Cybersecurity Glossary: Cyber Attack

Definition
A cyber attack (or cyberattack) is an assault launched by cybercriminals using one or more computers against a single or multiple computers or networks. A cyber attack can maliciously disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer as a launch point for other attacks. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods, including malware (“malicious software”), phishing, ransomware, denial of service (DOS), cybercrime, botnets, identity theft, cyberstalking, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and exploit kits.

  • Malware or “malicious software,” which is an umbrella term that describes any program or code that is harmful to…read more.
  • Phishing is a method of getting someone to share sensitive information (usernames, passwords, etc.) by using social engineering to manipulate our emotions, such as greed and…read more.
  • Ransomware is essentially digital extortion executed through software that uses encryption techniques to keep files and entire systems locked from use by their original owner, and holds them hostage until…read more.
  • Denial of Service (DoS) is an attack meant to shut down a machine or network, making it inaccessible to its intended users. DoS attacks accomplish this by flooding the target with traffic, or sending it information that triggers…read more.
  • Cybercrime is a crime where a computer is the object of the crime or is used as a tool to commit an offense. A cybercriminal may use a device to access a user’s personal information, confidential business information, government information, or disable a device. It is also a cybercrime to sell or elicit the above information online. There are three major categories that cybercrime falls into…read more.
  • Botnets are networks from compromised computers that are controlled externally by remote hackers. The remote hackers then send spam or attack other computers through…read more.
  • Identity Theft occurs when a criminal gains access to a user’s personal information to steal funds, access confidential information, or participate in tax or health insurance fraud. They can also open a phone/internet account in your name, use your name to…read more.
  • Cyberstalking involves online harassment where the user is subjected to a plethora of online messages and emails. Typically cyberstalkers use social media, websites and search engines to…read more.
  • Social Engineering involves criminals making direct contact with you usually by phone or email. They want to gain your confidence and usually pose as a customer service agent so…read more.
  • Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) are less threatening than other cybercrimes, but are a type of malware. They uninstall necessary software in your system including search engines and pre-downloaded apps. They can include spyware or…read more.
  • Exploit Kits need a vulnerability (bug in the code of a software) in order to gain control of a user’s computer. They are ready-made tools criminals can buy online and use against anyone with…read more.

Significance
A cyber attack is a crime that can have wide-ranging negative effects for an individual and an organization. One needs only to read the news to see the fallout from breaches, from governments like Georgia to companies like British Airways [BBC] and Equifax [IT Pro Today]. Here are some news stories outlining the real risks of cyber attacks:
Georgia Suffers Huge Cyberattack (Silicon UK, Oct. 2019)
Facebook Sues Companies for Shielding Phishing, Hacking Services (Bloomberg, Oct., 2019)
The 10 Biggest Data Breaches of the 2010s (Business Insider, Oct. 2019)
Rogue fears rise in companies as hacks evolve into ‘home invasions’ [CNBC, Sept. 2019]

Read more on Why Cyber Security Matters.

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