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Cyber Security Threats and Attacks: All You Need to Know


Corporate EspionageBusiness Disruption, or Financial Gain. Whatever the motivation, cybersecurity threats have become pervasive and continue to upend every facet of the digital realm.

According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 86% of cybersecurity breaches were financially motivated, and 10% were motivated by espionage.

Beyond causing severe financial damage, cyberattacks can lead to regulatory penalties, lawsuits, reputational damage, and business continuity disruptions.

No business and IT organization are safe in the present cyber world. As cybercriminals increasingly rely on sophisticated technologies, organizations often feel hopeless as their confidential data and critical assets fall prey to malicious attacks.

Moreover, the rapid adoption of emerging technologies, including AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud computing, have added new cyber threats for organizations while adding complexity to existing risks.

What is a Cybersecurity Threat?

A cybersecurity threat is a malicious and deliberate attack by an individual or organization to gain unauthorized access to another individual’s or organization’s network to damage, disrupt, or steal IT assets, computer networks, intellectual property, or any other form of sensitive data.

Types of Cybersecurity Threats

While the types of cyber threats continue to grow, there are some of the most common and prevalent cyberthreats that present-day organizations need to know. They are as follows:

1) Malware

Malware attacks are the most common type of cyberattack. Malware is defined as malicious software, including spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms, which gets installed into the system when the user clicks a dangerous link or email. Once inside the system, malware can block access to critical components of the network, damage the system, and gather confidential information, among others.

According to Accenture, the average cost of a malware attack is USD 2.6 million.

2) Phishing

Cybercriminals send malicious emails that seem to come from legitimate resources. The user is then tricked into clicking the malicious link in the email, leading to malware installation or disclosure of sensitive information like credit card details and login credentials.

Phishing attack accounts for over 80% of reported cyber incidents.

3) Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a more sophisticated form of a phishing attack in which cybercriminals target only privileged users such as system administrators and C-suite executives.

More than 71% of targeted attacks involve the use of spear phishing.

4) Man in the Middle Attack

Man in the Middle (MitM) attack occurs when cyber criminals place themselves between a two-party communication. Once the attacker interprets the communication, they may filter and steal sensitive data and return different responses to the user.

According to Netcraft, 95% of HTTPS servers are vulnerable to MitM.

5) Denial of Service Attack

Denial of Service attacks aims at flooding systems, networks, or servers with massive traffic, thereby making the system unable to fulfill legitimate requests. Attacks can also use several infected devices to launch an attack on the target system. This is known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

The year 2019 saw a staggering 8.4 million DDoS attacks.

6) SQL Injection

A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection attack occurs when cybercriminals attempt to access the database by uploading malicious SQL scripts. Once successful, the malicious actor can view, change, or delete data stored in the SQL database.

SQL injection accounts for nearly 65.1% of all web application attacks.

7) Zero-day Exploit

A zero-day attack occurs when software or hardware vulnerability is announced, and the cybercriminals exploit the vulnerability before a patch or solution is implemented.

It is predicted that zero-day attacks will rise to one per day by 2021.

8) Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

An advanced persistent threat occurs when a malicious actor gains unauthorized access to a system or network and remains undetected for an extended time.

45% of organizations feel that they are likely to be the target of an APT.

9) Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware attack in which the attacker locks or encrypts the victim’s data and threatens to publish or blocks access to data unless a ransom is paid.

Ransomware attacks are estimated to cost global organizations USD 20 billion by 2021.

10) DNS Attack

A DNS attack is a cyberattack in which cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in the Domain Name System (DNS). The attackers leverage the DNS vulnerabilities to divert site visitors to malicious pages (DNS Hijacking) and exfiltrate data from compromised systems (DNS Tunneling).

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