Most Common Cyber Attacks you Need to Know About

Today, we are going to talk about some of the most common cyber attacks that are being performed nowadays. 

Most users and organizations follow various cybersecurity practices to protect themselves from online threats. However, despite the efforts,  the cyberattack industry continues to grow. 

According to a Clark School study by the University of Maryland, a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds. It affects one in three Americans on average. 

This is why we need to define what type of attack is the most common and the factors that contribute to these attacks. Some of the most prominent cyberattacks you should be aware of include:

Top 8 Common Cyber Attacks

1. Malware

Malware refers to a host of malicious activity, including virus and ransomware. Once the malware gains entry into your system, it can wreak all sorts of havoc, including taking control of your machine, monitoring your keystrokes, and even extracting your private data to another server.

There are various ways malware gains access to your system. However, it is usually through a link that downloads a file to your system and opens a harmless attachment with malware hidden inside. Through this, the attackers take control of your system and force you to compromise many areas of your privacy. 

Related article: Learn how to stay safe from Mobile Cyber Risks

2. Phishing

Phishing is another way the ‘bad actors’ take control of a system. Through this attack, the hackers often send emails or SMS messages depicting to be from someone you know or trust. The message will also contain a subject with some sort of urgency in it – compelling you to click on the enclosed attachment immediately. 

However, upon opening or installing the attached file, you will indeliberately install some sort of malware on your computer. The malware will ultimately hack sensitive information such as bank details and later use the same for fraudulent activity. 

Phishing attacks are often highly targeted as attackers take time to precisely understand their ‘targets’ and create messages that appear personal and relevant. Because of this, phishing attacks are very hard to identify and defend. 

3. Man-in-the-middle Attack 

A man-in-the-middle attack (MitM), also known as an eavesdropping attack, occurs when the hacker adds himself between two transactions. 

The most common type of MitM attack is session hijacking. As the name suggests, the hack is carried out between the client and the network server. For example, in a public wi-fi spot, the attacker inserts himself between the server and the network – ultimately gaining access to all the information that is passed along by the user. 

Another typical MitM attack is IP Spoofing. In this attack, the attacker convinces a system that it is communicating with a trusted host. They do this by sending the target host a packet of IP addresses from a trusted source instead of their own. 

In many cases, the target host accepts the packet and has the system compromised unintentionally. 

4. SQL Injection Attack

An SQL Injection attack is a common phenomenon with database-driven websites. SQL stands for ‘structured query language’ and refers to the programming language used to communicate with databases. 

In this attack, the attacker inserts malicious code into a server that uses SQL and forces the server to reveal sensitive information. For example, suppose a SQL server is vulnerable. In that case, the attackers can inject malicious code in a website’s search box and force the servers to reveal data that they usually wouldn’t. 

SQL injection attacks are pretty common, and many high-profile breaches in recent years have occurred as a result of this. 

When successful, a SQL injection can gain unauthorized access to sensitive data such as passwords, bank credentials, and personal information. In some cases, the SQL injection can also give the hackers backdoor access to a company’s network that can remain unnoticed for an extended period of time.

5. Denial of Service (DoS) Attack 

A denial of service attack is a malicious activity performed to disrupt regular internet traffic. In this type of attack, the hackers overwhelm a system’s server so that it becomes unable to respond to requests. 

Take, for example, highly congested traffic after an event is over. A road that usually serves few cars an hour becomes so populated that pretty much no one can leave. 

This is essentially what happens during a DoS attack. The hackers flood a website with more traffic than it can handle, making it inaccessible for visitors. 

In many scenarios, a DoS attack is performed by many computers at the same time, each coming from different IP addresses around the world – making it challenging to identify. 

6. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS)

In an SQL injection attack, the hacker goes after a website to get hold of credentials and financial information. But in a cross-site scripting attack, the hacker targets the users of a specific website directly. 

However, the website is not the one that gets attacked. Instead, the bad actor injects malicious code into a website that runs only when a visitor drops by. 

For example, the attackers can embed a link on a form available to the website’s user. Or they can display advertisements that run only when the user clicks on them. 

Cross-site scripting attacks are very dangerous as they put a user’s information at risk. These attacks also damage a website’s reputation and make them appear as part of the crooked gang. 

7. Zero-Day Exploit

A zero-day exploit occurs when software/hardware contains a vulnerability, and the hacker inserts malware before the developer gets a chance to release a patch for the security glitch. 

The zero-day exploit attacks are very dangerous, as only the attacker is aware of their existence. In fact, most exploits of this sort go unnoticed by the vendors for years and are often sold in the black market for large sums of money. 

8. DNS Tunneling

Domain name system or DNS is a protocol that translates human-readable web addresses into a machine-friendly IP address. Since DNS is widely used and trusted, hackers exploit them for their own advantage and manipulate data through various modes. This includes:

  • Data Exfiltration: Transfer data from a computer over a DNS system. 
  • Command and Control: Hackers use the DNS servers to send simple commands. 
  • IP Over DNS Tunneling: This kind of attack allows to bypass usual network protection and sends or receives data that is less checked. 


Preparing a good defense against cyberattacks requires an understanding of the vulnerabilities. 

In this article, we have reviewed some of the most common attacks that a hacker can carry out to compromise your system and data. Gain an understanding of each and develop the best cybersecurity practices to ensure your system stays intact. Good luck!

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