A cyber attack is an attempt to destroy, expose, alter, disable, steal or gain unauthorized access to any computer or computer network.  It’s an offensive maneuver that targets computer networks, computer information systems, electronic infrastructures, or personal computer devices. Cyber attacks can be employed by nation-states, individuals, groups, society or organizations, or an anonymous source.

What Are The Different Kinds of Cyber Attacks?

Beginning in the late 1980s, cyber attacks have evolved several times to use innovations in information technology to commit cyber crime.  The World Economic Forum stated in 2018 that cyber attacks are increasing and are developing faster than our ability to deal with them.

Passive Vs. Active

A cyber attack can be distinguished as either passive or active. Simple data theft is an example of a passive attack, as a hostile actor is attempting to acquire or make use of sensitive information without that theft being detected. An active attack, meanwhile, attempts to alter system resources or directly affect operations – such as a hacker changing the passwords in order to hold a database or operating system ransom.

Inside Vs. Outside

It can also be difficult to identify the party responsible for a cyber attack, as these can be further distinguished as inside or outside attacks. A majority of people are probably most familiar with outside attacks. These attacks are unauthorized or illegitimate uses of a cyber system by a hostile actor who penetrated the system’s security protocols. As alluded to earlier, these antagonists can be amateur Internet pranksters, international terrorists, or even agents of a hostile foreign government.

Outside attacks are seen as the most dangerous and intrusive, however, inside attacks can often be just as, or even more dangerous. The reason for this is because inside attacks can be more difficult to detect since they’re initiated by a trusted entity who can simply bypass security protocols, rather than make the difficult effort to penetrate them.

A good example of an inside attack would be the 2014-15 data breach suffered by Anthem Blue Cross. 18,000 of its Medicare members saw their sensitive data, under the care and storage of Anthem Blue Cross, to be stolen or otherwise compromised. It was later found that the culprit for the data theft was a rogue employee of Anthem.

An organization should endeavor to take the necessary steps to detect, classify and manage security incidents. The first logical step is to set up an incident response plan and eventually a computer emergency response team. Observe IT is a form of threat management software that can assist with data security detection and management, as they regularly and carefully monitor any data anomalies that might indicate the possibility of a potential threat before any hostile actors can take advantage of it.

Cyber Warfare  

This type of Cyber warfare utilizes techniques which involve attacking and defending computer and network information, often through a prolonged cyber campaign or a series of related campaigns.

Cyber Terrorism

Cyber terrorism is the use of network tools to shut down vital national infrastructures such as energy, communications, transportation systems, or any other governmental operation in order to coerce or intimidate a government or civil population. Basically, cyber terrorists attack persons or property trying to cause enough harm to generate fear.

The final result is the same. Damage is done to critical infrastructures and computer systems. There are three main types of cyber attacks:

  1. Spectacularity Attack – The goal of this attack is to create negative publicity achieved through direct economic losses of income or availability of the electronic system.
  2. Vulnerability Attacks – These attacks are an attempt to expose how vulnerable a government or corporation is to attack. This can be achieved by a simple defacement of a webpage, a disruption of service, or by any other means that call into question the authenticity or integrity of data.
  3. Professional Hacker Attack Professional hackers who are working on their own or employed by a foreign government or military will find computer systems with vulnerabilities. Once found, they can infect network systems with malicious code and then remotely control the system. Cyber terrorists are hackers with a political agenda. Their attacks can impact political systems through their destructive capabilities. 

No one plans on becoming a victim to a cyber attack. These attacks are not limited to large corporations or government organizations; they can happen to the average citizen. It’s important to make sure that you’ve taken the necessary precautions to protect yourself from these attacks.

A Short Video About Cyber Attacks

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