The Top Cyber Attacks To Watch Out For

The Top Cyber Attacks To Watch Out For


It feels like cyber attacks are constantly headline news, but what actually are they and what are some common examples to watch out for? From spam to phishing and espionage, get the low down on what to look out for and how to stay safe online.

Not to be confused with the brand of canned cooked meat! Refers to electronic junk mail or junk postings across social media and meet up groups. Some people also refer to SPAM as unsolicited messages.

Where does it happen? Across email, phone, instant messaging platforms like Slack and Whatsapp, YouTube comments, Blog comments, etc.

Example: Trolling and fake reviews for products or services. 

A loaded term. It's also known as data privacy or protection. The big challenge surrounding privacy is how to protect an individual's identifiable information from third parties such as bank details, contact lists and personal photos online. 

Where does it happen? As more and more of our lives go online, the way we define date ranges from documents and pictures on our smart phones and laptops, to our browsing history, call history and even purchase history. Other examples of data collected includes: eavesdropping on devices like Google Home, Siri, smart phone cameras and smart phone microphones. It also involves email history, email messages, location trackers and history from maps and fitness trackers, health history, and bank and credit card information stored online. 

Example: Marriott Hotel's database got hacked which exposed millions of their guest's personal information. Read more here

Stealing financial data without consent. Typically refers to hacking with malicious intent and financial gain.

Where does it happen? Just like IRL, theft online involves stealing someone's personal or business details without their knowledge. Hackers will steal bank or credit card information without the victim's knowledge through breaching databases or networks.

Example: Hacking into someone's internet connection without consent or paying. 

Fraud by means of deception, process and intent. When you are tricked online, on the phone or by other means to reveal important information about your data. 

Where does it happen? Fraud is anything from scams to phishing, to impersonation and identity theft. Phishing and scams can take place via email, Facebook, Buy/Sell websites like Gumtree or Ebay, or even by telephone. Fraud can also happen inside workplaces when staff steal from an employer.

Example: Someone calling you pretending to be your bank provider and getting your details to then use these against you or steal money from your account.

The process of obtaining something (think things like money and services) through force or threats. 

Where does it happen? Ransomware where someone threatens to delete your data, OR reveal your private data is common. Sadly a lot of vulnerable victims of extortion include health care providers and hospitals - all of which tend to give into blackmail because otherwise patients are at risk.

Example: Popular female celebrities like Emma Watson have had their private photos hacked and leaked online. Read more here.

The act or practice of obtaining confidential and secret information from organisations or government bodies. 

Where does it happen? Every country is involved in espionage some way or another to protect themselves. However, there is also corporate espionage (where companies trade secrets) and cyber attacks to access government secrets or military information.

Example: The New York Times recently published a case study on how spies from China got the N.S.A.'s hacking tools and used them for attacks. Read more here.

Another loaded term! At its very core, chaos is acts of complete disorder and confusion.dangerous part is about _gaining control_ of key systems rather than accessing information

Where does it happen? In terms of cyber, chaos happens when terrorists, hacktivists or even whistleblowers gain control of key systems through accessing confidential information that has huge negative effects on a society, community or state. Acts of chaos include bringing down important websites (i.e. Government or Banks), bringing down infrastructure like airports, transport systems or power plants down, or even contributing to economic disruption inside financial institutions that make civilians vulnerable.

Examples: Have you heard of Julian Assange


Categorising and defining cyber attacks is difficult due to their broad and ever-changing nature. One of the many reasons that the huge gap in skills within the cyber security industry is so troubling, is that a lot of forms of attacks that threaten our futures don't exist yet - or, even more worryingly, exist but we simply are not aware of them yet. Plus, with a black market for so-called "Zero-Day exploits" allowing anyone to break into anything for the right place, the lengths black hat hackers will go to are endless. 

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