Unit 4 – Question 3

There are different types of cyber, among which three most common types of cyber – attacks should be aware of include: malware, phishing and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

  1. Malware

The term “malware” encompasses various types of attacks including spyware, viruses, and worms. Malware uses a vulnerability to breach a network when a user clicks a “planted” dangerous link or email attachment, which is used to install malicious software inside the system.

Malware and malicious files inside a computer system can:

  • Deny access to the critical components of the network
  • Obtain information by retrieving data from the hard drive
  • Disrupt the system or even render it inoperable

Malware is so common that there is a large variety of modus operandi. The most common types being:

  • Viruses—these infect applications attaching themselves to the initialization sequence. The virus replicates itself, infecting other code in the computer system. Viruses can also attach themselves to executable code or associate themselves with a file by creating a virus file with the same name but with an .exe extension, thus creating a decoy which carries the virus.
  • Trojans—a program hiding inside a useful program with malicious purposes. Unlike viruses, a trojan doesn’t replicate itself and it is commonly used to establish a backdoor to be exploited by attackers.
  • Worms—unlike viruses, they don’t attack the host, being self-contained programs that propagate across networks and computers. Worms are often installed through email attachments, sending a copy of themselves to every contact in the infected computer email list. They are commonly used to overload an email server and achieve a denial-of-service attack.
  • Ransomware—a type of malware that denies access to the victim data, threatening to publish or delete it unless a ransom is paid. Advanced ransomware uses cryptoviral extortion, encrypting the victim’s data so that it is impossible to decrypt without the decryption key.
  • Spyware—a type of program installed to collect information about users, their systems or browsing habits, sending the data to a remote user. The attacker can then use the information for blackmailing purposes or download and install other malicious programs from the web.
  1. Phishing

Phishing attacks are extremely common and involve sending mass amounts of fraudulent emails to unsuspecting users, disguised as coming from a reliable source. The fraudulent emails often have the appearance of being legitimate, but link the recipient to a malicious file or script designed to grant attackers access to your device to control it or gather recon, install malicious scripts/files, or to extract data such as user information, financial info, and more.

Phishing attacks can also take place via social networks and other online communities, via direct messages from other users with a hidden intent. Phishers often leverage social engineering and other public information sources to collect info about your work, interests, and activities—giving attackers an edge in convincing you they’re not who they say.

There are several different types of phishing attacks, including:

  • Spear Phishing—targeted attacks directed at specific companies and/or individuals.
  • Whaling—attacks targeting senior executives and stakeholders within an organization.
  • Pharming—leverages DNS cache poisoning to capture user credentials through a fake login landing page.

Phishing attacks can also take place via phone call (voice phishing) and via text message (SMS phishing). This post highlights additional details about phishing attacks—how to spot them and how to prevent them.

  1. Denial-of-Service (DOS) Attack

DoS attacks work by flooding systems, servers, and/or networks with traffic to overload resources and bandwidth. The result is rendering the system unable to process and fulfill legitimate requests. In addition to denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, there are also distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

DoS attacks saturate a system’s resources with the goal of impeding response to service requests. On the other hand, a DDoS attack is launched from several infected host machines with the goal of achieving service denial and taking a system offline, thus paving the way for another attack to enter the network/environment.

The most common types of DoS and DDoS attacks are the TCP SYN flood attack, teardrop attack, smurf attack, ping-of-death attack, and botnets.


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