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Top 20 Common Types of Cyber Attacks in 2024

The digital domain has brought forward a wave of advancement in the world. Calculations and operations are faster than ever before, with people completing day-to-day tasks with the ease of a click. However, this advancement also has its dark side – Cyber attacks.

Threat actors are coming up with new innovative ways in their efforts to intrude into a company’s system and then steal valuable information from them. The 493.33 Million ransomware attacks carried out back in 2022 suggest the significance of cyber attacks and their increasing rate. These attacks resulted in data breaches with an average cost of $4.35 Million.

New metrics are presented on Cyber attacks every year, with the more recent reports smashing the data from the last ones. To fight this cyber ailment, you must first understand the many types of cyber-attacks that are being carried out today.

So, let’s discuss the top 20 common types of cyber attacks in 2024 and elaborate on how you can prevent them.

Let’s dive right in!

What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack is a malicious action that is carried out by any individual or entity to access an information system and cause harm to it. 

A person trying to carry out a cyber attack is often termed a ‘hacker’. While some attacks on a system are carried out for fun by rookie hackers, all of them have the potential to harm a company significantly. 

Two major forms of cyber attacks are carried out:

  • Financially Motivated Attacks: A majority of cyber attacks are financially motivated, with the hacker hoping to extract company secrets or data and sell them on the dark net.

  • Cyber Warfare: Cyber attacks have also been used to derail rival companies or even nations by harming their IT infrastructure or stealing sensitive data. This type of cyberattack is often carried out by a team of hackers and is termed cyber warfare.

Cyber attacks can be damaging to any company. A successful attack on a company can cause data breaches, misconfigurations, or even a disruption of the supply chain. Such attacks can not only financially damage a company but also affect the amount of trust their customers have in them.

In some cases, lawsuits are filed against the victim company as well for their failures in safeguarding sensitive information.

The Rise of Cyber Attacks

A rise in cyber attacks has been evident to everyone in recent years. With more companies digitalizing themselves, the attack surface has increased for cyber attackers to target and exploit.

During the pandemic itself, companies moved to the Internet to continue offering their services to their clients. This sudden migration was also introduced to continued cyber attacks that mainly included malware and ransomware attacks. The trend that started back in 2020 has continued to 2021, which saw a 50% increase in weekly cyber attacks.

With the inception of IoT devices and Cloud computing, attackers now have new grounds that they can target to harm a company. Exponentially contributing to the rise of cyber attacks.

Top 20 Common Types of Cyber Attacks in 2023 & How to Prevent Them

Check out the top 20 common types of cyber attacks that are being used to harm companies around the world. We have also included information on how to prevent these cyber attacks as well.

1. DDoS Attacks:

A distributed denial of service attack is used to overload a system and make it unable to respond to service requests. These are very common types of cyber attacks on websites. The attackers use multiple malware-affected devices to access the victim’s site and deem it unusable for others to access. The attack is termed denial of service for its act of not allowing the victim site to offer its services while the attack is ongoing.

DDoS attacks cannot access a system to steal data. They can only bring the system to a standstill. Through DDoS attacks, fake requests are made to the site. As a site, it has to respond to these requests one by one, eventually using up all its resources. With no more resources to use up, the site eventually closes its services.

Denial of service attacks are often used as a precursor before the actual attack is carried out, as the system is forced to go offline. This creates a lot of vulnerabilities, making it easy to infiltrate the system using other attack modes.

How To Prevent DDoS Attacks?

  • You can use traffic analysis software to detect any malicious traffic on your network.

  • Analyzing signs such as delayed website response or a website going down can help mitigate the attack faster.

  • Outsourcing DDoS prevention to cloud security platforms such as CloudDefense.AI

2. Malware Attacks:

Malware attacks mainly consist of legitimate-looking applications or links that are created with malicious coding. Popular types of malware attacks include Trojan horses, worms, adware, etc. Malware attacks are designed to fool a person into thinking that the malicious application or link they are interacting with is legit. Once into the network, they then move forward to captivate the system and execute the next course of action with respect to the attacker’s intent.

How To Prevent Malware Attacks?

  • Getting the services of cybersecurity services that specialize in malware prevention.

  • Using Firewalls to protect from malware infections.

  • Staying away from clicking malicious links and not visiting any malicious websites.

3. Phishing Attacks:

Phishing attacks are one of the most common cyber attacks today. These are malicious links that are attached to fake emails and sent to a user to trick them into clicking it. Once the user clicks it, the attacker manages to steal their credentials or even install malware into the user’s system.

How To Prevent Phishing Attacks?

  • Proofreading every received email. Phishing Emails often have many errors in the text or other information. 

  • Do not click on the email attachment if the email seems shady.

  • Using Anti-phishing software to detect phishing attacks.

4. MITM Attacks:

Man-in-the-middle attacks

Man-in-the-middle attacks, or MITMs, are also known as eavesdropping attacks. Using this type of cyberattack, an individual can intercept an unencrypted communication between two parties and also hijack it. This can cause the hacker to steal sensitive information and use it for their benefit.

How To Prevent MITM Attacks?

  • Using Cloud-based services that provide end-to-end encryption can help to prevent a Man-In-The-Middle Attack.

  • Refraining from using public WiFi.

5. Password Attacks:

Passwords are the only key required to access a user’s account; therefore, a hacker always desires to acquire them. Hackers try to access a password by infiltrating the network and intercepting any unencrypted passwords on it.

Other methods are involved, such as socially engineered mail or applications that require users to input their passwords or by simply cracking a weak password set by the user.

How To Prevent Password Attacks?

  • Use a strong password that has a combination of upper-case and lower-case alphabets, numbers, and symbols.

  • Using different passwords on different platforms.

  • Refrain from disclosing passwords in public.

6. Spear-Phishing Attacks:

A targeted phishing attack on specific individuals working in a company. Social engineering methods are applied to extract the password from the user in this type of attack.

How To Prevent Spear-Phishing Attacks?

  • Educating and training employees to identify phishing attempts.

  • Proofreading emails before interacting with any documents or links.

7. DNS Tunneling and DNS Spoofing:

Domain Name System Tunneling is used by an attacker to bypass all security features in a system to establish communication between the hacker and a remote server. DNS Spoofing is done when the attacker carries out a manipulation of the DNS records on a website and controls the traffic on it.

How To Prevent DNS Tunneling and DNS Spoofing?

  • Use DNS security extensions (DNSSEC).

  • Use DNS filtering tools to filter all DNS queries.

  • Isolate your DNS server from the public internet and monitor the traffic on it for any fraudulent activity.

8. Ransomware:

Ransomware is malicious software that attackers use to control a system and hold it hostage. The attacker then proceeds to demand a ransom from the owner of the system to give it back to them. Ransomware gets into a system through the user downloading it from a malicious website or an email. Ransomware is often used to target multiple devices or to attack the main server to halt the company’s operations.

How To Prevent Ransomware?

  • A common method is to use ransomware prevention software.

  • Use a Firewall.

  • Creating awareness between employees to identify ransomware.

9. IoT-Based Attacks:

IoTs are often targeted by attackers either to steal data or to gain access to the network that the device is connected to. IoT devices include security cameras, smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, etc.

If an attacker manages to control these devices, they can choose to extract data or even cause harm through the devices. IoT attacks are really common as IoT devices are considered to be some of the most vulnerable points of a network.

How To Prevent IoT-based Attacks?

  • Setting up a strong username and password.

  • Implement network security to reduce network vulnerability. Disconnect connectivity options such as Bluetooth when the device is not being used. This helps to defend company networks. 

10. Spamming:

Spamming methods are used to flood a company’s email with illegitimate emails and try to carry out a phishing attack on them.

How To Prevent Spamming?

  • To prevent spam in emails, you can use a spam filter.

  • Do not give out your email on public domains.

  • Report all fraudulent emails.

  • Apply CAPTCHA on your site to prevent spamming attacks.

11. SQL Injection Attacks:

Database-driven websites are often targeted by Standard Query Language (SQL) attacks. The hacker injects a malicious SQL code in the website’s search box to reveal sensitive data. The exploitation allows the attacker to read, delete, or modify the tables in a database, causing a loss of data for the company.

How To Prevent SQL Injection Attacks?

  • Use whitelisting to block any user inputs that can affect the website.

  • Use ORM libraries to prevent SQL Injection.

12. Brute Force Attacks:

Brute force attacks are a very simple method that hackers adopt. They constantly try to guess the password protecting an account to get unauthorized access. This is fairly easy to penetrate if very weak passwords are used.

How To Prevent Brute Force Attacks?

  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication tools.

  • Set up a strong password for your account.

  • Use Intruder-detection security software to detect unauthorized access.

13. Watering Hole Attacks:

This is a very innovative cyber attack in which hackers target websites that are used by an individual or group of individuals in a company. Once they hack the website, they can easily inject malicious software into the systems of users accessing it.

Watering hole attacks also allow cyber attackers to remotely access a victim’s system and eventually access a company’s network.

How To Prevent Watering Hole Attacks?

  • Set up a Web Application Firewall to protect from compromised websites.

  • Use an Antivirus software.

  • Use a malware detection tool for your system.

14. Cryptojacking:

Cyprojacking is derived from the terms cryptocurrency and hijacking. Victims of these attacks often have their computers used by hackers to mine cryptocurrencies. The attackers choose various methods, including malicious links and even internet ads that are made with JavaScript.

Cryptojacking is hard to detect in a computer as the mining process runs in the background.

How To Prevent Cryptojacking?

  • Implement security features in your system.

  • Educate and train employees on cryptojacking.

  • Use adblockers to block malicious ads.

  • Use miner-detection software to detect any background crypto mining programs.

15. Zero-Day Attacks:

Often, new vulnerabilities come up on a network, and the vendors choose to notify their users through public channels. These vulnerabilities do not have any fix as they just got detected.

Attackers or their threat actors get hold of this information as well, and they try to target these vulnerabilities to get access to the systems operating under the vendor. These attacks are commonly known as Zero-Day Exploits. A system is vulnerable to zero-day exploits until the vendor patches the vulnerability on the network.

How To Prevent Zero-Day Exploit?

  • Build up a security team to tackle any potential future threats.

  • Implement security patches as soon as they are available.

16. Insider Threats:

Employees working in an organization intentionally or unintentionally end up exposing a company’s system to attackers. Intentional insider threats include employees clicking on Malicious links mistakenly. In contrast, unintentional insider threats come from employees who are intent on damaging the company for their financial benefit.

How To Prevent Insider Threats?

  • Educate and train employees on different security threats to your system.

  • Limit the access of employees to data they do not require.

  • Monitoring the activities of the employees to detect any malicious activities.

17. XSS Attacks:

Cross-site scripting attacks(XSS)

Cross-site scripting attacks(XSS) are another method applied by hackers to attack users using third-party websites.

The hackers target websites that have public input sections such as forums or comment sections. They input malicious JavaScript codes into these sections, gaining access to a victim’s device through their browser when they interact with it.

How To Prevent XSS Attacks?

  • Website developers can set up a content security policy (CSP).

  • They can also refrain from using dynamic functions in the code that execute after user input.

  • Users can use Web Application Firewalls to protect themselves from such attacks.

18. Drive-by Attacks:

The drive-by attack involves attackers attacking a website and inputting malicious scripts into it. Once that is done, any visitor of the website has their computers compromised, with the website itself hacking into their systems. Drive-by attacks are so powerful that even visiting the website can get the user’s system hacked without even needing to click anywhere.

How To Prevent Drive-by Attacks?

  • Use a secured web browser.

  • Install a Web Application Firewall.

  • Disable browser plugins or enable the click-to-play option for them.

  • Do not save credit card details in your browser. 

19. Supply Chain Attacks:

Supply chain attacks involve hackers targeting vulnerabilities in a supply chain and bringing the processes to a halt, in turn affecting business operations.

How To Prevent Supply Chain Attacks?

  • Making sure third-party vendors are compliant with security regulations.

  • By conducting timely security audits of the supply chain.

20. Birthday Attacks:

Birthday attacks get their name from the Birthday paradox, in which there is a 50% chance that two people have the same birth date. Birthdays have no relation to cyber attacks, but hashes do. Hash algorithms are security features that the sender assigns to a message to authenticate it by the receiver. However, hashes are not unique, and hackers can intercept them.

An attacker can give a similar hash to a message and replace the one sent by the sender. This is then considered authentic by the receiver, potentially risking their system as the message always contains a malicious script.

How To Prevent Birthday Attacks?

  • Only use secured cryptographic hash functions.

  • Create hashes with more digits; this makes it harder to replicate.

  • Consider using HMAC to authenticate messages.

FAQ

How can I protect myself from phishing attacks?

Phishing attacks can be prevented by learning how to detect one. Phishing attacks that are carried out through emails often have errors in them that can be easily detected. Other than that, you can also choose to use anti-phishing software to detect any possible malicious content that you interact with.

What should I do if I become a victim of ransomware?

Once you have realized that you have become a victim of a ransomware attack, consider disconnecting the device from the network. This prevents other devices connected to it from getting exploited. If you have your data backed up, then you can restore it using the backup files. If not, then you can use a decryptor to save your device from the attackers using a decryption key.

How common are cyber-attacks?

Cyber attacks are very common in the digital world, with one company being attacked with ransomware every 14 seconds. An average of 4,000 cyber-attacks are occurring each day, with 560,000 new malware being detected.

What are some of the biggest cyber attacks in history?

Not one of the most recent cyber attacks but the Melissa virus which came out in 1999 was deemed one of the biggest cyber attacks in history. Other than that, Operation Aurora is also considered to be a big cyber attack that targeted many conglomerates in the US. 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that technology is advancing for the betterment of humans as tasks are processed faster with each new one popping up. However, we are also introduced to more contemporary threats. Hackers love the expanding digital domain as it presents newer attack surfaces for them.

They implement new cyber attack tactics to penetrate a system for their financial gains successfully but inflict damage to a company as a result.

To help you battle such cyber threat actors, CloudDefense.AI offers you security features that can not only defend your system from the top 20 common types of cyber-attack methods mentioned in this article but many more. CloudDefense.AI is a robust CNAPP that secures everything in your infrastructure from the core to the surface. Protecting you and your company.

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Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal
Anshu Bansal, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and venture capitalist, currently co-founds CloudDefense.AI, a cybersecurity solution with a mission to secure your business by rapidly identifying and removing critical risks in Applications and Infrastructure as Code. With a background in Amazon, Microsoft, and VMWare, they contributed to various software and security roles.
Protect your Applications & Cloud Infrastructure from attackers by leveraging CloudDefense.AI ACS patented technology.

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