The Different Types of Cyber Attacks We’re Facing in Our Digital World

As operations in our retail technology landscape continues to increase, so does the types of digital threats we face…

Cyber security is becoming a hot topic in our industry, especially in the past couple of years as the transition towards a more digital retail environment has rapidly increased as our way of adapting to the economic climate we’re in as a result of the global pandemic. As our technologies evolve, so do the risks of cyber attacks

With all of these new technologies that we’re utilizing to grow our retail businesses, it’s getting harder to know just how vulnerable we truly are. As retailers, especially those that are less tech savvy, this really isn’t our area of expertise. Many of us don’t know the difference between a phishing attack and a malware attack, or even know of the existence of the handfuls of other types of attacks that are out there. 

But cyber attacks on small and medium businesses across the globe have been on the rise over the past 10 years, causing hundreds of thousands of businesses to pause or stop operations completely. It has become crucial that we understand what we’re up against.

Below are 10 of the most commonly known types of cyber attacks and what they do. While there are dozens of different ways to prevent each individual attack, a proper data protection and monitoring system is the best way to ensure you’re protected from ALL of it.

Distressed woman and man infront of computer that has an error messaging stating their data has been encrypted and they have a time limit to pay a ransom to get it back

1. Malware Attacks

This covers a broad range of malicious threats, such as ransomware attacks, trojan viruses, spyware, adware, and more. Each of these threats cause havoc on a system in their own way:

  • Ransomware blocks access to data and often permanently wipes or encrypts it, making it near impossible to recover. 
  • Trojans are a virus that’s planted into a system through a seemingly legitimate software. 
  • Spyware steals confidential data without your knowledge. 
  • Adware is a virus planted on a user’s screen that displays advertising content.  

A malware attack typically happens through a vulnerability in your system caused by a user, such as clicking onto a dangerous link in an email or web browser.

2. Phishing Attacks

These attacks are one of the more commonly used – and unfortunately successful – attacks. Phishing appears in the form of an email from a trusted contact asking you to click a link or open an attachment. Since it appears to be coming from a known source, the user is likely to engage, which opens up a vulnerability and allows access to confidential information and credentials. Malware Attacks can also be planted through phishing.

3. Password Attacks

We all get annoyed with the list of requirements we need to meet in order to set a password on all of our accounts – it must be a minimum of 8 characters, one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, a symbol, a number, and so on. The truth is, these requirements exist to protect our accounts from the many different programs out there that work to crack passwords, such as Aircrack, Cain, and Hashcat. Password attacks happen when a hacker is able to figure out your password and gain access to classified information. In most cases, the account they hack ends up hijacked.

Woman's hands with green painted nails typing on a keyboard with a password entry image overlaid on top

4. Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MITM)

Also known as an Eavesdropping Attack, this occurs when a hacker is able to intercept an open communication line between two parties, often undetected. When eavesdropping, a hacker can steal and manipulate data that’s being shared between the two parties. For example, someone doing online banking on a public wifi network at a cafe is at risk of a MITM attack on their bank information.

5. Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks are a major problem for businesses specifically, as it works to overwhelm your system’s resources, causing the system to slow down or shut down completely. In a lot of cases, this leaves legitimate service requests unattended, which causes a business to lose customers, sales and their reputation. 

While most cyber attacks aim at gaining access to data, this type of attack doesn’t offer the attacker any vital information, but does offer the satisfaction of sabotaging a business. It’s also used as a way to take a system offline so something more malicious can be easily planted. 

A Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) occurs when the denial of service comes from multiple hosts controlled by the attacker.

Close up of a phone screen with a lock and a message stating Threat Detected with an option to block

6. Drive-By Attacks

This type of attack is commonly used to spread malware, but does not need to rely on the user to click or open something in order to access a vulnerability. Instead, attackers find insecure websites and browsers where they can plant malicious HTTP or PHP codes onto one of the pages. Just by a user visiting these websites or browsers, these codes will either download malicious software onto the user’s system or redirect the user to a page controlled by the hacker. These hackers typically take advantage of programs that have not been properly patched, or updated. 

7. SQL Injection Attack

Structure Query Language (SQL) is the domain-specific language used in programming. An SQL Injection Attack occurs on vulnerable database-driven websites where the hacker is able to manipulate the SQL into revealing sensitive data, allowing administrative access or, in some cases, issues commands directly into the operating system. This form of attack is becoming more common and a major problem for businesses.

8. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Attack

Cross-Site Scripting Attacks are quite similar to an SQL Injection Attack, except the attacker is targeting website visitors rather than the website itself. The most common place for this attack to be planted is in the comments section of a website. When someone visits that page, the malicious script that was planted will execute and either infect their device or extract credentials and other valuable data. This script can also redirect a visitor to a malicious website.

9. Zero-Day Exploit

In cases where a vulnerability on a program has been detected but no patch has yet to be developed, the programmers typically inform their users of this vulnerability. Unfortunately, this information can also reach hackers, and they exploit this small window of vulnerability before the patch is developed to gain access and plant attacks. In order to properly prevent these zero-day exploit attacks, consistent data monitoring and a proper threat management plan is crucial. 

Data shield with a key hole in the center on a sonar monitor

10. Cryptojacking

This type of attack is newer to the digital world, and occurs when a computer or system is hijacked to mine for cryptocurrencies. These attacks are often quiet and end up happening without the user’s knowledge. While this type of attack doesn’t give a hacker access to information, it does utilize valuable resources to perform the mining, which may result in a slow system.  

Confused man scratching his head with one hand while holding a laptop in the other while standing in a crowded server room

Are you ready to get your data protected so you can have total peace of mind that your business is safe? Canadian Retail Solutions has the solution YOU need. Learn about Ninja – the Advanced Multi-Layered Data Protection & Monitoring system.