Thursday, December 24, 2015

Types of Cyber Attacks

Types of Cyber Attacks

There are several effective methods for disrupting computer systems. We are talking of a method known as cyber attack, or computer network attack , which uses malicious computer code to disrupt computer processing, or steal data. 
A brief description of three different methods are shown here. However, as technology changes, future distinctions between these methods may begin to blur.
An attack against computers may be targeted or un-targeted
(i) disrupt equipment and hardware reliability, (ii) change processing logic, or (iii) steal or corrupt data. The methods discussed here are chosen based on the technology asset against which each attack mode is directed, and the effects each method can produce. The assets affected or effects produced can sometimes overlap for different attack methods. 

  • Conventional kinetic weapons can be directed against computer equipment, a computer facility, or transmission lines to create a physical attack that disrupts the reliability of equipment. 
  • The power of electromagnetic energy, most commonly in the form of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), can be used to create an electronic attack (EA) directed against computer equipment or data transmissions. By overheating circuitry or jamming communications, EA disrupts the reliability of equipment and the integrity of data. 
  •  Malicious code can be used to create a cyber attack, or computer network attack , directed against computer processing code, instruction logic, or data. The code can generate a stream of malicious network packets that can disrupt data or logic through exploiting a vulnerability in computer software, or a weakness in the computer security practices of an organization. This type of cyber attack can disrupt the reliability of equipment, the integrity of data, and the confidentiality of communications.
Un-targeted attacks
 In un-targeted attacks, attackers indiscriminately target as many devices, services or users as possible. They do not care about who the victim is as there will be a number of machines or services with vulnerabilities. To do this, they use techniques that take advantage of the openness of the Internet, which include:

  • phishing - sending emails to large numbers of people asking for sensitive information (such as bank details) or encouraging them to visit a fake website 
  •  water holing - setting up a fake website or compromising a legitimate one in order to exploit visiting users 
  •  ransomware - which could include disseminating disk encrypting extortion malware 
  •  scanning - attacking wide swathes of the Internet at random


States, states sponsored hackers or cyber criminals interested in making money through fraud or from the sale of valuable information. Industrial competitors and foreign intelligence services, interested in gaining an economic advantage for their companies or countries. Hackers who find interfering with computer systems an enjoyable challenge. Hacktivists who wish to attack companies for political or ideological motives. Employees, or those who have legitimate access, either by accidental or deliberate misuse. 

Stages of an attack 
A number of attack models describe the stages of a cyber attack (the Cyber Kill Chain® produced by Lockheed Martin is a popular example ). 
Simplified model that describes the four main stages present in most cyber attacks: 

  • Survey - investigating and analysing available information about the target in order to identify potential vulnerabilities 
  •  Delivery - getting to the point in a system where a vulnerability can be exploited 
  •  Breach - exploiting the vulnerability/vulnerabilities to gain some form of unauthorised access 
  •  Affect - carrying out activities within a system that achieve the attacker’s goal Survey Attackers will use any means available 
Cyber Attacks Allegedly Targeted Power Stations in Ukraine 
A cyber attack last month in Ukraine caused a significant portion of the
country's power grid to go offline. 
This attack, if verified, is a window into the future of cyber warfare.  At the start of any modern military campaign, a primary objective of the aggressor is to "take out power and communications" by
blowing up power plants and communications hubs. This is a top priority because, once power and communications are disabled, a country's ability to coordinate defense and mount counter attacks is severely disabled.
Cyber weapons can be pre-positioned inside power companies to do the job of a missile, before a nation even knows it is under attack. U.S. Power Systems' computers have been breached and infected first by Russian hackers and later by other adversaries. Some of the malware they installed is likely still in place and being updated as more attackers attempt to gain control.

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