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Common Types of Cyber Threats with Examples (Part 2)

types of cybersecurity threats

Introduction

In the previous blog we talked about what constitutes cyber security threats, main types of threats, most frequent targets and most common sources of attacks. In this post, we will delve deeper into the most common types of cyber security threats with relevant examples so you can easily identify the most common types of attack.

Top Cyber Threat Facts, Figures, and Statistics

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that the year of the pandemic was made difficult not just because of the rapidly mutating virus, but also because of cyber attacks that quite literally scaled unprecedented heights in both volume and complexity of attacks. Malware attacks rose by a steep 358% in 2020. From the astonishing Solarwinds supply chain attack to the 440 million records breached in the attack against Estee Lauder, we could barely take a breather from an incessant spate of cyber security attacks during the pandemic. Identity theft also saw a serious spike amid the pandemic with The US Federal Trade Commission receiving more than 1.4 million reports of identity theft – a 2X rise in incidents of identity theft numbers from 2019. The average cost of a data breach reached a staggering $3.86 million with Phishing attacks accounting for nearly 80% of all reported security incidents.

Common Types of Cybersecurity Threats

The only way to be prepared for cybersecurity threats is to know what they are and how they can affect your organization. Preparing ahead is the best defense against any kind of cyber attack. Cloud security Solutions offer highly relevant resources and hands-on advice from cybersecurity experts. In this article we will try to delve deeper into the different types of cybersecurity threats with examples:

Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

Botnets

A botnet is created using a network of compromised computers. These compromised systems are controlled through a command and control (C&C) channel by the hacker, or the botmaster. He essentially leverages the computing resources of all the connected systems or bots to launch attacks that are specifically designed to overwhelm or crash a target’s network, distribute malware, gather credentials or perform other CPU-intensive tasks as per the preference of the attacker.

Smurf attack

You only wish there was something cute about a Smurf attack. It is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack wherein the targeted server is deliberately flooded with Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets by the attacker. The attackers spoof the IP address of the targeted device and make requests to a few computer networks. The networks start to respond to the targeted server, thereby amplifying the first wave of attack traffic and quickly overwhelming the target server, effectively incapacitating it.

TCP SYN Flood Attack

A TCP SYN Flood attack is another form of a DoS (Denial of Service attack). This kind of attack has been in vogue for a long time and renders target servers unresponsive by overwhelming it with multiple SYN packets. The TCP connections are deliberately sent at a much higher speed than what the target server is capable of handling. This results in a slowdown or even crash of the server.

Teardrop Attack

Another common type of Denial of Service (DoS) attack, teardrop attacks are deployed through sending fragmented IP packets to overwhelm a target system. The packets are deployed so that the target system is incapable of reassembling the fragmented packets and they start to overlap one another eventually resulting in a crash.

Ping of Death Attack

Ping of death (PoD) is yet another form of a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, in which the target system is overwhelmed by the attacker using a packet much bigger than the maximum allowable size. Unsurprisingly, this results in the target server crashing or becoming unresponsive.

Five Most Famous DDoS Attacks

  • The Google Attack, 2020
  • The AWS DDoS Attack in 2020
  • The Mirai Krebs and OVH DDoS Attacks in 2016
  • The Mirai Dyn DDoS Attack in 2016
  • The Six Banks DDoS Attack in 2012

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack

Session Hijacking

TCP session hijacking typically target user sessions over a protected network. This is most commonly done through the technique of IP spoofing. In this kind of an attack, the hacker uses source-routed IP packets to put in new commands into an active communication channel between two nodes on a network. The commands are accepted because the hacker disguises the source as a genuine user.

Replay attack

Replay Attack works through the technique of repeating or delaying valid transmissions and re-transmitting it fraudulently. This is a very useful approach for attackers looking to find a point of entry into a system wherein he or she is not permitted. Replay attacks are typically used to authenticate hackers who are not part of the system to gain entry as a genuine user.

IP Spoofing

IP spoofing works through one computer duplicating the address of another system. IP spoofing may not be particularly threatening on its own, but it can easily be combined with TCP sequence prediction to conduct man in the middle attacks.

DNS Cache Poisoning

DNS spoofing attacks are a prevalent form of man-in-the-middle attacks. DNS (Domain Name System) attacks can end up affecting a large number of victims. A DNS spoofing attack is generally conducted through injecting a fake entry into the local cache of a system. If this is done by a hacker with malicious intent, all connections that are linked to this cache end up getting the wrong IP address and inadvertently end up being connected to the attacker.

HTTPS Spoofing

Ping of death (PoD) is yet another form of a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, in which the target system is overwhelmed by the attacker using a packet much bigger than the maximum allowable size. Unsurprisingly, this results in the target server crashing or becoming unresponsive.

Eavesdropping attack

SSL stripping or Eavesdropping attacks happen when your browser connects to an insecure site (HTTP) before quickly redirecting the traffic to a secure site (HTTPS). But in the briefest moment when you connect to a website without encryption, your communication is open to interception by hackers who can then force link to other insecure connections.

Most Famous MitM Attacks

Social Engineering Attacks

Phishing

Stripped down to its basics, phishing is a form of social engineering attack. It works on the basis of using people’s trust to steal their data, Or the data from the organization that they work for including highly sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial data and personally identifiable information. Attackers typically try to lure victims into visiting a spoofed website, opening an email attachment, clicking on a link in the mail or on instant message, or text message.

Types of Phishing

Angler phishing

Angler phishing refers to attacks deployed through spoof customer service accounts on social media.

Pharming

Pharming refers to the process of redirecting web traffic from legitimate sites to spoofed ones with potentially malicious intent.

Spear phishing

Spear phishing refers to highly targeted Phishing attacks against specific organisations or individuals.

BEC (business email compromise)

This is an increasingly popular form of cyber attack wherein employees of an organization are sent emails that appear to be from senior members of staff.

Whaling/CEO fraud

Whaling attacks typically impersonate the senior business leaders including the CEO to make employees Carry out transactions that benefit the hackers own agenda. While the motivation of whaling attacks are generally financial, they can also be used to damage or discredit the organization using sensitive information, or network access willingly provided by the employees.

Tabnabbing/reverse tabnabbing
Tabnabbing/reverse tabnabbing

Tabnabbing/reverse tabnabbing is a form of cyber attack where a webpage that is linked from the target page can rewrite that page, including replacing it with a fraudulent spoofed site. With the user confirmed that he or she is on the right webpage, very few people notice that the page has suddenly changed into a phishing site, especially if the site is a doppelganger of the original site.

Other types of social engineering

Other types of social engineering

Honey trap

Honey trap attacks dupe victims into believing that the hacker is romantically or sexually interested in them. The attacker uses this connection to the victim to manipulate him or her into disclosing sensitive information or money.

Smishing/SMS phishing

Phishing attacks that make use of text messages are referred to as Smishing/SMS phishing. The texts look like they come from legitimate entities. This is the first step towards earning the trust of the victim. This technique is used along with other techniques to bypass two-factor authentication requirements. The attackers can also ask the victim to visit malicious websites through links shared on their phones.

Baiting

Baiting is a common technique used to lure victims with a prize. The prize can compromise anything including free giveaways. The intention behind the attack is to fool users into inadvertently compromising their security.

Diversion theft

Diversion thefts are a common practice even in the real world that involve redirecting deliveries by convincing couriers to go to a location very different from the actual address. In the digital world, this kind of attack attempts to steal confidential information by convincing victims to share it with the wrong recipient.

Pretexting

Pretexting is the practice of gaming a victim’s trust by developing a full-fledged backstory to make the lie more convincing. It is typically used as an initial stage of more complex social engineering attacks.

Tailgating

Tailgating is a physical security attack that’s often successful because it’s often overlooked. In this type of an attack, the attack are simply follow someone with the right credentials into a secure or restricted area. They can use any excuse to gain access to restricted operational areas, including pretending to be a genuine employee and simply having mislaid their access card.

Vishing/voice phishing

Similar to text phishing or smishing, voice phishing attacks are highly targeted social engineering attacks conducted through voice calls. Victims receive a call that apparently comes from a trusted source, such as their own bank, wherein they are informed of some irregularity or problem with their accounts. They attackers pretend to help the victim through this problem and manipulate them into revealing sensitive information, such as their credentials. Attackers could even use recorded messages that prompt users to enter details such as the password to their ATM card using keypad strokes that can be recorded by the hacker.

Five Most Famous Social Engineering Attacks

  • $100 Million Google and Facebook Spear Phishing Scam
  • Deepfake Attack on UK Energy Company
  • $60 Million CEO Fraud Lands CEO In Court
  • Microsoft 365 phishing scam steals user credentials
  • Ransomware gang hijacks victim’s email account

Conclusion

No organization, no matter how small or big, is safe from cybersecurity threats. It is up to users and organizations themselves to be aware of the kind of attacks that are prevalent. It is only when they recognize the attacks that they can hope to defend themselves against them. In order to ensure business continuity, organizations must adopt effective Vulnerability Management. Shamrock guarantees an improved security posture for your business through our Dark Fiber solution.

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around cloud direct connects and cloud cost reduction, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and Voice over IP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he’s helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. When he takes the occasional break from designing networks, he enjoys surfing, golf, working out, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife, Linsey, his son, Weston and his dog, Hamilton.

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