Four Types of Unconventional Cybersecurity Threats And How To Defend From Them

Cybersecurity threats affect businesses and individuals through a variety of forms, with the most common being phishing, ransomware, social engineering, and viruses. Over time, we have learned to spot and prevent these attacks from happening, and companies have even taken preventative measures to increase security. However, while many cybersecurity defenses have emerged to prevent data theft and malicious activity, so have new cyberattacks.

Attackers are constantly finding workarounds to defenses and even waiting for the moment a security hole is found or a guard lowered.

Today, we’d like to take the time to analyze four uncommon cyberattacks that businesses may not know about. They stem from common types of cyberattacks known in the past, but are executed quite differently. Not only is it important to the individual to defend from these cybersecurity threats, but it’s just as important for businesses! How to grow a business depends on the knowledge it carries to handle cybersecurity threats.

Which of the following uncommon types of cyberattacks are you familiar with? 

 

Crytpojacking

Currency has developed a strong digital presence with the emergence of cryptocurrency, with more individuals investing in crypto and even implementing it into their transactions. Millions of dollars have been made from investing in crypto currencies or from ‘crypto mining’ where a computer uses its processing power to solve complex algorithms and is rewarded with currency. 

Crypto mining can be a tedious process for many, which often leads attackers to take extreme measures. Thus, they began to implement what is known as ‘cryptojacking’.

Cryptojacking is the method of illegally mining cryptocurrency using a victim’s computer to significantly speed up the mining process. Attackers can have access through phishing attempts, where an attacker lures a person to click a link and download the crypto mining software. Acting as malware, cryptomining software is secretly installed on the victim’s computer and uses its processing power to mine more cryptocurrency.

Even a simple image download is enough to install the software. In 2020, cyberattackers exploited the death of Kobe Bryrant by uploading malicious code onto a wallpaper honoring him, which was downloaded by several users. As a result, this code downloaded crypto mining software on unsuspecting users. 

Other times, attackers are able to utilize a user’s web browser to run the software, just by visiting a certain web page. This is done when a legitimate website is compromised with the attacker’s JavaScript code or even uploading malicious advertising.

Attackers commit this type of cyberattack due to the extremely high costs to mine cryptocurrency. It requires a large amount of processing power, which one person alone does not have to make a significant amount of returns. Thus, attackers generally target a large number of users in order to significantly speed up the crypto mining process and increase their earnings. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of an innocent individual’s device. Should a file accidentally be spread company-wide, it could be detrimental to the speed and efficiency of a business.

 

Could your business benefit from a free cybersecurity audit? We’d love to help!

 

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks

Social engineering occurs when an attacker poses as an employee from a trusted company and influences the victim to provide sensitive data. These types of attacks can easily be caught by assessing the verbal language and behavior of the poser and comparing it to the real company’s culture and processes.

But what happens when an attacker takes the form of a trusted application or website?

When you use any application or website, you are establishing a connection with the receiving party. Unfortunately, this connection may be intercepted by a malicious attacker and you may not even know it.

Man-in-the-middle attacks (MITM) occur when an attacker infiltrates a user’s connection to a program or network and begins to pose as that program. This is done through spoofing, where the attacker can direct the victim to a malicious website. The attacker can take this further by creating a fake certificate to pose as a legitimate website, which leads to the victim to not question the security of the website. 

In MITM attacks, the attacker can either lead you to another website or simply steal information, such as a username or password that you put directly into a trusted website. 

Another way these types of attacks can be carried out is through free Wi-Fi hotspots. To the average user, these hotspots seem normal, but the attacker is setting up for a MITM attack. With this method, any data that is entered into a website can now be intercepted by the attacker, and the user will likely not have noticed. 

Customers of hardware company Lenovo suffered MITM attacks in 2015, when Lenovo shipped out laptops with a malicious program that created a large security vulnerability. This allowed attackers on the same network to intercept browser usage and obtain sensitive information, regardless of what website they were on.

Even though you may think you are interacting with a legitimate and secure website, there is always the possibility of a ‘man in the middle’ intercepting your activity and data. When using or sharing sensitive data, be very observant of your internet connection and website/app, ensuring security certificates are valid, and there are no vulnerabilities in the software you’re using.

 

Drive-By Downloads

Sometimes, malware and viruses can be downloaded without your knowledge, as seen with crypto mining. You may have the ability to spot malicious links and prevent download in the first place, but some websites or apps, even legitimate ones, have malicious downloads that occur without your knowledge. 

Too frequently, websites, programs, and apps have security vulnerabilities that attackers take advantage of. A common practice among attackers is to gain access to sensitive information from these platforms, but a new practice is enabling attackers to attach malware on websites and apps. This is done by putting infected plugins, malicious JavaScript code, and even on advertisements with malware spread all throughout the website, similar to cryptotracking. 

Drive-by downloads can be either by authorized or unauthorized users. You may ask yourself, “why would I authorize a malicious download?” A user may download an innocent file that is disguised as malware. Other times, when you download one file, a user may be prompted to download other files as a bundle. More likely than not, these files are malicious, and downloading them will prove a threat to your device and data security.

The worst part of drive-by downloads is that there is little way to tell that it happened until it is too late. Users may think they’re using a protected website, but like with the other cyberattacks previously mentioned, such websites are already compromised, if not created for malicious intent. 

 

Want to learn a few more ways you can protect yourself from cyber attacks? Read this!

 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDos)

One cyberattack that has been around for years is the distributed denial of service, or DDos for short. DDos essentially blocks the user from accessing a server due to an overload of Internet traffic. Attackers accomplish this by establishing a botnet, which consists of thousands of devices that have been infected with malware. These bots are remotely controlled to overload traffic on a given server, essentially leading to a “denial of service”. 

DDos attacks not only have the capability of targeting and affecting a single user, but also large companies. A prime example of this dates back to 2013-2014 where a single attacker was able to bring down several video game servers, ranging from Sony’s Playstation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox servers, to Steam and even Nintendo. 

While DDos does not pose a major threat to data, merely serving as an inconvenience to the individual user, these attacks are detrimental to companies. Depending on the online service they offer, they could lose millions of dollars from their operating servers. It is also possible that other cyberattacks can occur during or after the fact, due to the company using its resources to fix the DDos attack.

 

How to Spot and Defend From These Cyberattacks

Even though the following cyberattacks may pose an easy threat to your devices and data, they are just as easy to defend from. 

  • Keep all platforms up-to-date. Any application or program you regularly use should be kept updated to its most recent version. Even if the update provides what seems to be no change, developers constantly release security patches to keep you and your data safe. Outdated websites and applications leave open security vulnerabilities for cyber attackers to take advantage of.
  • Install ad blockers and anti-malware add-ons. Many ads you run across during your browsing journey may be infected with malicious content. For the safety of your data, it is best to turn off all ads completely. This way, you reduce the risk of obliviously or accidentally clicking on an advertisement that seems innocent. Installing anti-malware add-ons on your browser also increases your protection should you browse on a website you may think is safe.
  • Check the security certificate of all websites you visit. The websites that pose the largest threats are the ones without a security certificate. If you are on these websites, proceed with caution, and do not give out any personal information. If you visit a website you feel uneasy about, check the security certificate next to the url in your browser and check the security information to make sure it’s valid.
  • Invest in a VPN for your internet connection. To prevent an attacker from intercepting your connection in MITM attacks and similar, make sure you have a VPN installed on your device. This secures your internet connection so you can browse safely without the threat of someone stealing or affecting your connection.
  • Consult with an IT professional. Sometimes, the emergence of new cybersecurity threats could be overwhelming. No need to stress; there are professionals out there trained to investigate and defend against new attacks. And that includes us! See what we can do for you and how we can help.

https://www.redpandasystems.com/about-us/; As long as technology continues to evolve and become more profitable, attackers will always be eager to make the next move. However, by investing in the proper security measures and educating yourself, fighting off cyberattacks will be much easier. And learning how to defend from is how to grow a business to its full potential. 

Want to increase your confidence in your cybersecurity? Contact us to have a peace of mind when it comes to your data. 

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