Six most common cyber attacks

Cyber crime is at an all-time high. And at the same time as organizations are trying to counter these attacks, criminal hackers are becoming more innovative with the different types of cyber attacks they choose to deploy. 

What is a cyber attack?

Cyber attacks are deliberate and malicious. They are attempts to breach the information or information systems of individuals or organizations. The following list points out the six most common types of cyber attacks: 


Malware is malicious software used to breach information systems by exploiting network vulnerabilities. This usually happens when users click links and attachments that install harmful software.

There are different types of malware including spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. Malware can have a variety of malicious capabilities: 

  • It can block access to the network or parts of the network
  • It can install other malware
  • It can secretly copy data from the hard drive and transmit it
  • It can disrupt the system and make it inoperable

Malware is so prevalent that its nearly impossible to prevent altogether. However, web application penetration testing is an essential starting point.

These tests identify vulnerabilities within an organization’s website before cyber criminals can exploit them.  


Phishing is a social engineering attack entailing fraudulent communications appearing to come from a trusted source.

Attempts to steal sensitive information or trick people into installing malware often come via email.

Phishing is the leading cause of cyber attacks worldwide. As such, staff must be trained to recognize phishing attacks and what to do when they receive a phishing email.

Our Phishing Staff Awareness Course will prepare your employees to be alert, vigilant, and secure.  

Man-in-the-middle attack 

A MITM (man-in-the-middle) attack is where the attacker intercepts and relays messages between two parties who believe they are interacting with one another.

It is also known as an eavesdropping attack. Once attackers are in the conversation, they can filter, manipulate, and steal sensitive information. 

One way to protect your organization from such attacks is to encrypt data. Companies should also put in place auditing and monitoring so that they are kept aware of staff activities. Learn more about how your organization can implement effective information audits.  

Distributed denial-of-service attack 

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks bombard an organization’s central server with simultaneous data requests. Multiple compromised systems are used to generate these data requests.

A DDoS attack aims to stop the server from fulfilling legitimate requests, providing a situation for criminal hackers to extort the victim for money. 

The timeline of a DDoS attack can vary, with 15% of attacks lasting as long as a month.

Blindly implementing solutions to protect against DDoS attacks only resolves the immediate problem and leaves vulnerabilities in the system.

Using a risk assessment tool takes a strategic approach to identify areas of vulnerability for DDoS attacks.  

SQL injection 

SQL (Structured Query Language) is used in programming and is designed to manage data in relational database management systems.

During SQL injections, criminal hackers insert malicious code into the server that uses SQL, which makes the server reveal sensitive information.  

SQL injections can be prevented by monitoring users in the application with whitelisting and blacklisting. They can also be protected against using network prevention systems such as firewalls. 

Zero-day exploit 

When a network vulnerability is announced, there is a window of time before a patch or solution is used to fix it. Within that timeframe, cyber attackers will exploit the vulnerability. 

Constant monitoring is necessary in order to protect against this form of cyber attack. Infrastructure penetration testing can identify your network’s vulnerabilities before cyber criminals do.  

Cyber attack prevention 

Cyber crime is something all organisations must prepare for – no matter what size they are or sector they are in. But how can you mitigate the risk?

For many, cyber security begins and ends with purchasing software and maintaining technical defences. Although these are essential measures, you cannot overlook the role your employees play in protecting your sensitive assets.

After all, they are the ones interacting with your systems every day, potentially receiving malware in phishing emails or exposing their passwords, giving criminals access to your systems.

To prevent these kinds of mistakes, you need the kind of educated and informed workforce that results from our Complete Staff Awareness E-learning Suite.

A cost-effective way of managing all your staff awareness training in one place, the complete suite contains eight e-learning courses to help you transform your employees from threats to assets.

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