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10 Types of Cyberattacks Recently Used by Hackers (2023)

April 28, 202311 min read

Cybersecurity

Cybercrime will cost businesses worldwide $8 trillion in 2023, which is expected to increase by 15% by 2025. 

This is due to increasingly sophisticated cyberattack methods and a rapidly growing number of people working remotely. Understanding the different types of cyberattacks that hackers use is the first step in defending your organization's data.  

In this article, we take a closer look at ten types of cyberattacks used by hackers worldwide. We'll discuss how these attacks work and provide tips on preventing and defending against them. 

Knowing what you're up against can help you stay safe in the digital world, whether you're a business owner, government official, or an individual.

The three big takeaways for organizations to protect themselves are:

  • Educate your employees about cyberattacks
  • Establish cybersecurity protocols across your organization
  • Use a password manager for all of your company's logins

Table of Contents

General Best-Practices to Safeguard Against Cyberattacks

The following recommendations can help protect you and your organization against a wide range of cyberattacks:

  • Use anti-malware software, which can help identify and block malicious software
  • Be alert when clicking on links, downloading attachments, or providing personal information online
  • Be especially wary of spam emails and know how to stop them
  • Avoid downloading software from untrusted sources, and only download from reputable vendors
  • Regularly back up important files

Following these principles will help most small businesses and organizations significantly reduce their exposure to cyber threats. Nonetheless, some highly sophisticated attack varieties and teams can take down even the most secure systems. We'll discuss these shortly. 

Phishing Attacks

An estimated 90% of all data breaches occur due to phishing attacks. Phishing is a cyberattack that tricks individuals into giving away sensitive information. This information could include login credentials, personal information or financial data. 

Hackers use phishing emails, text messages, and social media messages to impersonate a trusted organization or individual and trick the target into providing personal information.

One widespread example of a phishing attack is an email that appears to be from a bank or financial institution, asking the recipient to click on a link and confirm their account information. The link leads to a fake website that is a copy of the legitimate website, and the target is prompted to enter their login credentials, which the attacker then steals. 

Another example is a text message that appears to be from a delivery company, asking the recipient to click on a link to track their package. The link leads to a website where the victim is prompted to enter their personal information, which the attacker then steals.

Preventing phishing attacks requires vigilance. Individuals and organizations need to be aware of this type of attack and always verify the authenticity of the sender and the website before entering any information. Anti-phishing software helps identify and block phishing attempts, and healthy password policies will reduce your chance of continued exposure to phishing attacks. 

Ransomware

Spread primarily through phishing emails; ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim's files and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. 

The attackers first gain access to the target's system, and once inside, they encrypt the victim's files, making them inaccessible. The victim is then presented with a ransom demand, usually as a message on the computer screen or a pop-up window. The attackers may demand payment in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, to provide the decryption key.

To prevent ransomware attacks, regularly back up your important files and keep the backup files offline so that you can restore your files from the backup if your system is infected with ransomware.

For further protection, use anti-malware software to help identify and block malicious software. As with phishing attacks, not clicking on any unidentified link or downloading any unknown file is fundamental to protecting yourself and your organization against ransomware attacks.  

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) are cyberattacks that try and overload and take down a website or network by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. 

Attackers accomplish this by using a connected network of compromised devices, known as botnets, to direct a massive amount of traffic to the target website or network. If the volume is high enough, this flood of traffic can cause the targeted network to become unavailable, making it difficult or impossible for legitimate users to access it. The attackers then demand a ransom to stop sending traffic to the target website and allow it to function normally again. 

Probably the most well-known example of a DDoS attack is the Mirai botnet attack that occurred in 2016 and rendered the internet inaccessible to much of the U.S.'s east coast inaccessible. The attackers, Paras Jha and other student friends used a botnet of compromised Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as routers and cameras, to generate a huge volume of traffic directed at target servers which overloaded them and made them crash. 

Safeguarding against DDoS attacks involves regularly monitoring your network traffic, detecting any unusual activity, and maintaining good network hygiene by frequently blocking or disabling unnecessary services and devices. 

Malware

Malware, similar to ransomware, is malicious software designed to harm a system, network, or device. Malware comes in many forms, including viruses, worms, trojans, and ransomware. 

These programs can be delivered to a victim's system through various means, such as email attachments, infected software downloads, or malicious websites. Once installed on a system, malware causes multiple issues, from stealing personal information to encrypting files and demanding a ransom.

One of the most dangerous examples of malware is Qbot, which impacted 7% of organizations worldwide in 2022. It's a highly sophisticated program used to steal passwords and login credentials, exposing victims to theft and large-scale data breaches. 

Preventing malware has a similar protocol to safeguarding against phishing attacks and ransomware, which involves being wary of unsolicited and unidentified emails, links and files, regularly updating software, encrypting passwords, and backing up your files so in the event of an attack, you can restore. 

Social Engineering

Social engineering is a cyberattack that uses psychological manipulation and deception to trick individuals into providing sensitive information or performing specific actions. The attacker pretends to be someone familiar to the target, getting them to download malicious software or give away their personal details. These attacks are generally initiated through phishing emails, phone calls, or social media messages.  

An example of a social engineering attack is a phone call from a person claiming to be from a technical support team and asking for the victim's login credentials to fix a supposed problem with their computer, which they then use to steal personal information for identity theft or financial information. 

Prevent social engineering attacks by being suspicious of urgent requests for personal information and be wary of any requests for login credentials from any source, particularly from unknown or new accounts via social media and email.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) are amongst the highest standard of cyberattack, a campaign launched by a motivated attacker, such as a nation-state or a well-funded criminal organization. 

The attacker's goal is to compromise their target's network and remain undetected for an extended period of time - thus, a persistent attack. APT attacks are tailored to specific targets, such as government agencies, critical infrastructure, and large corporations. Using numerous techniques such as phishing attacks, social engineering and exploiting software vulnerabilities, they gain access to the target's network, where they steal sensitive information, install backdoors for future access, and interfere with operations.

Well-established APT groups include Lazarus Group from North Korea, which primarily target South Korean and U.S. government agencies, Equation Group from the United States, which primarily target Iranian and Afghanistanian government agencies, and Machete, a South American APT group targeting the military agencies of numerous South American states. 

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks occur when an attacker intercepts and alters the communication between two parties. 

The attacker achieves this by positioning themselves between the two parties and can then read, modify, or even inject new data into the communication. This type of attack can occur on a variety of networks, including wireless, wired, and virtual private networks (VPNs).

One frequent mode of MitM attack is where an attacker intercepts unencrypted wireless traffic at a public Wi-Fi hotspot. The attacker can read and modify any data sent over the network. 

Reduce exposure to MiTM attacks by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) when browsing the internet. 

Structured Query Language (SQL) Injection

SQL Injection is a type of cyberattack that targets the database of a website or application. An attacker achieves this by inputting malicious code into a web form or a URL, to try and trick the application into executing unwanted structured query language commands to the database. The attacker generally designs these commands to gain access to sensitive information or to alter, delete or add data to the database.

For example, hackers can use SQL Injection attacks to input their query into a search form on a website, allowing them to retrieve sensitive information such as credit card numbers or personal data stored on that site's server.

Validating all user input is essential for adequately protecting your website or application against SQL Injection attacks. Use input validation and filtering to ensure that any input data conforms to the expected format. Also, use the "least privilege principle," which means giving only necessary permissions to the database user, thus minimizing the damage in case the attacker manages to inject SQL.

Zero-Day Exploits

A zero-day exploit takes advantage of a previously unknown software vulnerability. These vulnerabilities are unknown to the software vendor and the general public, making them particularly dangerous. 

Zero-day exploits might use a vulnerability in a web browser to gain access to a victim's system. The attacker can use a specially crafted website to exploit the vulnerability and gain access to the victim's system, where they can install malware or steal sensitive information. 

To prevent zero-day exploits, users must update their software and systems to protect against known vulnerabilities. Use anti-malware software, which can help identify and block malicious software. Additionally, use intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) to detect and prevent zero-day attacks.

The Takeaway: 10 Different Types of Cyberattacks

One of the most fundamental ways of protecting yourself and your organization against most cyberattacks is having robust password management policies. It's also essential to stay informed to protect against cyberattacks, as they are on the rise and cause significant damage to individuals and businesses. 

Cyberattacks can result in data loss, financial loss, and even physical harm. By understanding the different types of cyberattacks and how to prevent them, you can take steps to protect yourself and your business from these threats.

There are many further resources available for more information on cybersecurity, such as the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provide information on cyber threats and best practices for protecting against them. 

 How TeamPassword Can Help

Hackers use a variety of cyberattack methods to steal data or disrupt systems. TeamPassword's easy-to-use password manager provides teams with a secure and simple way to save and share digital records in an encrypted environment. With a built-in password generator, strength indicator, and a reminder feature, TeamPassword makes password management a breeze.

Guest Post Author: IRINA MALTSEVA

Irina Maltseva is a Growth Lead at Aura and a Founder at ONSAAS. For the last seven years, she has been helping SaaS companies to grow their revenue with inbound marketing. At her previous company, Hunter, Irina helped 3M marketers to build business connections that matter. Now, at Aura, Irina is working on her mission to create a safer internet for everyone. To get in touch, follow her on LinkedIn.

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