Types of Cybersecurity Attacks


Cybersecurity attacks are growing in frequency and cybercriminals are getting craftier with their techniques. In a digital world fraught with fraud, scams, and hackers, protecting yourself and your employees has never been more critical.

According to this Forbes article, cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of company networks. That’s why putting in the work to educate your employees and strengthen your online security can help prevent cyber-attacks from targeting your business.

There are many ways cybercriminals can scam their victims, some more common than others. By understanding how these cyber-attacks work, knowing the signs of an attack, and learning how to prevent them, you and your business can be better prepared for any external threats.


In this post, we’ll share eight cyber-attack examples along with the best ways to prevent them from happening.


What is Phishing?

Phishing takes place when criminals pose as trustworthy institutions or individuals and target victims by fraudulently contacting them in an attempt to steal information and/or funds.

Phishing is likely the most recognized cyber-attack example on this list. Phishing attacks are the most common form of cyber-attack – in fact, a new phishing site is created on the internet every 20 seconds and roughly 90% of security breaches in companies result from phishing attacks. These dangerous attacks look realistic enough but will quickly put your business in peril, leaving you vulnerable to a multitude of threats.

How to Prevent Phishing

  • There are a few easy ways to identify phishing attempts – check out this blog for common phishing tells.
  • Offering cybersecurity training can be the most effective way to protect your business. By ensuring your employees are tuned in to the risks of cybersecurity breaches and know how to prevent cyber-attacks, you can better protect your institution.
  • Double down on security measures by enabling multi-factor authentication protection on your network accounts and enable an email filtering solution to try to catch threats before they hit your inbox.


What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a deadly form of malware designed to encrypt files and then hold those files for ransom from the owner. Ransomware criminals continue to update and evolve their tactics, making it more difficult to eradicate the malware once it has invaded your network. Phishing emails are a common cause of ransomware infections.

This type of attack is growing steadily and cybercriminals are growing more sophisticated in their tactics. Ransomware is a part of 10% of all breaches and that number just keeps growing. Case in point, it doubled in frequency from 2020 to 2021.

How to Prevent Ransomware

  • Back up your data in an offline location so that even if you do fall victim to a ransomware data breach, you’ll still have your files and won’t have to succumb to any ransom demands.
  • Use security software to perform scans of your network on a regular basis.
  • Update your software to make sure you don’t have any security patches and your systems are operating at top performance.


What is Spyware?

Spyware is malicious software installed on your device without your consent. Once on your device, it can gain access to your personal information and can send it on to other parties.

Spyware can come in many different forms, from internet tracking to the more fear-inducing trojan (this software appears as a legitimate file or software download). There are also many different ways spyware can plague your device.

Fortunately, not all spyware is inherently bad. Adware, for example, is a type of spyware that tracks your browser history for marketing purposes. But making sure you’re aware of spyware’s existence and the potential harm it can cause is critical to protecting your company.

How to Prevent Spyware

  • Use antivirus software that can detect spyware and will warn you before you download or click something.
  • Don’t click on pop-up ads or download attachments from senders you don’t know.


What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering attacks use human interactions and errors to trick users into giving up private information, account access, or money. An attacker may come off as harmless by pretending to be someone they’re not, offering credentials, and seeming trustworthy. But after they ask a string of questions, they’ll be able to get the information they need to infiltrate an organization’s network.

According to Firewall Times, the average organization is targeted by over 700 social engineering attacks per year. While this isn’t as widespread as phishing, it’s something to be watchful of as just one employee giving away vital information to a cybercriminal can result in major repercussions.

How to Prevent Social Engineering

  • Conduct security awareness training with your employees to educate them on the common tricks cybercriminals use and the importance of not sharing confidential information with strangers.
  • Heighten security both online with security software and in person at your office building, if applicable.
  • Enable 2-factor authentication to prevent hackers from getting through.


What is a Man in the Middle Attack?

This cyber-attack is a form of eavesdropping where an attacker hijacks an existing conversation and pretends to be both legitimate participants, allowing them to collect information from both parties while also sending malicious links or information. From this position, the attacker can collect confidential information.

As of this writing, roughly 35% of cyber-attacks involve man-in-the-middle exploitation.

How to Prevent Man in the Middle

  • Set up a VPN to encrypt the data you send online, stopping Man in the Middle attacks from infiltrating network traffic.
  • Only use websites that have a secure HTTP connection (https://, not http://).
  • Educate your employees on all types of cyber-attacks and what to watch out for.


What is SQL Injection?

SQL injections are cyber-attacks that inject malicious SQL code into an application, allowing the attacker to view and modify the application. SQL injection is the third most serious type of cyber-attack.

These types of attacks come in various forms and can compromise whole databases, making the risk for businesses very high.

How to Prevent SQL Injection

  • Stay current on [software updates].
  • Don’t share database accounts across applications and only allow the necessary privileges.
  • Following proper security measures is the most effective way to prevent SQL injection attacks.


What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking is a cybercrime in which a criminal uses a victim’s device to generate cryptocurrency unknown to the victim. When a user unknowingly installs malicious software or clicks an unknown link or attachment, the criminal can then create, or ‘mine’, cryptocurrencies.

The primary concern for the victim is stolen device power which can result in slower device speed, higher electricity bills, and overheating of batteries.

How to Prevent Cryptojacking

  • Monitor your device’s speed and power usage for signs of an attack.
  • Install the latest software updates to prevent hackers from getting through.


What is a Watering Hole Attack?

This less-common cyber-attack involves a cyber-criminal targeting an individual or group of individuals who are part of an organization or institution. The criminal profiles this group and then tracks websites that the target(s) frequently visit(s) and then infects those websites with malware. That malware then infects the user’s device, giving the criminal access to personal information and compromising the greater institution.

These attacks are much more infrequent, but as part of the growing list of cyber-attack tactics, they should still be taken very seriously.

How to Prevent Watering Hole Attacks

  • Install a VPN to protect company software from getting compromised by malware by concealing online activities.
  • Regularly update your software to prevent any breaches.


While this is a rather long list, it’s far from an exhaustive list of all the dangerous types of cyber-attacks plaguing the internet. Protecting yourself, your employees, and your business from cybercriminals should be ranked high on your list of priorities.

Don’t let your information, data, and funds get compromised – monitor your security, keep software updated, and educate your employees today!


Whizkids’ cybersecurity services keep organizations ahead of evolving threats and handle businesses’ online safety. With full-service protection including endpoint detection and response (EDR), email security, identity as a service (IDaaS), lumberjack monitoring, and detective analytics, we are fully equipped to safeguard your business from any and all online threats. Reach out today to learn more!