault is generally the source of a network breach, keeping the It software environment up to date can help limit the risk of cyber attacks. This entails applying regular patches and updates, as well as securing all PCs, laptops, and mobile devices using the most up-to-date cybersecurity solutions. As a result, employees are safer and better able to recognize and identify when a possible security attack is underway.
How to Prevent Cyber Attacks?
There is no surefire method for any company to avoid a cyber attack, but there are a number of cybersecurity best practices that may help mitigate the risk.
Using a mix of qualified security experts, protocols, and technology to reduce the risk of a cyber attack is critical. Defensive action falls into three areas when it comes to risk reduction:
- Preventing any attacks from gaining access to the organization's computer systems.
- Detecting intruders.
- Interrupting attacks that are already underway, ideally, as soon as feasible.
The following are some of the best practices:
- Putting up perimeter protections like firewalls in place to assist block attack attempts and access to known harmful sites.
- Putting together an incident handling strategy to ensure the response to a security breach.
- Implementing proper security setups, password rules, and access controls for users.
- Establishing a program of monitoring and detection to discover and warn to doubtful activities.
- Using anti-malware software, such as antivirus software, to provide an additional layer of security against cyber-attacks.
- Having a patch management procedure in place to fix known software flaws that hackers might exploit.
- Individual user training and education regarding attack scenarios and how they, as individuals, may contribute to the organization's security.
What are the Best Cybersecurity Softwares?
Adware, ransomware, spyware, malware, and phishing are examples of cyberattacks that cybersecurity software protects an organization's IT networks, computer systems, mobile apps, and software platforms from. To prevent unwanted access and provide real-time business security, the program employs technologies such as encrypting data, firewall protection, website scanning, and incident response.
Web vulnerability scanning, data encryption, penetration testing, network defense, firewall, antivirus, spyware protection, and password management are all examples of cybersecurity software solutions. In certain circumstances, these tools provide application and network security, as well as disaster recovery.
The software offers antivirus functionalities to defend networks and systems from viruses that can significantly slow down the processing speed, hack important files, or seriously harm the computer or network systems. It also protects users' private information, such as passwords, financial data, credit card details, and social security numbers, from identity theft and spyware attacks. Other components of cybersecurity software include data encryption and user authorization.
Based on user feedback (reviews and ratings), social media buzz, online presence and other important data, the best cybersecurity software in 2022 can be listed as follows:
Zenarmor (Sensei) is an all-software instant firewall that can be deployed virtually anywhere. Thanks to its appliance-free, all-in-one, all-software, light-weight and simple architecture, it can be instantly deployed onto any platform which has network access. Virtual or bare-metal. On-premise or Cloud. Any Cloud. For open source firewalls; this technology delivers state-of-the-art, next-generation features not currently available in products such as OPNsense. If you are running an L4 firewall (all open source firewalls fall into this category) and need features such as Application Control, Network Analytics, and TLS Inspection, Zenarmor provides these features and more. The underlying technology behind the product is a very light-weight yet powerful packet inspection core that can provide a wide variety of enterprise-grade network security functions. Lightweight and powerful appliance-free technology allows organizations to launch instant firewalls on demand and easily secure environments as small as home networks or scale to multi-cloud deployments. It's as easy as launching an application. Packet inspection core is powerful enough to protect against encrypted threats while also being so lightweight and nimble that it can even fit in very resource-constrained environments. Zenarmor's single-pass architecture processes packets once and for all security controls. You can deploy zero-latency security without backhauling data packets back and forth between POPs and data centers.The same security stack runs wherever deployed for an unprecedented level of consistency when applying security policies. Cloud-based management provides control for all policies and network deployments. You can inspect locally, analyze and manage centrally and design policies independent of locations and devices and enforce them across all IT environments. The ability to aggregate and view all security telemetry through a single pane of glass. Start with an enterprise-level perspective and dive down to specific relationship details. Zenarmor offers a free version in addition to three premium membership tiers based on the user's needs and budget.
Teramind is a prominent vendor of employee monitoring and one of the most effective cybersecurity systems on the market. It works for over 2000 enterprises in banking, retail, energy, manufacturing, technology, government sectors, and healthcare to identify insider threats and prevent data theft. It aids in the detection of noxious activities and increases performance. This technology records and identifies risks protects against them with a user-centric security strategy and enables real-time access. AI / Machine Learning, Behavioral Analytics, Endpoint Management, Incident Management, Whitelisting / Blacklisting, Teramind Cybersecurity Features.
- SiteLock is a major online security and cybersecurity software solution that protects over 12 million websites. This solution defends against all DDoS attacks and fulfills all PCI compliance rules, from giving 360-degree security to detecting vulnerabilities, from automatically eliminating malware to WordPress database inspection. Web threat management, two-factor authentication, and other features are among the most popular. Additionally, it enhances website security testing and boosts their performance. Behavioral Analytics, Endpoint Management, Incident Management, Vulnerability Scanning, Whitelisting / Blacklisting are all features of SiteLock Cybersecurity.
Heimdal CORP is a malware monitoring, software management, internet traffic reporting, and online scanning and filtering endpoint web security solution. Vulnerability detection, AI/Machine learning, behavioral analytics, and other features are among the solution's highlights. With the rise in cybercriminal threats and data leakage, every business needs a modern security solution that provides entire corporate security and prevents critical information from falling into the wrong hands. AI / Machine Learning, Behavioral Analytics, and Vulnerability Scanning are some of the features of Heimdal CORP Cybersecurity.
Are Cyber Attacks Dangerous?
Yes. Undesired attempts to steal, disclose, change, disable, or corrupt data through gaining unauthorized access to computer systems are known as cyberattacks. Cyber attacks are dangerous. Cyberattacks may lead to the theft of personal, financial, and medical data, as well as financial loss. These attacks have the potential to harm your reputation as well as your safety.
Cyberattacks may come in many different forms, including gaining access to your personal computers, mobile phones, gaming systems, and another internet- and Bluetooth-enabled devices. Identity theft is one way to damage your financial security. Attempting to block your access or deleting your personal data and accounts; complicating your jobs or business services and affecting transportation and the energy infrastructure are the other forms.
Cybersecurity refers to the prevention, detection, and response to cyberattacks that have broad implications for individuals, companies, communities, and the nation. If you feel you have been the victim of a cyberattack, notify the appropriate federal, state, and local authorities. Make a report to the police department so that the incident is reported.