Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent

Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent. With the ever growing digital transformation, cyber attacks are now increasingly common. They are now more sophisticated and difficult to detect and resolve. Companies globally face different security threats as hackers try to steal or compromise crucial data and information.

Currently, there are lots of cyber attacks targeting businesses and also individuals. Mostly, they seek to compromise data and business networks for financial gain and other malicious purposes. This article discusses the most common types of cyber attacks and how to prevent them. 

Shall we start with Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent. Please Read on!

Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent

1. Phishing

Phishing is a type of cyber attack whereby attackers use social engineering. Especially through emails, to hand over vital information. Hackers send phishing emails with links resembling those from legitimate organizations; such as banks, payment merchants, utility companies, tax departments, or other trusted entities. This attack combines technical trickery and engineering to gain access to personal information.

There are three types of phishing:

  • Pharming.
  • Whaling.
  • Spear phishing.

Pharming uses a DNS cache to obtain user credentials. While whaling targets senior company executives and stakeholders. Following is spear phishing attacks, that target specific individuals at specific companies.

How to Prevent Phishing

You can prevent phishing in an organization through social engineering simulations and training. By performing targeted attacks on employees and managers, you can identify points of weakness that are likely to be targeted by malicious attackers. Afterwards, you can train them to identify instances of phishing emails and links to suspicious websites.

2. Malware

Malware is a form of attack whereby hackers use applications to perform malicious attacks. In nutshell, it is a software designed to gain access to a computer system and stay there. Often, malware is embedded in business networks to obtain crucial user data and information. Malware is diverse and can be designed for various purposes. Some are designed to obtain data, while others can disrupt an entire system.

In addition, malware attacks are distributed via email links. While others are embedded in company networks. Personal devices are also prime malware targets. When embedded in a network, the malware can provide the attacker with a remote control or steal sensitive data. After that, it can also investigate the infected network or even spam other unsuspecting targets from the infected machine.

How to Prevent Malware Attacks

There are special software tools for detecting malware. You can rely on software tools to secure your networks from malware. These tools scan your networks for any intrusion and instantly resolve the threat. You can also use next-gen firewalls to filter traffic into your networks. Antivirus and anti spam gateways also help prevent malware from entering your computer systems.

3. Ransomware

Following on the list of Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent  is Ransomware. Another form of malware attack, where malicious software attacks your computer system and encrypts valuable data for ransom. It blocks access to your computer system. Also it makes it impossible to use your databases, files, or applications. Some ransomware attacks spread rapidly. They cause downtime in the entire organization, until you pay a ransom. Often, the ransom is a huge amount of money, depending on the value of the data held. Companies all over the world lose billions of dollars to ransomware.

Mostly, ransomware attacks target large enterprises with huge volumes of data. Personal devices can also be held ransomware, prompting you to pay some ransom in order to regain full access. You can lose your data files forever if you fail to pay the demanded ransomware.

How to Prevent Ransomware

Since ransomware makes data unusable, it’s best to perform regular backups. In the event of a ransomware attack, you can restore the backup data. Always store data backups on external devices or in the cloud. Once attacked, you can wipe your device and restore backed data. Besides, it’s essential to secure data backups, that are inaccessible for encryption or deletion.

4. DDoS Attack

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is a form of attack whereby the attacker disrupts normal traffic of a targeted server or network. This overwhelms the server and prevents users from accessing connected sites or applications.

There are varying reasons why attackers perform DDoS attacks. Some want to take down the server. Simply to create business downtime for a competing business. Others perform DDoS for hacktivism to express criticism of a big business or government entity. Recently, DDoS attackers have turned to extortion, demanding payment to stop the attack.

How to Prevent DDoS

To prevent DDoS, install the best firewall and intrusion detection systems. They scan traffic in your network and filter any unwanted or malicious traffic. You can also implement server monitoring tools. They help you detect any traffic anomalies within your network. With real time monitoring, you can detect issues and resolve them quickly, before they affect your server performance.

5. Man in the Middle Attack

Next on our list of Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent is man in the middle (MITM). Form of attack, where hackers hijack a two party transaction. They position themselves between two people, computers, or networks and spy or manipulate information between the two parties. The attacker can impersonate one party, making the exchange appear as normal.

The primary goal of this form of attack is to steal personally identifiable information (PII) such as account details, credit card numbers, or login credentials. Mostly, it’s targeted at ecommerce sites, SaaS businesses, health providers and financial applications.

How to Prevent Man in the Middle Attack

MITM attacks occur when you use unsecure internet connections. To prevent them, avoid public Wifi connections and any connections without password protection. If you communicate over the internet, ensure your channel has secure communication protocols. Those protocols can be: HTTPS and TLS. Having secure communication protocols prevents interception of site traffic. Also, it blocks the decryption of sensitive data.

6. Insider Attacks

An insider attack happens, when users with legitimate access to company systems use the privilege to harm your business. An insider can be a current user or a previous employee with access to the organization’s systems. Insider attacks are difficult to detect and, thus, highly dangerous.

The attacks know all defence mechanisms as well as gaps for exploitation. Also, they know where sensitive data is and how to compromise it, without detection. Some insider attackers coordinate with third parties to steal sensitive company information.

How to Prevent Insider Attacks

The best way to prevent insider attacks is through identity and access management. With a proper approach to user identity and access, you can identify user activity within your system.

You can also implement the principle of least privilege. This is where you provide only the necessary authorization to perform the required functions. Also, you can implement the Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), to eliminate implicit trust in your business systems.

7. SQL Injection

Next there is an SQL Injection. Another form of attack, in which an SQL query is inserted into an application database. Then, SQL injections work by manipulating the SQL code. The injection can read data or modify the database, depending on the attacker’s needs. Moreover, it can also issue commands or perform database administration operations.

Mostly, SQL injections target large websites or social media platforms. Organizations using large databases such as SQL Server, Oracle, or MySQL are prime targets for this form of attack.

How to Prevent SQL Injection Attacks

The best way to prevent SQL injection attacks is by creating code that can identify illegitimate user inputs. You can also employ a web application firewall to remove malicious SQL queries.

8. Trojan

Afterwards there is trojan. Also a malicious software, that looks like a legitimate one. Basically it performs all sorts of actions. For example stealing data to compromising your computer systems. Ideally, a trojan is a software or file designed to trick you. Mostly, trojans open the entry to your system.

Basically, when attacked by a trojan, you may encounter poor device performance or general strange behaviour. Above all, you may encounter spam and pop up interruptions.

How to Prevent Trojan Attacks

To prevent trojans, always scrutinize each application within your system. If you are using a mobile device or PC, check your system manager for any running applications. You should only allow the installation of secure apps. Check your app permissions to ensure you are not allowing malicious apps to access your data.

9. DNS Spoofing

Another cyber attack is called a DNS cache poisoning. Altogether an attack, where attackers alter DNS records to redirect traffic from legitimate websites to fraudulent ones. Basically, DNS Spoofing is you getting the wrong IP address of the requested site from the DNS server. In this instance, you are redirected to a malicious website, rather than the intended one.

How to Prevent DNS Spoofing

Primarily, DNS spoofing affects both user devices and DNS servers. Secondly, it is difficult to detect. You can prevent DNS spoofing by using DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) to authenticate DNS entries. These extensions add a layer of security to the DNS resolution process.  As a result, you can also rely on DNS monitoring tools. They help to detect anomalies in your servers. Also, they verify if your connection is secure. For instance, Google Chrome provides a symbol showing whether you are connecting to a secure website or not.

10. Business Email Compromise

Another example of a cyber attack is Business Email Compromise (BEC). Certainly, a sophisticated scam targeting businesses and individuals, who transact large amounts of money. Criminals send hidden messages, that look like, they are sent from legitimate sources.  Another key point, the email sender poses as someone the recipient should trust; such as a vendor, boss, or colleague. They then request a payment action such as a change of bank details or making a wire transfer.

Most BEC attacks use social engineering and impersonation to trick the recipient. Others use domain spoofing and are often difficult to detect.

How to Prevent Business Email Compromise

The best way to prevent BEC attacks is by implementing high end security controls. Especially, where information is exchanged. Email recipients should confirm from the sender manually and determine if the requests are legitimate. Payments should be authorized by multiple parties to avoid being scammed.

11. Email Account Compromise

Email account compromise (EAC) is almost similar to BEC. In this case, the attacker gains control of a legitimate account. The attacker doesn’t have to pose as someone else. As they have full access to your email and, most probably, previous conversations.

In turn, attackers use various tactics to access your email accounts. These include phishing, password cracking, saved passwords in browsers, malware, and more. Once the attacker has access to your email, they have access to all forms of information. These include transactions, calendars, key meetings, invoice details, file shares, etc.  After that, they then create convincing messages, using the information gained. Moreover, they can redirect payrolls, bank account details, invoices, or even use the information for blackmail.

How to Prevent Email Account Compromise

To prevent EAC, you need to heighten email security. So, implement email security practices like multi factor authentication, phishing protection, by using a secure password manager, etc. Also, never log into your email using public devices or public WIFI. Also, train your staff on best email security practices to avoid falling victim as well.

12. Zero Day Attack

Consequently, there is a  zero day attack. This is where a hacker exploits a vulnerability in software, before the vendor or developer can address it. So, hackers are often exploring vulnerabilities in software tools. Sometimes, they find vulnerable spots before the developers can. The hackers release malware to exploit the vulnerability, before the developers patch the flaws.

How to Prevent Zero Day Attack

You can prevent zero day attacks through vulnerability scanning and penetration testing. There are lots of vulnerability scanning solutions that can scan applications. In addition they conduct code reviews to find new vulnerabilities.

Another great way to prevent zero day attacks is through patch management. Always deploy patches immediately after discovering new vulnerabilities.

13. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack

Cross site scripting (XSS) is a common attack whereby a malicious code is injected into vulnerable web applications. Consequently, the malicious code targets the website or web application’s content. The victim’s browser has no way of identifying the malicious scripts and goes on to execute them. Once executed, they can access any cookies, sensitive information, or sensitive information regarding the site.

Mostly, attackers use XSS to phish for user credentials, rewrite content, or spread malware. Unlike other forms of attacks, XSS attacks target users rather than the web application itself.

How to Prevent XSS Attacks

To minimize XSS attacks, it’s best to scan any web application for vulnerabilities. If you find any vulnerable spots, patch them immediately. In addition, ensure that any website that accepts user input also filters out code inputs such as JavaScript and HTML.

14. Brute Force Attack

Equally, a brute force attack is a method, where hackers guess a combination of usernames and passwords to gain access to computer systems. It is a trial and error method, where the hacker tries to crack login credentials, passwords, and encryption keys. While it’s a tedious process with low chances of access, it has proved to have a high success rate. The term “brute force” originates from the attacker’s numerous efforts and combinations to find the right login information.

So, there are various approaches to brute force attacks. Some hackers use scripts and applications as brute-force tools. These tools can try lots of password combinations in an effort to bypass the authentication process. In other hacking attempts, the attacker tests the password against a known individual username. The motive behind brute force attacks, is to gain access to personal information and perform financial fraud.

How to Prevent Brute Force Attacks

Well, it’s possible to prevent brute force attacks by a combination of strategies. Firstly, increase password complexity. Having a complicated password makes it difficult for attackers to decrypt. Implementing a password policy and using a password manager minimizes the attacker’s chance of gaining access to your systems. Secondly, implement multifactor authentication, encryption and password hashing.

15. URL Interpretation Attack

Next on the list of Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent is URL interpretation attack.  Well, it involves the attacker altering the URL contents in the browser’s location bar. By manipulating URL parts, the hacker can make the web server deliver fraudulent web pages. By altering the URL, attackers can redirect you to an untrusted external site.

How to Prevent a URL Interpretation Attack

It is possible to prevent a URL interpretation attack using a web application firewall. In nutshell, the firewall acts as the first line of defence against malicious attacks. Also, you can use an automated website scanner to detect and remove any active infections on your website.

16. Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is a form of cyber attack involving the unauthorized use of people’s devices to mine or steal cryptocurrency. In this case, hackers hijack devices, such as servers, PCs, cloud infrastructure, to mine for crypto coins. The crypto jacking code works in the background without raising the victim’s suspicion.

The only noticeable thing is slow system performance, overheating, excessive power consumption, etc. This process enables crypto miners to slash mining overheads by stealing compute and energy resources.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking

Generally, it’s difficult to detect crypto jacking, especially when running large servers. However, it should cause alarm when you experience unusually low performance, overheating, battery draining fast, or unusual spikes in power consumption.

To prevent this form of attack, you can block Javascript. Most crypto hackers use JavaScript to gain access to your device’s computing environment. Also, perform frequent antivirus scans on your system to remove unwanted scripts. 

17. IoT Based Attack

An IoT attack is where attackers break into IoT devices. They compromise data and networks to steal information. Most IoT devices do not have built in security solutions to counter cyber threats. In addition, they are mostly designed to perform simple tasks and are highly vulnerable to attacks.

How to Prevent IoT Threats

The best way to prevent IoT attacks is to have integrated security solutions. Ideally, your IoT device should have integrated solutions for visibility and seamless protection across the entire network infrastructure.

18. Drive-by Attacks

Also known as a drive-by download attack. Another malicious script, that causes a program to download and install itself on a user’s device without permission. Often, drive by download attacks occur when users navigate and browse compromised web pages. Furthermore, they use malicious software to identify vulnerabilities in web browsers, web apps, and devices.

Really, Drive-by attacks are intended to embed malware on user devices, steal information, or spy on networks. Some malicious software downloads  happen without user authorization. Whilst others are the authorized ones, without knowing the full implications.

How to Prevent Drive-By Attack

You can prevent drive-by attacks by navigating to secure websites only. Also, you can prevent unwanted downloads by blocking automatic downloads. Before allowing any download, you should check it to ensure it’s what you intended to download. Once an app installs in your system, open and check its contents immediately.

19. Eavesdropping Attack

Following another example of cyber attack is an Eavesdropping attack. Generally it occurs when an attack intercepts data in transit between two devices. Also known as snooping or sniffing. Targets unsecured network communications. Traffic that’s not secured or encrypted is easily hacked and can lead to compromised data.

An attacker can eavesdrop on data transfers, stealing sensitive financial and business information. Often, these attacks are difficult to detect as networks seem to operate normally. The attack installs network monitoring software between the client and server to reroute traffic.

How to Prevent Eavesdropping Attack

You can prevent eavesdropping attacks by securing your network connection. Truly, it is best to encrypt data in transit to make it unusable unless decrypted by the receiver. Also, you can implement network monitoring tools to identify and patch any vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

20. Botnet

Lastly on our list is a Botnet. Last cyber attack, where a large group of multiple network connected devices infected with bots and are controlled by a single device. Hackers use these devices to perform a string of attacks such as server crashing, malware distribution, and data theft. Botnets increase the hacker’s ability to perform large scale attacks at once.

How to Prevent Botnets

To prevent botnets, regain control of compromised devices. Disable access to the central server that acts as the source of malware.

Thank you for reading Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent. We shall conclude. 

Top 20 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks & How to Prevent- Conclusion

The above cyber attacks can affect any individual or business. Therefore, you should have proper cyber security measures to keep hackers at bay. Preventing cyber attacks is a proactive process requiring proper training, the right tools, and taking a security centered approach.  A comprehensive security approach is necessary to secure crucial data and business assets.

For more cybersecurity tips like these, navigate to read our blog over here!

Avatar for Dennis Muvaa
Dennis Muvaa

Dennis is an expert content writer and SEO strategist in cloud technologies such as AWS, Azure, and GCP. He's also experienced in cybersecurity, big data, and AI.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x