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  • ACE Team

7 Types of Cyber Security Threats

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Professionals in cyber security are constantly defending computer systems against various types of cyber threats. Every day, cyber-attacks target businesses and private systems, and the variety of attacks has grown rapidly. Former Cisco CEO John Chambers stated, "There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that do not yet know they have been hacked."

There are numerous reasons for cyber attacks. The first is money. Cyber attackers may take a system offline and demand payment to reactivate it. Ransomware, a type of attack that demands payment to restore services, is more sophisticated than ever.

Individuals are also targets of cyber attacks, often because they store personal information on their mobile phones and use insecure public networks.

Tracking evolving and increasing cyber-attacks is key to better cyber security. As cyber security professionals work to increase their knowledge of threats and cyber security information, earning an online cyber security master’s degree can be invaluable.

What Is a Cyber Security Threat?

A cyber security threat is any potentially malicious attack that attempts to gain unauthorized access to data, disrupt digital operations, or damage information. Corporate spies, hacktivists, terrorist groups, hostile nation-states, criminal organizations, lone hackers, and disgruntled employees are all possible sources of cyber threats.

Several high-profile cyber attacks in recent years have resulted in the exposure of sensitive data. For example, the Equifax data breach in 2017 exposed the personal information of approximately 143 million consumers, including birth dates, addresses, and Social Security numbers. In 2018, Marriott International disclosed that hackers gained access to its servers and stole the personal information of approximately 500 million customers. In both cases, the organization's failure to implement, test, and retest technical safeguards such as encryption, authentication, firewall, and authorization enabled the cyber security threat.

Cyber attackers can use sensitive data from an individual or a company to steal information or gain access to financial accounts, among other potentially damaging actions, which is why cyber security professionals are critical for protecting private data.

7 Types of Cyber Security Threats

Cyber security professionals should have an in-depth understanding of the following types of cyber security threats.

1 - Malware

Malware is defined as malicious software, which includes spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. Malware is activated when a user clicks on a malicious link or attachment, which causes dangerous software to be installed. According to Cisco, once activated, malware can:

  • Access to critical network components is restricted (ransomware)

  • Install additional malicious software.

  • Obtain information covertly by transmitting data from the hard drive (spyware)

  • Disrupt individual components, rendering the system inoperable.

2 - Emotet

Emotet is described by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as "an advanced, modular banking Trojan that primarily functions as a downloader or dropper of other banking Trojans." Emotet remains among the most expensive and destructive malware."

3 - Denial of Service

A denial of service (DoS) attack is a type of cyber attack that overloads a computer or network, rendering it unable to respond to requests. A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack accomplishes the same thing, but the attack originates on a computer network. A flood attack is frequently used by cyber attackers to disrupt the "handshake" process and carry out a DoS. Several other techniques may be used, and some cyber attackers may use the time that a network is down to launch additional attacks. According to Jeff Melnick of Netwrix, an information technology security software company, a botnet is a type of DDoS in which millions of systems can be infected with malware and controlled by a hacker. Botnets, also known as zombie systems, attack and overwhelm a target's processing capabilities.

4 - Man in the Middle

When hackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction, this is known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. According to Cisco, after disrupting traffic, they can filter and steal data. MITM attacks are common when a visitor connects to an unsecured public Wi-Fi network. Attackers place themselves between the visitor and the network, then use malware to install software and steal data.

5 - Phishing

Phishing attacks use forged communication, such as an email, to trick the recipient into opening it and following the instructions contained within, such as providing a credit card number. According to Cisco, the goal is to "steal sensitive data such as credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim's machine."

6 - SQL Injection

A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection is a type of cyber attack that occurs when malicious code is inserted into a SQL server. When a server is infected, it releases data. Entering the malicious code into a vulnerable website search box can be as simple as that.

7- Password Attacks

A cyber attacker can gain access to a wealth of information with the right password. Data Insider defines social engineering as "a strategy cyber attackers use that relies heavily on human interaction and frequently involves tricking people into breaking standard security practices." Accessing a password database or guessing a password are two other types of password attacks.

Evolution of Cyber Security

Cyber security practices continue to evolve as the internet and digitally dependent operations develop and change. According to Secureworks, people who study cyber security are turning more of their attention to the two areas in the following sections.

The Internet of Things

Individual devices that connect to the internet or other networks provide hackers with an entry point. According to Cytelligence, in 2019, hackers targeted smart home and internet of things (IoT) devices such as smart TVs, voice assistants, connected baby monitors, and cellphones more frequently. Hackers who successfully compromise a connected home gain access not only to users' Wi-Fi credentials, but also to their data, such as medical records, bank statements, and website login information.

The Explosion of Data

Data storage on personal devices such as laptops and cellphones makes it easier for cyber attackers to gain access to a network via a personal device. Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, for example, warns in his May 2019 book Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age of widespread exposure of individuals' personal information, which has become increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

As a result, businesses and government agencies require the highest level of cyber security to protect their data and operations. Understanding how to respond to the most recent evolving cyber threats is critical for cyber security professionals.

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