Types of Cyber-attacks and Why Cybersecurity is Important

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Not so long ago, cyber-attacks were solely the problem of techies. However, things have changed, and no one can afford to ignore the importance of cybersecurity. Gadgets, phones, and anything that can be connected to a computer or the internet are susceptible to cyber-attacks from criminals. The possibility of data breaches, losing confidential information, and tarnishing the image of a business is heightened with these attacks. Therefore, it is crucial that you know the types of cyber threats and how to buff up your cybersecurity to prevent them.

Types of Cyber-attacks

A cyber-attack is an intentional activity that exploits computers, networks, and enterprises that rely heavily on technology. Malicious codes are used by cybercriminals to alter the data, logic, or code on the computer. The common types of cyber-attacks are:

cybersecurity attacks

  1. Phishing Attacks

Phishing is the technique used to steal a user’s data from the internet or computer-connected device. Login credentials, credit card numbers, and passwords are usually what such hackers obtain from their victims.

Such criminals use disguise, pretending to be someone their victims can trust, and then trick them into opening a message, email, or link. Usually, the victim’s system freezes shortly after clicking the link or message, and their sensitive information becomes accessible to the hacker.

For example, you probably receive spam in your email every day. It is very likely that a few of them would have links to buy a product, or read an article. Such spams can be a window for hackers to steal funds, make unauthorized purchases, or take over your entire computer.

Phishing is one security breach that can have disastrous, and long-lasting effects on a victim. There are several types of phishing attacks which include:

– Whale Phishing: Here, high-profiled employees like CEOs are targeted and tricked into making transfers to the attacker.

– Spear Attack: This is an email targeted threat to an individual or organization.

– Pharming: Pharming is a fraudulent act that directs users to a fake page that looks like the original, to steal from them. For example, an attacker can create a web page that looks exactly like that of the victim’s bank to trick them into entering their pin.

  1. Man-in-the-middle attack

The man-in-the-middle attack is a security breach where cybercriminals place themselves between the communication system of a client and the server. For example, you are on a call with your boss, and he has just given you some sensitive information over the phone. In man-in-the-middle attacks, a criminal will be listening to that conversation and obtain the information you spoke about.

Man-in-the-middle is by far the sneakiest attack by criminals. Vulnerable WiFi connections and communication lines are the easiest means to carry out this security breach. The three common types of man-in-the-middle attack are:

– Session Hijacking: In this cyber-attack, the hacker takes control of the session between the network server and the victim. For instance, the hacker can replace the user’s connection, or even create a fake server that the victim will be tricked into connecting to.

– IP spoofing: This security breach provides access to the hacker by tricking the user into communicating with a known entity. For instance, a packet of internet addresses, including that of a trusted site like google, can be sent to the victim.

– Replay: In this Man-in-the-middle threat, the hacker saves old messages and then uses it later to impersonate the user. For example, if a hacker gets hold of your Instagram page, he or she can use it to impersonate you.

  1. SQL Injection Treat

SQL is an acronym for Structured Query Language, and an SQL attack is one of the oldest cybersecurity breaches. In SQL, queries are made. Therefore, in the SQL injection threat, a malicious query is sent to the device (a computer, phone, etc.) or a server. Sensitive information is then forced to be exposed by the server.

For instance, a cybercriminal can create a query that disrupts and gets into the database of your webpage through SQL injection. All the data, like your customers’ details, amount paid, and other confidential information, can then be released by the query.

The daunting part of this cyber-attack is that the attacker can not only get hold of sensitive information but also alter or wipe them completely.

  1. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack

This cyber-attack overwhelms a network, system, or computer with unwanted traffic. The system or server is bombarded with high-volume traffic that its bandwidth and resources cannot handle. Hence, they will not be able to respond to requests. For example, a gardening website that notices a sky-rocketed number of visits of unknown users in a day may be under a DDoS attack.

Distributed Denial of Service attacks does not usually result in identity theft or loss of vital information. However, it will cost a lot of money to get the server running again.

  1. Drive-by Attack

Drive-by attacks are security threats that download unwanted materials from a website. It is one of the most common ways of spreading malware as all the hacker has to do is to plant code on the page. You have probably seen a few pop-ups that do not relate in any way to what you are searching on the internet. Such pop-ups are drive-by attacks.

Unlike other cyber-attacks, a drive-by download does not need you to do anything to enable the attack on your computing device. The best way to protect yourself from such threats is to update your internet browsers frequently. Also, do not leave too many apps and programs on your devices open.

  1. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

Cross-site scripting is a cyber-attack where an attacker sends malicious code to a reputable website. It is an attack that is permitted only when a website allows code to be attached to its own. The two scripts are then bundled together and sent to the victim. As soon as the script is executed, a cookie is sent to the attacker. With this type of cyber-attack, hackers can collect sensitive data and monitor the activities of the victim.

For example, if you see a funny-looking code on your government’s page, then an attacker is probably trying to get access to your device through Cross-Site Scripting.

  1. Password Attack

As its name implies, password attack is an attempt to steal passwords from a user. Since passwords are the most common authentication means, attackers are always on the lookout for ways to use this cyber-attack. Two common techniques they use to get a user’s password are;

– Brute-force guessing: This entails using different random words, hoping that one of them would be the correct password. If the hacker knows his or her victim, they can apply logic while guessing and try the person’s title, name, job, or hobbies as the password.

– Dictionary Attack: In this case, the hacker uses some of the common passwords to gain access to the user’s device. For instance, 1234 or ‘abcde’ are passwords that a lot of people use on their devices. These two are at the top of the list of common ones an attacker will try out.

To protect yourself from either of these two types of password attacks, implement a lockout policy to your cybersecurity.

  1. Ransomware Attack

One cyber threat with scary consequences is the ransomware attack. In this type of security breach, the malware prevents users from accessing the data they stored on a server or database. The hacker then sends out a threat demanding a ransom unless the data will be exposed or deleted.

  1. Eavesdropping Attack

Eavesdropping attack is also known as snooping, network security threat, or sniffing. It is very similar to the man-in-the-middle attack, but here a secured connection between the user and a server is not allowed. Data and information are stolen after they have been sent, so they do not get across to the server.

Unsecured and weak network transmissions allow this security breach to thrive. Any device within the network is susceptible to an eavesdropping attack from hackers.

  1. AI-Powered attacks

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making ground-breaking success in recent years. Almost every gadget has some application of AI in it, which heightens the scare of an AI-powered cyber-attack. Such security threats will have the most devastating effects as autonomous cars, drones, and computer systems can be hacked by artificial intelligence. As they are made but not controlled by humans, AI can also be used to shut down power supplies, national security systems, and hospitals.


Listed above are some of the cyber-attacks that you can face as a business owner or user of technological devices. The data, accounts, passwords, and sensitive information that can be lost deleted, or made public by cyber-attacks is alarming. Tech companies are also not exempted from the scare. Facebook had a security breach where $439 million to recover from a cyber breach, and Equifax spent an estimated $439 million to recover from a cyber breach.

Cyber threats are attacks that you should stand up to and protect yourself and the company from the harm that comes with it.