types of cyberattacks

4 Types of Cyberattacks that You’re Most Likely to Face

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Cyberattacks and their crippling after-effects are considered to be one of the biggest global risks by the World Economic Forum (WEF). In its 2019 report, the organization listed cyberattacks in the top five risks that are most likely to occur in the year. This includes various types of cyberattacks that both organizations and individuals face.

A cyberattack can be described as a deliberate attempt to steal, harm, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems, security infrastructure, or computer networks. It can be broadly classified into two categories – attacks that focus on disabling the operations of another system by shutting it down and attacks that target to gain access to the unauthorized data.

4 Most Common Cyberattacks

Take a look at the list of the top four most common types of cyberattacks.

1. Brute-force attack

Brute force cyberattack

Under this attack, cybercriminals use the trial and error approach to guess the password successfully. Attackers try every possible combination of passwords and passphrases until the account is unlocked. Perpetrators use brute-force attacks to gain passwords to access the data of a website or a personal account. Access to the login credentials can also let them shut down the victim’s account or website.

Of all the different types of cyberattacks, cybersecurity experts consider brute-force attack to be an infallible but time-consuming approach.

Safety tips against brute-force attacks

  • Use complex passwords, mainly containing a combination of numbers, special characters, and lower-upper case alphabets.
  • Set a limit on the number of login attempts.
  • For fighting against automated attacks using bots, enable captchas.
  • Add extra layers of security with multi-factor authentication.

2. Credential Stuffing

password credential stuffing

Credential stuffing is when the attacker used stolen credentials to gain unauthorized access to a user’s account. With automation, the process gets simpler. Huge databases containing compromised credentials are used to break into an account. Once the attacker is successful, the hacked account can be used to initiate fraudulent transactions, for carrying out other ill-intended activities, to alter or misuse the stored data.

The stolen credentials allow the attackers to access other platforms using the same credentials. Generally, people reuse their passwords for different applications, which give an upper hand to the attackers.

Safety tips against credential stuffing

  • Enable multi-factor authentication.
  • Allow your account to have a multi-step login process.
  • Blacklist suspiciously acting IP addresses.
  • Use device fingerprinting – a technique that combines various attributes to identify an electronic device.
  • Discontinue using email addresses as user IDs. The attacker will now need to put an extra effort first to find your email id then the password.

3. Phishing and Spear Phishing


Phishing is one of the most prevalent types of cyberattacks. The practice of sending emails from a trusted-seeming source to gain personal information is called phishing. The attacker uses not only technical knowledge but also social engineering skills to pull off a phishing campaign. These phishing emails usually come with an attached file or illegitimate website that tricks you into downloading malware or revealing personal information.

On the other hand, spear phishing is a targeted attack where the attacker conducts research on the victims before sending a personalized message or email. This attack is a sophisticated way of targeting victims. This type of attack is not easy to identify, which makes its prevention difficult.

Safety tips against phishing attacks

  • Do not open emails sent from unknown sources.
  • Before clicking on a link, hover the mouse over it to find where it will take you.
  • Pay close attention to email headers, and you’ll be able to identify whether it’s genuine or not.


4. Malware attacks

malware attack

Malware can be defined as malicious software that is downloaded in your system without you being aware of its presence. The primary objective of malware is to steal, encrypt, or delete sensitive data from your system. It can also alter the intent of your functions without your consent. Sometimes, malware is capable of replicating and spreading across the Internet. The majorly known forms of malware attacks are –

a. Adware

Adware is one of the most evitable forms of malware. You identify it when you witness one. It advertises malware with uninvited messages, which are automatically generated, clickable advertisements leading you to downloadable malicious software. They usually appear in the form of pop-ups or some random windows that do not close.

Safety tips
  • Block confirmed malicious scripts from running on your browser.
  • Use a dedicated tool for adware removal.

b. Bad bots

Bots (or Internet bots) are software programs developed to automate a repetitive task. While bad bots are self-propagating malware that infects the host and reports back to the connected central server. These bots are capable of collecting passwords, log keystrokes, personal financial data, and other sensitive data.

Safety tips
  • Install a firewall to block malicious attacks.
  • Use complicated passwords (inclusive of numbers and symbols).
  • Maintain a unique password for each online platform.
  • Keep all software and applications up-to-date.

c. Ransomware

It is a type of malware that blocks the access of authorized users to their private data. For retrieval of the encrypted data, the victims then need to pay the ransom amount demanded by the attacker. Some malware blocks the system in a way that is easy to decrypt while its advanced forms include the use of cryptoviral extortion attack, making it impossible to reverse the encryption.

Safety tips
  • Perform frequent system backups and store them on a separate device.

d. Trojans

Malware with disguised intention is popularly known as Trojans or Trojan horses. Apart from attacking the system, Trojans can create a backdoor for the attackers to stealthily get into the system.

Difference between Trojans and Viruses: Unlike viruses, Trojans do not self-replicate themselves.

Safety tips
  • Avoid downloading software or application from an untrusted source.
  • Ignore clicking on URLs that are sent from unknown sources.
  • Install and enable a Trojan antivirus program.

These types of cyberattacks are prevalent and rampant in today’s world. They indicate an urgency for staying aware of these attacks and the ways to defend your systems against their malicious intent. EC-Council offers Certified Secure Computer User (C|SCU), a program that introduces you to the different types of cyberattacks and how to combat them. It is designed by experts in the industry and brilliantly covers a wide range of topics – password security, email security, mobile device security, physical security, and data protection. It also prepares you for advanced-level threats targeting cloud and credit card security. The program comprehensively covers the fundamental understanding of computer and network security threats.

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