In the modern world today, information technology has become a part of us.
We have evolved every year to the point that Technology has advanced to a whole new level where anyone could access data anywhere and anytime. That is the advantage. The disadvantage is that such information technology that can be accessed freely, can also be prone to receive cyber attacks.
These cyber-attacks connote any intentional effort to steal, expose, alter, disable or destroy data, applications or other assets through unauthorised access to a network computer system or digital device. It is a set of actions performed by threat actors, who try to gain unauthorised access, steal data or cause damage to computers, computer networks, or other computing systems.
It is paramount to note that as a business or organisation, any computer or device can receive cyber attacks. Whether the business has built a data protection system or not, its data privacy is bound to be breached.
A cyber attack can be launched from any location. Such an attack can be performed by an individual or a group using one or more tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).
The individuals who launch cyber attacks are usually referred to as cybercriminals, threat actors, bad actors, or hackers. Those individuals can work alone, in collaboration with other attackers, or as part of an organized criminal group.
Government-sponsored groups of computer experts also launch cyber attacks. They have been accused of attacking the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure of other governments, as well as non-government entities, such as businesses, nonprofits and utilities. Organisations incur financial losses, customer trust gets hampered, and there is reputational damage.
Let us look at some of the types of Cyber Attacks that an Information Technology of a business might be prone to:
1. Making use of Botnets as Web-based attacks: Botnets are used to launch website attacks, so as to cause huge traffic on the website, for instance. An attacker can use bots to steal essential information and data from those websites.
2. Using Botnets as a System-based attack: Botnets are used by attackers to infect and control the systems of other devices and spread viruses in order to steal data.
3. Malware: A computer system, when vulnerable, is prone to an attack when a user clicks a dangerous link or email attachment that then installs risky software.
Companies are becoming more reliant on mobile communication which these cyber attackers are now targeting.
While the NSO Group’s Pegasus is the most famous threat to mobile devices, it is far from the only mobile software. New mobile surveillance malware created by Cytrox and QuaDream has begun using the same techniques and providing the same capabilities as Pegasus.
4. Phishing: This is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is an increasingly common cyber threat.
Unaware of this, the victim opens the mail and clicks on the malicious link or opens the email’s attachment. By doing so, attackers gain access to confidential information and account credentials. They can also install malware through a phishing attack.
5. Man-in-the-middle (MitM) [also known as “Eavesdropping Attacks”: This occurs when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction. Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data.
It can attack via insecure public Wi-Fi. Attackers can insert themselves between a visitor’s device and the network. Without knowing, the visitor passes all information through the attacker. Also, once malware has breached a device, an attacker can install software to process all of the victim’s information.
6. Denial-of-service attack: This floods systems, servers, or networks with traffic to exhaust resources and bandwidth. As a result, the system is unable to fulfil legitimate requests. Attackers can also use multiple compromised devices to launch this attack. This is known as “a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack”.
7. SQL Injection Attack: This attack occurs on a database-driven website when the hacker manipulates a standard SQL query. It is carried out by injecting malicious code into a vulnerable website search box, thereby making the server reveal crucial information. This results in the attacker being able to view, edit, and delete tables in the databases. Attackers can also get administrative rights through this.
8. Zero-day exploit: This hits after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time. Zero-day vulnerability threat detection requires constant awareness.
9. Password Attack: It is a form of attack wherein a hacker cracks your password with various programs and password-cracking tools like Aircrack, Cain, Abel, John the Ripper, Hashcat, etc. There are different types of password attacks like brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, and keylogger attacks.
How do you fix the aforementioned?
It is also paramount to set up cyber security which includes the following (to mention a few):
1. Use antivirus software. It can protect your computer against malware. Avast Antivirus, Norton Antivirus, and McAfee Antivirus are a few of the popular antivirus software.
2. Use firewalls. Firewalls filter the traffic that may enter your device. Windows and Mac OS X have their default built-in firewalls, named Windows Firewall and Mac Firewall.
3. Stay alert and avoid clicking on suspicious links.
4. Update your OS and browsers, regularly.
5. Scrutinise the emails you receive. Most phishing emails have significant errors like spelling mistakes and format changes from that legitimate sources.
6. Make use of an anti-phishing toolbar.
7. Update your passwords regularly.
8. Use strong alphanumeric passwords with special characters.
9. Abstain from using the same password for multiple websites or accounts.
10. Update your passwords; this will limit your exposure to a password attack.
11. Do not have any password hints in the open.
12. Be mindful of the security of the website you are using. Use encryption on your devices.
13. Refrain from using public Wi-Fi networks.
14. Use an Intrusion detection system, as they design it to detect unauthorized access to a network.
15. Carry out a validation of the user-supplied data. With a validation process, it keeps the user input in check.
16. Run a traffic analysis to identify malicious traffic.
17. Understand the warning signs like network slowdown, intermittent website shutdowns, etc. At such times, the organization must take the necessary steps without delay.
18. Formulate an incident response plan, have a checklist and make sure your team and data centre can handle a DDoS attack.
19. Outsource DDoS prevention to cloud-based service providers.
20. Organizations should have well-communicated patch management processes. Use management solutions to automate the procedures. Thus it avoids delays in deployment.
21. Have an incident response plan to help you deal with a cyber attack. Keep a strategy focusing on zero-day attacks. By doing so, the damage can be reduced or completely avoided.