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The 8 Most Common Cyberattacks You Need to Defend Against

Cyberattacks are coming at every organization from all directions, and the numbers are astounding. There were 2.5 billion malware attacks and 2.5 trillion intrusion attempts in the first half of 2021 alone. Among the most common cyberattacks, ransomware has been daily headline news for a good reason. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), from January to July 31, 2021, 2,084 ransomware complaints were received, reflecting more than $16.8M in losses, a 20 percent increase in reported losses compared to the same time frame in 2020.

With those numbers in mind, it’s essential that you understand the myriad of strategies hackers use to get into your networks and wreak havoc. Here are some of the most common cyberattack vectors, along with a brief explanation of how they work.

1. The menace of malware

With 2.5 billion malware attacks in just six months, the concern is no longer if but when you’ll face an attack. Malware is a malicious application that is typically designed to provide a hacker with persistent access to a network. Some malware attacks steal credentials or other valuable data, while others want to disrupt your organization. Similar to ransomware, a malware variant, this type of cyberattack often incorporates extortion, e.g., encrypting files and demanding a ransom in exchange for the decryption key. Given the number of attacks, it’s worth considering a Cybersecurity Workshop, a one-on-one review to help you assess your security posture and prepare a secure malware cyber defense.

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2. Phishing for information

A form of social engineering, phishing attacks try to fake out unsuspecting victims by posing as a trusted contact or organization. The attack’s goal is usually to get that person to hand over high-value information like passwords, credit card numbers, and confidential company files. Unfortunately, phishing attacks can be hard to spot, so they are also among the most common cyberattacks. That’s why it’s worth looking at Cybersecurity Awareness Training, so your people know what to look for in a social engineering scheme.

3. Distributed DDoS disruptions

In a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, an attacker overwhelms your target server with traffic, attempting to disrupt and potentially crash the target. Most sophisticated firewalls can detect and respond to traditional DDoS attacks, while distributed DDoS attacks leverage multiple compromised devices to swarm the target with unwanted traffic. Learn more about how you can help prevent a DDoS attack and recover faster in our VP of Enterprise Risk Management’s blog.

4. SQL injection incidents

SQL ranks near or at the top of database management systems in terms of popularity. With so many SQL systems out there, hackers have found another ripe target. Typically using an HTML form on a webpage, a successful SQL injection attack can exploit any form data permissions that haven’t been set correctly. That makes it possible for a hacker to execute queries that create, modify, or delete the data stored in the database.

5. Man-in-the-middle attacks

In a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, a hacker intercepts a communication between two parties as an entry point for spying, stealing personal information or credentials, or causing a disruption in some other way. With today’s end-to-end encryption capabilities, MITM attacks have become far less of a nuisance.

6. Zero-Day vulnerabilities

A zero-day attack occurs when a hacker discovers a vulnerability in a widely-used application or operating system. The hacker then targets organizations using the software to exploit the vulnerability before a patch becomes available.

7. Digging in via DNS tunneling

In this sophisticated attack vector, the intent is to provide hackers with persistent access to a specific target. DNS tunneling has a greater chance of success when going after organizations that fail to monitor DNS traffic for malicious activity. That lack of monitoring lets the attacker insert or “tunnel” malware into DNS queries sent from the client to the server, opening a persistent channel that most firewalls can’t detect. An effective Monitoring and Alerting service can go a long way toward preventing successful DNS tunneling attacks.

8. Business email compromise trickery

A business email compromise (BEC) attack targets specific individuals in your organization, usually a high-level employee that has the authority to execute financial transactions. The objective is to trick the victim into transferring money into an account owned by the hacker. BEC attacks require research and planning—gathering information about your employees, customers, business partners, and other stakeholders—that can be leveraged to convince the target to hand over the money. BEC attacks can be among the costliest forms of cyberattack.

Strengthen your defenses

With so many threats, solving the cybersecurity equation isn’t easy. You may want to begin with CyberDefense Suite that includes the expert help to put the resources and sophisticated tools in place to monitor risks and malicious activity before they threaten your business.

I hope you found this information helpful. As always, contact us any time—we’re always happy to help.

Until next time,


Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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