The 13 Most Common Website Security Attacks

The 13 Most Common Website Security Attacks

On a daily basis, there are around 2200 cyberattacks and data breaches that occur, and as our use of technology advances and improves, so does the potential for security threats that are daunting on us from all angles. To put this into perspective, the amount of time it took you to read that sentence, one more website has been hacked… In order to protect oneself and one’s business from a potential cyber-attack, it is essential that we understand the various different website attacks, telling signs and ways to try to avoid them. Throughout this text, we will discover and educate ourselves about the common attack techniques that are out there and what we should do once we have detected attacks.

1. Malware

Malware is a type of attack that includes implanting harmful software, for example a virus, in someone’s device. Malware can cause great harm while being in your system as it allows the attacker to gain full control of your machine. The attacker (who is an unauthorized player in this game) is therefore able to download confidential and private data from the network or the computer, leaving the victim in great danger. Malware attacks occur easily and they can happen to anyone. Malware attacks arrive in the form of malicious links or emails that look trustworthy, safe and legitimate, causing victims to click on them. These links and mails look harmless, they seem to come from a reliable employee, friend or organization, causing people to not even think twice about clicking on the link.

2. Phishing

A phishing attack happens as a result of human curiosity. Someone sends us an email. The email address looks totally reliable and legitimate, maybe from our boss or a fellow employee in the company. More often than not, the email will express something of concern or something of urgency, for example “your account has been associated with fraudulent activity, please follow XYZ to….”. So, what do we do? We click on it. We click on it in a hurry. Once we click on this link, we open ourselves up to falling complete victim to a malicious attachment that now installs viruses and malware into our devices and machines.

3. Denial of Service (DoS)

Picture this scenario, you are driving down a road. Usually, this road sees no more than 3 or 4 cars on it at any one single time. But today all is different. Today all schools across the district are finishing at the same time and in addition there is a major football game starting around that same time.

Thousands of cars are trying to drive down this same road but everyone is stuck. Parents don’t make it to pick-up at the right time, fans and supporters are late to reach the football game and those who are just merely trying to drive around are stuck in hours and hours of congested traffic. This is what occurs during a denial of service (DoS) attack. An attacker will flood the website with way more web traffic than it could handle. This then blocks any visitors from trying to access the website.

 4. Whaling Phishing Attacks

This particular method targets senior executives within a company. This is performed whereby an email appears to be completely legitimate and authentic. This will in turn encourage the person who receives the email to respond to the email and in so doing by their response, an action is performed which could result in the transferring of money to what appears to be a legitimate business partner of the victim being targeted. 

The email appears real and completely authentic as it contains personal details about the victim, also, it appears to be urgent and uses very knowledgeable and concise business language.  To try prevent this from occurring It is crucial that everyone in a company is aware of these types of tactics and to confirm with partners and or business associates before responding to these sophisticated and convincing emails.

5. IP Spoofing

This type of attack makes you believe that you are communicating with an approved and well-known institution and due to this you don’t even question this, but in fact you give access into the system. The attacker delivers an IP source address of a well-known legitimate host while hiding the actual true identity of the attacker.  Due to the fact this appears completely in order and legitimate the host will most likely accept it and respond to it. A typical example of this is done via telephone calls made to a victim whereby the person introduces themselves as a representative from your bank and has all your information which then seems completely legitimate. The victim then agrees to do what is required by the attacker and lands up losing out financially by their bank accounts being hacked

6. Zero-day Exploit

The cyber attackers use this method by actually learning the vulnerability within established software implementations and operating methodology. Subsequently they target the various places or companies who are utilizing that particular software. The aim is to go in and attack the vulnerability within the web and to do this before a fix for it becomes available or is at hand. The old anti-virus applications do not work for these zero-day attacks, making it extremely difficult to stop such attacks. To prevent these attacks, one has to use Next Generation Antivirus (NGAV) which seems to be the most effective way in order to stop attackers from getting unknown software onto a person’s computer. It is essential to keep updating software in order to prevent these threats.

7. Business Email Compromise (BEC)

This attack is specifically aimed at people who have the authority to implement financial undertakings. This simply involves the victim being conned into authorizing money to be turned over and this money is in fact going into the account of the cyber-criminal.  This type of attack involves the attacker doing a lot of research in order to find out a lot of information about the company and the personal information of various employees in a company. By appearing knowledgeable and informed the victim trusts this as being authentic  and legitimate and is more likely to transfer the money. BEC is a very dangerous attack and can have detrimental effects financially. It is crucial that all employees be completely vigilant of emails that may in any way appear suspicious and should always confirm its legitimacy with the various vendors.

8. Password Attacks

This type of attack is exactly as it is stated and sounds, that is to gain access to someone’s password and thereby enabling access into their site to hack or create problems. Simply put the cyber criminal is attempting to predict or simply to hack the exact password used by the victim. There are various methods used by attackers to gain someone’s password. Too many to mention all but some of the more common ones will be discussed. One of the most common is something called brute force attacks. This involves trying out various passwords by guessing, sometimes using all different kinds of combinations to access or crack the password. Another method to gain access to a password is done using something called dictionary attack. Within this method the attacker will use regular or habitual words and or phrases typically used in businesses to try and crack the password. This can take hours of trying out various combinations until the hacker is successful. In order to try and stop an attacker from cracking a password it is essential to have an extremely strong and well-built password. There are tests one can do to test if the password is weak or vulnerable, it is important to constantly carry these out. One should also check and audit to see if there have been attempted logins to your web.

9. Cross-site scripting

This form of attack is aimed to basically steal and capture data or information. This technique involves the cyber attacker uploading vindictive viruses or codes onto your web. Some examples of this are, backdoor attacks, scripting attacks, trojan horse and spyware. Backdoor attacks result in the theft of trade secrets, extracting data about the employees and deleting crucial files. This process happens gradually over a period of time in order to go unnoticed. Scripting attacks make changes to functionality and involve basic modification of the web page. The victims are open to these attacks if there are weaknesses in the coding which open a door allowing viruses in. The intention of the attacker is to steal personal and confidential information for example information off a credit card which would result in financial loss for the victim. Another intention is just merely to create problems which cause technical glitches and technical issues. The trojan horse appears as something beneficial for the recipient, making it attractive to the recipient. Spyware is basically allowing someone to gain access to hidden information on another person’s computer by sending covert data from the hard drive.  If you find your system is very slow or crashing and/ or different programs keep popping up, it would be highly recommended to check for viruses on your computer. 

10. Injection attacks

This attack is again as it sounds it is a direct injection directly into a person’s records or archives of data and information. The attacker provides mistrustful inserts into an application on the website. The person interpreting this sees it as a query or a command and then changes the execution of that application. Injecting websites is an age-old tactic and is very damaging. Injecting websites can result in the attacker getting complete control of the website and can enforce commands on the application. A common example of injection attacks is to supply data to an application in a method that alters the definition of the commands being sent to the person. Hence this involves information on a web site being altered on the client’s side by the use of injecting malicious codes into the browser. To prevent injection attacks from occurring, it is necessary to use scanning on a continued basis and testing for potential injection penetration.  There is something called the Barracuda web application firewall which appears to be effective in protecting all the data from injection attacks.

11. Man-in-the-middle-attack (MITM)

This MITM attack happens to be where the attacker interrupts the messages between two people in order to try to scout information about or from the victim. It involves the theft of private and confidential material. MITM methods of attack are not so frequent in these times due to the usage of end-to-end encryption on emails. Due to this end-to-end encryption the attacker is stopped from interfering with the data.

Another way to prevent MITM attacks is to use a virtual private network (VPN) when you connect to your network, this is even more important if you are utilizing a public Wi-Fi operation or hotspot. One needs to be careful not to click on pop ups which are common and you become inquisitive , and also to be aware of fake websites. Always see I if there are HTTPS before each URL.

12. DNS tunnelling

DNS tunnelling is an attack method structured in such a way that gives attackers admission to a particular target. If companies fail to check DNS traffic for bad malevolent action, the attackers are able to enclose or tunnel malware into DNS inquiries. The malware is then able to generate a network communication station which the majority of firewalls are unable to pick up or detect. The common old-style firewalls are not so sophisticated and hence are unable to spot DNS tunnelling. It is therefore imperative to utilize more advanced systems such as tunnelguard, Zscaler and DNSfilter to prevent these cyber-attacks. What needs to happen is that the applications you utilize can mechanically stop the execution of malware that are found in malevolent DNS inquiries. Ongoing analysis of all DNS inquiries to check for distrustful outlines is imperative.

13. Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking involves compromising a person’s computer and utilize it to mine cryptocurrencies for example bitcoin. Cryptojacking is not too common but is still very dangerous. The attacker uses reliable network properties to mine the cryptocurrency and the organization is completely unaware of these dealings. This does not involve the theft of valuable information but rather using a company’s network to your own gain an advantage. In order to try prevent cryptojacking from your company’s system one needs to keep a check on CPU usage of all the systems devices. Another important tactic is to ensure your employees keep a constant and vigilant check on and be wary of distrustful emails which may in fact have cryptojacking malware.

Unfortunately, cyber attacks are all too common these days with the various sophisticated methods being used to invade a person or company’s private and confidential material. Cyber crime is not only a criminal offence but is also compromising human rights. This affects people in all walks of life, in one’s personal world in the business world, and within governments. Due to the fact that the methods used are so slick and well developed unfortunately far too many people trust the information and applications and become victims of cyber-crime. The three parts of a system that are attacked on devices are the software, hardware and the data.

One of the problems that encourage web site attacks are companies who gather customers information and data using online methodology. Online data capturing opens you up to malicious cyber-attacks. It is absolutely crucial and essential to use the best and most advanced methods in order to protect your site. Testing out vulnerabilities on your site, using web application firewalls which help to minimize access to your site, and using secure development testing (SDT) which provides information about the latest cyber attack methods being used to prevent any cyber attacks is absolutely imperative in order to try and gain control over these cyber-attacks. 

Possibly one of the most important tasks in any company is to be completely vigilant about possible web site attacks within your company. Having a good defence expert or experts who are proficient at analysing and detecting potential cyber-attacks is a vital part in every company. This can make the difference from experiencing huge financial loss and business compromise. 

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