5 Most Common Cyber Attacks Broken Down in Laymen’s Terms

Todd Smith, Director, Information Security Practice | September 16, 2016

Cybercrime takes a variety of different forms in order to steal and exploit your sensitive information. Whether targeting your financial data, infrastructure or company secrets, hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. That’s why we have broken down the 5 most common cyber-attacks in Laymen’s Terms.

Unpatched Software. Keeping your software patched is essential in maintaining good computer health. Not to mention, unpatched software can leave your computer vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The applications with the most “distinct” vulnerabilities in 2016 were Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Google Chrome.

Backdoor and Remote Access Trojans (RAT). Trojans hide malicious code in a file or program that looks useful or interesting. When the Trojan is resident on your desktop it can open a “backdoor” into your computer. These types of Trojans are sometimes referred to as Remote Access Trojans (RAT). Remote attackers can use this “Backdoor” to access your system and send spam, steal

your online/offline passwords, credit card information, address, phone, number or other sensitive data. Trojans can also record your keystrokes, view or download any of your personal online content (such as photos or documents), change your system settings, and disable current antivirus protection. This type of attack is perhaps the most common and dangerous of cyber-attacks. I you suspect a Trojan, you should seek immediate IT help to have them remove this malware from your system.

Denial of Service (DoS). A DoS attack is exactly what it sounds like: it denies users or companies from accessing or providing services. Services for users include access to a web site, or sending and receiving email. For companies, this could be an e-commerce web application vital to the success of your business. Attackers target services for financial gain, competitive advantage or just for revenge purposes.

Phishing and Pharming. Phishing is when an individual is targeted by someone posing as an alleged friend, relative, or familiar name in attempt to lure the individual into providing sensitive information. This is typically done by a well-crafted e-mail. If the information is acquired, the individual’s personal assets could be compromised including bank accounts, passwords, and exposure of sensitive documents. Pharming on the other hand, redirects users towards false websites without their knowledge. This differs from phishing where an attacker tries to steal personal information by getting the individual to visit a fake website by their own-doing. Even though Pharming is less common than phishing, pharming can impact more people in less time.

Malicious Adware. Adware is a type of software that shows you advertisements in a variety of different forms, from noninvasive banners to invasive popups. Typically, Adware is downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge because it piggybacks on other downloads. Adware can mimic Microsoft error boxes or similar alert messages to get you to download the malware. Other adware can exploit holes in your computer’s security.

Learn more about how identify cyber threats through the Interphase Systems Cyber Security Awareness Training Program.

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