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Top 5 types of cyberattacks and how to defend your business

Tracking evolving and rising cyberattacks is crucial to better cybersecurity. Recent data breaches indicate businesses in different industries are at risk of cyberattacks at any time. The latest figures reveal that cybercrime affected 3.7 million people in 2017 in the UAE, costing the country AED4 billion. Due to this, it’s important to ensure your IT team can identify and detect the most harmful cybersecurity threats against your company. Here are the top 5 types of cyberattacks and how to defend your business.

What is a cybersecurity threat?

Cybersecurity is a malicious attack that seeks to access and damage data unlawfully. Cyber threats can originate from disgruntled workers, criminal organizations, hostile nation-states, and hacktivists. In recent years, high-profile cyber attacks have resulted in private information being stolen. 

For instance, the 2017 Equifax breach exposed the personal information of about 143 million customers, including Social Security numbers, addresses, and birth dates. In 2018, Marriot International revealed that cybercriminals gained access to its servers and destroyed the data of about 500 million consumers.

In both scenarios, the threat was enabled by the company’s failure to implement and test technical safeguards like authentication, firewalls, and encryption. Hackers can use an organization’s sensitive information to steal data and perform damaging actions, which is why detecting threats is essential to keep private data protected. 

5 types of cybersecurity threats businesses need to prepare for

Cyberattacks hit businesses every day, and the variety of threats has increased quickly. Your cybersecurity team should be knowledgeable about the following types of threats to protect your business.

  1. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks

A distributed denial-of-service attack is an attack on your system’s resources. However, it’s launched from multiple host computers that are infected by harmful software controlled by the attackers. A DoS attack overwhelms your system’s resources so that it fails to respond to service requests.

Unlike an attack that’s designed to allow the attackers to increase or gain access, DoS doesn’t offer direct benefits for attackers. For some attackers, having the satisfaction of service denial is enough. However, if the attacked resources belong to a competitor, then the advantage to the attackers may be enough. DoS attacks can also be launched to take servers offline so that different attacks can be carried out.

  1. Drive-by attack

Drive-by download attacks are used by criminals to spread malware. Criminals look for insecure sites and plant harmful scripts into PHP or HTTP code on one of the website’s pages. The scripts can install malware directly onto the server or someone who visits the website, or it can redirect the victim onto a website controlled by the criminals.

Drive-by downloads can occur when viewing email messages or visiting a site. Unlike other types of attacks, a drive-by doesn’t depend on users to open malicious email attachments or click a download button to enable the attack. Drive-by downloads take advantage of web browsers, operating systems, and apps with security flaws due to lack of or unsuccessful updates.   

  1. Phishing and spear-phishing attacks

Phishing attacks combine technical trickery and social engineering and involve attachments to email messages that load malware onto your server. It can also be a link to illegitimate sites that trick you into providing your personal data or downloading malware.

In a spear-phishing attack, criminals spend time researching targets and creating personalized and relevant messages that appear they’re coming from someone you know, like your partner company, making spear phishing difficult to identify and defend against. Hackers also copy legitimate websites to fool you into handing over login credentials or personally identifiable information.

  1. SQL injection attack

An SQL injection happens when a malefactor executes an SQL query to databases through the input information via the client to the computer. Hackers insert SQL commands into data-plane input to run predefined SQL commands. Successful SQL injection exploits can read private information from databases, modify the database data (delete, update or insert), execute administration operations like shutting down the database, issue commands to the operating system, and recover the content of the requested files. 

For instance, a web form on a site can request a user’s account name and send it to the database to pull up more information associated with the account using dynamic SQL. While this may work for users who are entering their account numbers properly, it leaves holes for criminals.

  1. Password attack

Obtaining passwords is an effective and common attack approach because passwords are used to authenticate users to information systems. Access to users’ passwords can be obtained by “sniffing” the network connection to acquire unencrypted passwords, gaining access to password databases, guessing in a systematic or random manner, or using social engineering. 

How to protect your organization from cyberattacks

Mitigating the above threats and spotting infrastructure weaknesses requires ongoing vigilance. Follow these steps to effectively protect your company against cyberattacks.

  • Limit employee access to your information – Employees should only access the data and system they need to perform their tasks. If a worker leaves your company, delete accounts and passwords from all servers and collect company entry keys and ID badges.
  • Patch your software and operating systems regularly – Evey new application can open the door to cyberattacks if you don’t regularly update and patch all software on computers used by your workers. When installing new software systems or buying new computers, always check for updates.
  • Install and activate hardware and software firewalls – Install and update firewall systems on all networked device and employee smartphone/computer. The SonicWALL Security Appliance Firewalls can stop workers from browsing inappropriate sites and thwart malicious criminals. 
  • Set up email and web filters – These filters can help you prevent spam from clogging your workers inboxes and deter attackers. Also download “blacklist” services to prevent employees from browsing harmful sites  that pose malware risks.
  • Use encryption for private business data – Use encryption to protect your devices and store a copy of your encryption key or password in a secure place seperate from your stored backups. Avoid sending the key or password to your email recepients. Send it to them via the phone.


Maclean Odiesa
Maclean Odiesa
Maclean is a tech freelance writer with 7+ years in content strategy and development. She is also a pillar pages specialist and SEO expert.

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