An attempt by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system is called a cyber attack. It is any type of offensive manoeuvre employed by nation-states, individuals, groups, or organizations that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, and/or personal computer devices by various means of malicious acts usually originating from an anonymous source that either steals, alters, or destroys a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system. Cyber attacks use malicious code to alter computer code, logic or data, resulting in disruptive consequences that can compromise data and lead to cybercrimes, such as information and identity theft. Cyber attack is also known as a computer network attack (CNA)
Three factors contribute to why cyber-attacks are launched against a state or an individual: the fear factor, spectacular factor, and vulnerability factor.
- Fear Factor
The most common, fear factor, a cyber-terrorist will create fear amongst individuals, groups, or societies. The bombing of a Bali nightclub in 2002 created fear amongst the foreign tourists who frequently visited the venue. Once the bomb went off and casualties ensued, the influx of tourists to Bali significantly reduced due to fear of death. Korstanje Maximiliano argues that cyber-terrorism is not very different than terrorism. Basically, cyber-attacks are aimed at instilling fear in order to impose demands or claims of any type.
- Spectacular Factor
With spectacular factors, it is the actual damage of the attack, meaning the attacks created direct losses and gained negative publicity. In 1999 a denial of service attack rendered Amazon.com unusable. Amazon experienced cyber utas losses because of suspended trading and it was publicized worldwide.
- Vulnerability Factor
Vulnerability factor exploits how vulnerable an organization or government establishment is to cyber-attacks. An organization can be vulnerable to a denial of service attack, and a government establishment can be defaced on a web page. A computer network attack disrupts the integrity or authenticity of data, usually through malicious code that alters program logic that controls data, leading to errors in output.
In detail, there are a number of techniques to utilize in cyber-attacks and a variety of ways to administer them to individuals or establishments on a broader scale. Attacks are broken down into two categories: syntactic attacks and semantic attacks. Syntactic attacks are straightforward; it is considered malicious software which includes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.
A virus is a self-replicating program that can attach itself to another program or file in order to reproduce. The virus can hide in unlikely locations in the memory of a computer system and attach itself to whatever file it sees fit to execute its code. It can also change its digital footprint each time it replicates making it harder to track down in the computer.
A worm does not need another file or program to copy itself; it is a self-sustaining running program. Worms replicate over a network using protocols. The latest incarnation of worms makes use of known vulnerabilities in systems to penetrate, execute their code, and replicate to other systems such as the Code Red II worm that infected more than 259 000 systems in less than 14 hours.
A Trojan horse is designed to perform legitimate tasks but it also performs an unknown and unwanted activity. It can be the basis of many viruses and worms installing onto the computer as keyboard loggers and backdoor software. In a commercial sense, Trojans can be embedded in trial versions of software and can gather additional intelligence about the target without the person even knowing it happening. All three of these are likely to attack an individual and establishment through emails, web browsers, chat clients, remote software, and updates.
A semantic attack is the modification and dissemination of correct and incorrect information. Information modified could have been done without the use of computers even though new opportunities can be found by using them. To set someone in the wrong direction or to cover your tracks, the dissemination of incorrect information can be utilized.
Following points should be kept in mind if you want to prevent cyber attacks:
- Make sure you’ve got a super strong, unique password.In other words, ensure that your password is difficult to guess. One way to come up with a creative password is to brainstorm a random sentence. Take the first letter of each word in that sentence and use that acronym as the base for your password.
- Don’t use the same password for multiple services.Using the same term for all of your passwords leaves your entire digital life vulnerable to attack. This means that if a hacker has one password, he or she has all of your passwords.
- Enable two-factor authentication.Many services, including Google, offer two-factor authentication for logging into your account. Instead of simply entering a username and password to log in, the website will prompt you to enter a code sent to your smartphone to verify your identity.
- Apply software updates when necessary.Apple, Google, and Microsoft typically include security bug fixes and patches in their most recent software updates. So don’t ignore those annoying prompts and keep your software up-to-date.
- Carefully read the permissions before installing apps.This is one of the most prominent ways in which malicious apps can gain access to your personal information. These types of issues have been especially present in the Google Play store. A lot of apps ask for a lengthy list of permissions, and that doesn’t mean they’re all ill-intentioned. But it’s important to be aware of the types of information your apps are accessing, which can include your contacts, location, and even your phone’s camera.
- Check the app publisher before installing.There have been numerous instances in which scammers have published apps in the Google Play store posing as another popular app
- Avoid inserting hard drives and thumb drives you don’t trust into your computer. If you find a random USB stick, don’t let your curiosity tempt you to plug it in. Someone could have loaded malware on it hoping that an interested person was careless enough to insert it into their device. If you don’t trust the source, you’re better off not putting your computer at risk.
- Make sure a website is secure before you enter personal information.Look for the little padlock symbol in front of the web address in the URL bar. Also, make sure the web address starts with the prefix https://. If these things aren’t there, then the network isn’t secure and you shouldn’t enter any data you wouldn’t want to be made public.
- Don’t send personal data via email.Sending critical information such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers puts it at risk of being intercepted by hackers or cyber attacks.
- Keep an eye out for phishing scams.A phishing scam is an email or website that’s designed to steal from you. Often times, a hacker will use this email or website to install malicious software on your computer. These web entities are designed to look like a normal email or website, which is how hackers convince their victims to hand over personal information. Phishing scams are typically easy to spot, but you should know what to look out for. Many of these emails contain spell errors and are written in poor grammar.
- Avoid logging into your important accounts on public computers.Sometimes you’ve got no choice but to use a computer at the coffee shop, library, or local FedEx. But try not to do it frequently, and make sure you completely wipe the browser’s history when you’re finished.
- Back up your personal files to avoid losing them.You should keep a copy of all important files in the cloud and on some sort of hard drive. If one of them gets hacked or damaged, you’ll still have a backup copy.
So, cyber attacks take place every now and then. We should keep all the points mentioned above in our minds so that we can prevent them. Our safety is in our hands.
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