Introduction to cybersecurity: Types of cyberthreats you need to know

Cybercrime is now one of the fastest-growing crimes, beating the global illegal drug trade in terms of profitability. Estimates indicate that it will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, a huge increase from $3 trillion back in 2015. Businesses of all sizes are vulnerable to the threat — in fact, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. To fortify your company, you first have to be familiar with the threats, what they do, and how they can penetrate your network.

Here are the most common types of cyberthreats today:

#1. Malware

This is a broad term that covers several types of malicious software, including viruses, Trojans, ransomware, spyware, and worms. Malware enters your system through vulnerabilities, such as the absence of antivirus software or when users click on infected links or email attachments.

The primary goal of malware is to wreak havoc on your system. Depending on the type, malware can block your access to specific network components, obtain private information from your hard drive, install harmful programs, or render your whole network inoperable.

Malware is one of the most common types of cyberthreats — a staggering 10.52 billion attacks happened in 2018 alone. One of the most recent attacks happened to the city of Baltimore in May, when aggressive ransomware encrypted the data stored on their hard drive. The city spent over $18 million to recover from the incident.

#2. Phishing

This tactic involves sending fraudulent communications, such as email, SMS, voice calls, or private messages, made to look like they come from a trustworthy source like a bank or a partner company. The goal is to trick recipients into providing sensitive information or clicking on a link or attachment that typically contains malware.

According to data, Microsoft Office users are more at risk of malware infection through phishing. This is because Office files accounted for 48% of malicious attachments in 2018, a 5% increase from figures in 2017.

#3. Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack

This is a type of attack wherein a malicious party eavesdrops by inserting themselves in a conversation or transaction, with the goal of stealing sensitive information. MitM attacks usually happen when victims use unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in cafes and public hotspots, where hackers can easily position themselves between the user and the network. The attacker can also use malware to process the information in the victim’s network.

MitM does not require you and the attacker to be in close proximity to each other. Besides using a secure network for internet communication, you can also augment your data’s protection from MitM by implementing multifactor authentication (MFA).

#4. Denial-of-service (DoS)

This type of threat happens when the perpetrator floods your systems, networks, or servers with traffic, disrupting your ability to fulfill legitimate requests. When launched using multiple compromised devices, this becomes known as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

Although DDoS attacks usually occur in video gaming, they can also happen to business networks and other websites. One notable example happened in September this year, when Wikipedia suffered what is considered one of the most disruptive DDoS attacks to date. The number of attacks is also increasing — reports indicate that more attacks happened in Q1 of 2019 than in the same period the previous year.

#5. Structured Query Language (SQL) injection

This type of threat happens when a perpetrator inserts malicious code into a website or application that uses an SQL database, such as SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL. It’s not that complicated either — the attacker can simply submit the malicious code through an unprotected website search box.

SQL injection allows attackers to perform tasks a server would not normally let them do. These include obtaining user credentials, altering existing data and adding new information, deleting records, or accessing the operating system (OS) itself. According to data, the healthcare sector is the most common target of SQL injection attacks.

#6. Zero-day exploit

This type of threat happens on the same day a system weakness or vulnerability is announced, right before a patch becomes available. Hackers usually get word of a vulnerability when users report it to the manufacturers or warn other users of its presence over the internet. This year, Microsoft had to release emergency fixes for Internet Explorer after hackers exploited a zero-day bug that would give them as much control over a compromised system as an administrator would.

The good news is that you can mitigate the risk of your network falling victim to these cyberthreats by implementing the right cybersecurity measures and protocols. If you are unsure how to adequately protect your system, you can call the experts at Zeta Sky for assistance.

Phishing remains among the most common types of cyberattack, reportedly causing 32 percent of data breaches in 2018.

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