What is
a Cyberattack?

A cyberattack is an assault that cybercriminals have launched to target a network or the devices, applications, and data on a network. Attackers can steal data, disable or damage devices, and leave malware behind that can launch future attacks on other networks. The methods used to deploy a cyberattack can include malware, phishing, ransomware, distributed denial of service attacks, and other techniques.

Any device or network connected to the Internet is exposed to many types of threats. Cyberattacks are one type of threat targeting systems that connect to the Internet.

What Are the Reasons for Cyberattacks?


There are many reasons an attacker would launch a cyberattack. One of the biggest reasons is financial gain. Attackers can steal personal and financial data and sell it on the black market or use ransomware to extort money from the target. Other reasons that hackers launch attacks are for political reasons, experimental reasons, or government-sanctioned reasons.

Types of Cyberattacks


Cyberattack is a general term that applies to a range of methods and techniques hackers can use to gain unauthorized access to networks and devices. Here are some of the most common cyberattacks:

Malware

Malware is short for "malicious software" and can apply to all types of software that can cause damage to devices, networks, or data. Worms, viruses, and trojan horses are some types of malware. Cyberattacks using malware usually require user interaction to be effective and can be prevented with security training.

Ransomware

Ransomware would fit into the malware category but deserves its own category because of its uniqueness and prevalence. Ransomware encrypts a user's system and then demands a ransom payment, usually in a cryptocurrency, to restore access to the system.

Phishing

Phishing is the technique of convincing an unsuspecting target to commit some harmful action with an email that masquerades as communication from legitimate sites. This action could be entering credentials into a counterfeit website so they can be stolen or downloading and installing any of the varieties of malware.

Denial of Service

A denial of service attack is a brute force method of preventing a network, application, or service from running properly. This involves sending a flood of requests that overwhelm the targeted service. A distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS attack, uses a vast network of devices to accomplish more than just using one attacking system can.

Man-in-the-Middle

In a man-in-the-middle attack, the attacker inserts himself between a target and a service they are trying to access. The attacker can then harvest data from the target without them knowing.

Exploits

Exploits are attacks on known vulnerabilities and bugs in software. Often updates and patches will fix these flaws, but enough vulnerable software has not been updated in general that attackers scan networks connected to the Internet for it. By leveraging these bugs, hackers can gain unauthorized access to systems and data.

SQL Injection

SQL injection is a technique that attackers use on vulnerable database-enabled applications. If applications are not programmed correctly, hackers can execute code on a database and gain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking could be considered a type of malware attack. Attackers trick users into installing software that will "mine" cryptocurrency for them using phishing or other techniques.

DNS Tunneling

DNS tunneling can be used for legitimate reasons. But it can also be used for malicious ones like disguising outbound traffic as DNS to conceal data that is being stolen from a network.

What Are the Results of Cyberattacks?


At the very least, a cyberattack can cause networks, services, and applications to run slowly, stop responding, or crash. A cyberattack can also result in much more damage.

Attackers could steal sensitive customer data, including personal data, health data, or financial information. Once they have this data, they can use it to steal identities or sell it on the dark market to other criminals.

Ransomware attacks can shut down a network and devices until the ransom is paid. This can disrupt business processes and create irate customers.

Cyberattacks can also tarnish the reputation of a business. Customers and clients expect their data to be kept private and secure. A data breach can damage the trust customers once had in a business.

How Can Cyberattacks Be Prevented?


Devices and networks can be protected from cyberattacks. Here are some cybersecurity tactics that can be enacted to prevent cyberattacks from inflicting any damage.

Enforce Sound Security Practices

Stolen credentials can give an attacker all the access they need to launch any type of cyberattack they choose. Strong passwords and the use of two-factor authentication can prevent attackers from being able to use stolen credentials. This is only one of many security practices that can prevent attacks.

Educate Users

Educating users about cyber threats and cybersecurity can prevent cyberattacks. Employees that know how to detect a phishing attack will be less likely to fall prey to malicious emails.

Back-Up and Keep Audit Trails

Backups are necessary for the worst-case scenario when data gets corrupted. It can mean the difference between a system being back online in a few minutes or a few days.

Keeping an audit trail will give you the information necessary to detect and track data breaches resulting from compromised credentials and other cyberattacks.

Encrypt All Data

Encrypting data when it is in transit or at rest will make it useless to attackers if they get unauthorized access to it.

Keep Applications Patched and Updated

Many cyberattacks are successful because of known bugs and flaws in software. Attackers take advantage of them to launch cyberattacks on devices or entire networks. Software vendors are usually quick to create patches and updates to fix bugs, but they must be applied regularly to keep systems secure.

Use Email and Endpoint Security

Email security software can detect and remove malicious attachments that can result in a cyberattack and stop phishing attacks. Endpoint security software can ensure that each device on the network can detect and prevent malware, viruses, and other cyberattacks.

Use a Firewall

A firewall can protect the perimeter of a network from cyberattacks by monitoring, filtering, and blocking, when necessary, incoming and outgoing data packets.

Segment Your Network and Devices

Segmentation can prevent the lateral movement of cyberattacks within a network. Segmentation uses zero trust architecture that separates a network into subnets that each have their own unique access and security requirements. This means a successful cyberattack on one device will not affect the other devices on the network.

Conclusion


Cyberattacks are a risk of connecting to the Internet. Attackers use a variety of techniques to steal data, extort money, or simply make your systems hard to use. Cyberattacks can be detected and prevented with vigilant security practices and modern security techniques and software.

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