Common Types of Cyber Attacks

A man working at a computer

Hackers have become a lot more sophisticated since the era of dumpster diving. If you decide to become a cybersecurity specialist, you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest technologies and techniques that criminals are using to compromise sensitive data. Many aspiring information technology professionals choose to enroll in Grand Canyon University because of our emphasis on hands-on projects and ethical decision-making in STEM fields.

Socially Engineered Malware

Malicious software comes in many forms, including spyware, Trojan horses, ransomware, worms and viruses. In any form, malware increasingly relies on social engineering to infect computers, rather than buffer overflows or misconfigurations.

Malware can take over an otherwise benign, perfectly legitimate website that people normally visit often, like a news website. When the malware takes over, the website visitors are asked to install some new program, like a fake antivirus program. Because the website is normally one that the visitors trust, many of them will go ahead and click on the link. Some of them will even ignore security warnings and disable security settings, as instructed by the malware. Countering the threat of socially engineered malware requires cybersecurity professionals to conduct routine and ongoing educational sessions to encourage users to develop a healthy sense of threat awareness.

Password Phishing

Password phishers have greatly improved their ability to produce official-looking emails that ask recipients for confidential information. These days, most computer-savvy individuals know better than to click on spam, but they might hesitate to delete an email that looks as if it was sent by a legitimate person or organization with whom they are already familiar.

The DMV, for example, might legitimately send reminder emails to state residents about renewing their vehicle registration. A password phisher could duplicate this email, enticing users to click on the provided link. Some very well-written phishing emails even warn recipients about the dangers of fraudulent emails, as this implies the trustworthiness of the sender.

Social Media Hacking

Social media hacking is another type of attack that requires ongoing user education to counter the threat. It usually involves sending a friend request or an invitation to install an application. The hacker uses this as a doorway to gain access to the account. Social media hacking can be particularly problematic when users share passwords among different sites.

Denial of Service Attacks

Sometimes, so many Internet users visit a particular website that the server can’t handle the traffic and the website becomes inaccessible. This doesn’t automatically indicate a denial of service attack. A retailer’s website might go down if the retailer has a deeply discounted sale on popular items, for instance. But sometimes, a denial of service attack is to blame. These types of attacks can sometimes be launched for the purpose of extorting money. They can also be used by state actors.

It is important for a cyber security specialist to stay up-to-date on all different types of cyber-attacks.

As a STEM student at Grand Canyon University, you could choose to focus your education on the rapidly growing field of cybersecurity. Consider majoring in Information Technology with an Emphasis in Cybersecurity at our College of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Look for the Request More Information link at the top of your screen to get started.

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