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What is a Cyber Attack and how to prevent yourself

Cyber attacks aim to steal sensitive data, disrupt key systems, or hold data or systems hostage by deploying malware or phishing.

A cyber attack is any kind of bad action that tries to hurt the security, privacy, or use of computer systems, networks, or devices. Malware, ransomware, phishing, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are all examples of these kinds of attacks. Cyber attacks can be started by individuals, groups, or even whole countries, and they can be aimed at either organizations or people. The goal of a cyber attack could be to steal private information, mess up important systems, or hold data or systems for ransom until a fee is paid. Cyber attacks can cause a lot of damage, like loss of money, damage to your reputation, and the loss of private or sensitive information.

What is a Cyber Security Attack?

A sequence of acts carried out by threat actors with the intention of gaining unauthorized access, stealing data, or causing harm to computers, computer networks, or other computing systems is referred to as a cyber attack. Any location has the potential to be the starting point of a cyber attack. The assault can be carried out by a single person or by a group of people utilizing any combination of strategies, methods, and procedures (TTPs).

Hackers, cybercriminals, threat actors, and bad actors are all terms that are commonly used to refer to the same group of people that initiate cyber attacks. They may carry out their attacks on their own, in conjunction with other criminals, or as members of a larger criminal organization. They look for security flaws, also known as vulnerabilities, in computer systems so that they can take advantage of those flaws and accomplish their objectives.

When it comes to launching cyberattacks, cybercriminals could be motivated by a variety of different things. Some people carry out attacks for the purpose of gaining personal or financial benefit. Others are “hacktivists,” or people who utilize hacking techniques for political or social change. Some assaults are part of larger cyberwarfare operations carried out by country states against their adversaries, while others are carried out by known terrorist groups acting under the auspices of such nation states.

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Different types of cyber attacks

A cyber-attack is the use of computer systems and networks to do something bad. It uses bad code to change computer code, logic, or data, which can lead to cybercrimes like identity and information theft.

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We are living in a digital era. Most people use computers and the internet now. Because digital things are so important, illegal computer activity is growing and changing just like any other kind of crime.

Attacks on computers can be put into the following groups:

Web based cyber security attacks

These are the kinds of attacks that can happen on a website or web app. Here are some of the most important attacks that happen on the web.

1. Injection attacks

It is an attack in which data is put into a web application to change it and get the information that the attacker wants.

Example

SQL Injection, code Injection, log Injection, XML Injection etc.

2. Session Hijacking

It is an attack on the cybersecurity of a user session on a protected network. Web apps use cookies to keep track of user sessions and the state of the app. If an attacker gets hold of the cookies, they can get to all of the user data.

Example

Session sniffing: In the example, the attacker employs a sniffer to collect a valid token session named “Session ID,” then uses it to obtain unauthorized access to the Web Server.

3. DNS Spoofing

DNS Spoofing is a way to break into cyber security. By adding data to a DNS resolver’s cache, the name server returns an incorrect IP address, which sends traffic to the attacker’s computer or any other computer. DNS spoofing attacks can go on for a long time before anyone notices, and they can cause serious security problems.

Example

Hackers compromised Amazon’s Route 53 DNS service and Google’s public DNS servers in 2018. They diverted 1,300 IP addresses to phishing websites to obtain user information.

4. Email scams

Phishing is a type of attack that tries to get sensitive information, like a user’s credit card number or login information, from them. In electronic communication, it happens when an attacker pretends to be a trustworthy entity.

Example

In a phishing email, cyber criminals will typically ask for your:

  • Date of birth
  • Social security numbers
  • Phone numbers
  • Credit card details
  • Home address
  • Password information (or what they need to reset your password

 

5. Brute force

It is a type of attack that tries things out and sees what works. This attack makes a lot of guesses and then checks them to get real information, like a user’s password or personal identification number. Criminals may use this attack to get into encrypted data, or security analysts may use it to test the security of a company’s network.

Example

In 2009, attackers targeted Yahoo accounts using automated password cracking scripts on a Yahoo web services-based authentication application.

 

6. Service Denied

It is an attack that tries to stop users from using a server or other network resource. It does this by sending a lot of traffic to the target or sending it information that makes it crash. It attacks a server with just one system and one Internet connection. It can be put into the following groups.

Example

  • Volume-based attacks: Try to fill up the bandwidth of the site being attacked. They are measured in bits per second.
  • Protocol attacks: It uses up real server resources and is measured in packets.
  • Application layer attacks: The goal of application layer attacks is to crash the web server, and they are measured by the number of requests they make per second.

7. Dictionary attacks

This type of attack kept a list of frequently used passwords and checked them to find the real password.

Example

Hackers targeting New York-based targets may try “knicksfan2020” or “newyorkknicks1234.” Attackers develop assault library dictionaries using sports team, monument, city, and address words.

8. URL Interpretation

It is a type of attack in which parts of a URL can be changed so that a web server sends a user pages that he is not allowed to see.

9. File Inclusion attacks

It is a type of attack that uses the include function to give an attacker access to unauthorized or important files on the web server or to run malicious files on the web server.

10. Man in the middle attacks (MitM)

It is a type of attack that lets the attacker take over the connection between the client and the server and act as a bridge between them. Because of this, an attacker will be able to read, add to, and change the data in a connection that has been intercepted.

System-based attacks

These are the kinds of attacks that are meant to break a computer or a network of computers. Here are a few of the most important system-based attacks.

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1. Virus

It is a type of bad software that spreads itself through a computer’s files without the user’s knowledge. It is a bad computer program that copies itself by inserting copies of itself into other programs when it is run. It can also carry out commands that hurt the system.

2. Trojan horse

It is a bad program that makes changes to computer settings and does strange things when the computer should be doing nothing. It doesn’t tell the user what it’s really for. It looks like a normal program, but when you open it or run it, some bad code will run in the background.

3. Worm

It is a type of malware whose main job is to copy itself and spread to computers that don’t have it. It does the same thing as the virus. Worms often come from email attachments that look like they came from people you trust.

4. Bots

A bot, which is short for “robot,” is an automated process that interacts with other network services. Some bot programs run on their own, while others only do what you tell them to do when you tell them to. The crawler, chatroom bots, and bad bots are all examples of bots programs.

5. Backdoors

It is a way to get around the normal process of authentication. A developer may make a backdoor to an application or operating system so that it can be used to fix problems or for other reasons.

Example of a Cyber Attack

Here are a few recent cyber attacks that affected the whole world.

Amazon DDoS Attack

In February 2020, a large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was aimed at Amazon Web Services (AWS). The company was hit by a DDoS attack of 2.3 Tbps (terabits per second) with a packet forwarding rate of 293.1 Mpps and a request rate per second (rps) of 694,201. The company was able to stop the attack. It is thought to be one of the biggest DDoS attacks ever.

Execution of Code Attack on Microsoft Exchange

In March 2021, Microsoft Exchange, a popular business email server, was hit by a large-scale cyber attack. It took advantage of four different zero-day holes found in Microsoft Exchange servers.

These holes let attackers make fake URLs that can’t be trusted and use them to get into an Exchange Server system or store malware on the server. It is a Remote Code Execution (RCE) attack, which lets attackers take over a server completely and access all of its data. On the servers that were attacked, the attackers stole sensitive information, put ransomware on them, and set up backdoors in a way that was almost impossible to track.

In the US alone, nine government agencies and more than 60,000 private businesses were hurt by the attacks.

Kaseya Ransomware Attack

Kaseya, an American company that makes remote management software, was hit by an attack on its supply chain. This was made public on July 2, 2021. The company said that hackers could use its VSA product to put ransomware on customer computers.

The attack was said to be very sophisticated because it took advantage of several new flaws in the Kaseya product: CVE-2021-30116 (credentials leak and business logic flaw), CVE-2021-30119 (cross-site scripting), and CVE-2021-30120 (cross-site request forgery) (two-factor authentication flaw). Customers got the malware that took advantage of these holes through a fake software update called “Kaseya VSA Agent Hot Fix.”

The attack was done by the cybercrime group REvil, which is based in Russia. Kaseya said that less than 0.1% of their customers were affected by the breach. However, some of those customers were managed service providers (MSPs) who used Kaseya software, and the attack affected the customers of those MSPs. Shortly after the attack, the news said that REvil ransomware had infected between 800 and 1500 small and medium-sized businesses.

SolarWinds Attack on the Supply Chain

This was a huge, very creative supply chain attack that was found in December 2020. It was named after the IT management company in Austin that was attacked, SolarWinds. It was done by APT 29, a group with ties to the Russian government that plans and carries out cyberattacks.

An update for SolarWinds’s Orion software platform was taken over by the attack. During the attack, threat actors put malware into Orion’s updates. This malware became known as the Sunburst or Solorigate malware. The updates were then sent to customers of SolarWinds.

The SolarWinds attack is thought to be one of the most serious cyber espionage attacks on the United States because it was able to get into the US military, many US-based federal agencies, including those in charge of nuclear weapons and critical infrastructure services, and most of the Fortune 500 companies.

Twitter Celebrities Attack

In July 2020, three hackers broke into Twitter and took over some of the most popular accounts. They used social engineering attacks, which Twitter later called “vishing,” to steal employee passwords and get into the company’s management systems (phone phishing).

Dozens of well-known accounts were broken into, including those of Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and Jeff Bezos. Attackers used the stolen accounts to post fake Bitcoin ads that made them over $100,000. Two weeks after the events, the US Justice Department brought charges against three suspects. At the time, one of the suspects was only 17 years old.

How to Stop Cyber Attacks: Common Security Solutions

Here are a few security tools that organizations often use to stop cyber attacks. Tools alone won’t stop attacks, though. Every organization needs trained IT and security staff or outsourced security services to manage the tools and use them effectively to reduce threats.

Adopt Multi factor authentication

One of the best ways to stop cyber attacks is to make sure that all applications in an organization that access the internet have multi-factor authentication turned on.

It’s not enough to just give employees a password to log in. If cybercriminals get hold of employee passwords through a hack or a phishing scam, they may be able to easily get into the systems.

Instead, if you set up a multi-factor authentication process for logins, employees will have to give more than one piece of information. Because of this, security will be improved. It will be much harder for people who shouldn’t be there to get into the systems.

Protection from DDoS attacks

A DDoS protection solution can stop a denial of service attack from taking down a network or server. It does this with dedicated network equipment that is set up on-site by the organization or as a service in the cloud. Large-scale DDoS attacks with millions of bots can only be stopped by cloud-based services because they can grow or shrink as needed.

A DDoS protection system or service watches traffic to find a pattern of a DDoS attack and tell the difference between good traffic and bad traffic. When it finds an attack, it does “scrubbing,” which means it looks at each traffic packet and drops any that it thinks are bad. This keeps them from getting to the target server or network. At the same time, it sends legitimate traffic to the target system to make sure that service doesn’t get interrupted.

Bot protection

A lot of the traffic on the Internet is made up of bots. Websites get a lot of traffic from bots, which uses up system resources. Some bots are helpful, like the ones that index websites for search engines, but others can be used to do bad things. Bots can be used for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), to get content from websites, to attack web applications automatically, to spread spam and malware, and more.

A bot protection system finds and stops bad bots while letting good bots do things like indexing search results, testing, and keeping an eye on how well something is working. It does this by keeping a big list of known bot sources and looking for patterns of behavior that could mean a bot is bad.

Web Application Firewall (WAF)

A WAF protects web applications by looking at HTTP requests and looking for traffic that might be malicious. This can be either incoming traffic, like when a bad user tries to inject code, or outgoing traffic, like when malware on a local server talks to a command and control (C&C) center.

WAFs can stop malicious traffic from getting to a web application and stop attackers from taking advantage of many common flaws, even if the flaws haven’t been fixed in the application itself. It works with traditional firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS) to protect against attacks made at the application layer by attackers (layer 7 of the OSI network model).

Securing the cloud

Infrastructure, applications, and data are almost all managed in the cloud by almost every company today. Cloud systems are especially vulnerable to cyber threats because they are often open to public networks and have low visibility because they run outside the corporate network.

Cloud providers are in charge of keeping their infrastructure secure, and they offer built-in security tools to help cloud users keep their data and workloads safe. But first-party cloud security tools are limited, and there is no guarantee that they are being used correctly or that all cloud resources are really safe. Many companies use dedicated cloud security solutions to make sure that all of their sensitive assets that are stored in the cloud are safe.

Databases security

Databases usually hold sensitive, mission-critical information, which makes them an easy target for attackers. Securing databases means making database servers more secure, setting up databases correctly to allow access control and encryption, and keeping an eye out for bad things.

Database security solutions can help make sure that all databases in an organization have the same level of security. They can help stop problems like too many privileges, unpatched holes in database engines, sensitive data that isn’t protected, and database injection.

Security for API

Application programming interfaces (APIs) let modern apps talk to each other and get data or services from other apps. APIs are used to connect systems within a company, and they are also being used more and more to contact and get data from systems run by third parties.

All APIs can be attacked, but public APIs that can be used over the Internet are especially vulnerable. Because APIs are well-organized and well-documented, it is easy for attackers to learn how to use them and change them. Many APIs are not properly secured, may have weak authentication, or are open to attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and man in the middle (MitM).

Keeping APIs safe requires a number of steps, such as strong multi-factor authentication (MFA), safe use of authentication tokens, encryption of data in transit, and sanitization of user inputs to stop injection attacks. These security controls can be enforced for APIs in a centralized way with the help of API solutions.

Intelligence on threats

Threat intelligence works in the background and helps a lot of modern security tools do their jobs. It is also directly used by security teams when they look into what happened. Threat intelligence databases have structured information about threat actors, attack methods, techniques, and procedures, and known weaknesses in computer systems. This information comes from a variety of sources.

Threat intelligence solutions collect data from a large number of feeds and information sources. This lets an organization quickly find indicators of compromise (IOCs), use them to spot attacks, figure out what the threat actor is trying to do and how they do it, and come up with a good way to stop them.

 

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