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Different Types of Computer Attacks you Need to Know

Different Types of Computer Attacks you Need to Know

Let's talk about different types of computer attacks. Now, these are not necessarily things you should be worried about on a day-to-day basis. You're not gonna come across all of these very often. And some of the more advanced ones we can talk about towards the end you really are not gonna be concerned with. Those are more like server-side, business-side attacks but they're still useful to know about just out of interest. So you can get a better idea and just have a general better sense of security and best practices. Or you might just find it kind of interesting. 
You may have heard of some of these before.

11 Different Types of Computer Attacks

1. Phishing

One of the most well-known ones you probably already do know about it. And if you don't then this is definitely want to pay attention to is phishing. This is an essential one to know about. This is basically where a fake website is set up where you are tricked into entering your real password credentials into a fake website. So a lot of times you can get an email. For example, you might get a search result in Google that is a fake result that links to what you think is Amazon or Amazon listing. But it's like Amazon something .com where they add in little stuff to trick you into thinking it without looking. And then eventually it looks like the real website design. It like that.

And then you input your credentials and then they have it. And then obviously they can either use that login credential to log in themselves and maybe order things through your real Amazon account. Or they might just bundle up all the credentials they collect and sell them on the dark web. And then a lot of times hackers will buy those databases or just search through them and try that same.

So that might be one database on several different websites because they know a lot of people use the same login. So it's definitely important. This is why you want to check the URL for links you're clicking or don't click suspicious links because it might seem legitimate. And then you type in your information and they get you.

2. Spear Phishing

Now to go further with the metaphor you could say that phishing is more of a wide net cast whereas there's another type of phishing called spear phishing which is where the hacker or attacker will specifically target a very small group of people or one individual person. And this is a lot harder to detect because a lot of times they will if they're targeting a specific company or a specific department within a company they may handcraft the spam email or the scam email that has a lot of relevant information where it's difficult to detect that it is a scam email because it may be very very similar to a lot of common emails that Department may receive.

For example, I don't know. Maybe it's a sales Department at, an audio equipment company. They may get a request that is a sales request for big order. And they say Oh can you log in to this page where we want to place the order? I don't know. You get the idea. That's completely wrong obviously. But it's an example where they may target a specific group of people and they may name that person by name.

They do a lot of research about the company they're sending it to so it may come from a competitor's email address or something similar to that. It just makes it much more likely to increase the trust if they use terminology and things that the person or the victim will recognize.

3. Whaling

Now, this next type of attack you may have not have heard of before and the name is kind of funny. It's called whaling. And it's basically when an attacker goes towards a high-profile target a company. So they may go after executives like CEOs the CTO the chief technology officer. They'll go after high-level individuals within an organization. It's kind of like spear-phishing actually. But just for a specific high-value target.

And a simple reason for that is because if you can get the login credentials or whatever for a powerful person son within a company obviously you can probably do a lot more damage. If you are able to impersonate that person you might be able to get a lower-ranking employee to I don't know transfer a bunch of money and say Oh we got this big sale send the money to this person and the lower level employee will believe it because they don't want to go against what the CEO says something like that.

So whaling is basically just kind of like spear-phishing except it doesn't have to be collecting fake website credentials. It could be just targeting through any number of me means the phone and email stuff like that.

4. Vishing

Now speaking of the phone there is yet another type of attack called vishing which is basically voice vishing. So instead of sending an email to send them to a fake website they may call up impersonate another employee impersonate a certain company and say even Oh we have a fraud alert and pretend to be a fraud alert and say Oh what is the email address and pin number associated with this account? You probably heard of these types of attacks that's called voice phishing.

It's another form of social engineering where basically it's like a confidence trick where they just talk the person into doing what they want. And in this form, it just happens to be over the phone. So all those that we've talked about so far are some form of social engineering where you kind of trick someone into doing something. But the next couple are more computer-based attacks purely.

5. Password Attacks

Now for the next type of attack Let's say for example a hacker breaks into a website server and downloads the databases of username and passwords. Usually, the password will be hashed. They're kind of encrypted so it's not like they're stored in plain text. And the hacker will have to first be able to decrypt those passwords before it can actually use them to log in and try their websites. And there's a few different ways that the hacker might do this. One thing a hacker might do is try to brute force the passwords. So what they'll do is compare the hash of a randomly generated or sequentially generated string of characters and numbers and then compare it to the hash.

Is that it downloads. And when there's a match then it knows that that person's hash is actually this password. So with a brute force attack what the left do is literally try every single possible combination and they'll try it on all the passwords at once presumably or compare as many as possible. So they'll start off with A then B then C then the AA AB AC. You get the idea and this will probably take a very long time. So instead what a lot of hackers will do is what's called a dictionary attack.

They'll have a literal distortionary that will first maybe try a ton maybe even millions of common passwords and then try to unlock all the common passwords that people have used that are very weak like literally, password one is probably one of the first passwords that will be decrypted and then they'll have the logins and passwords or everyone to use that weak password.

  • So that's reason number one why you don't want to use a very common word or phrase for a password.
  • But there's also another way they could kind of combine a dictionary attack with a brute force attack. What they might do is take a dictionary attack and then kind of brute force it with additional characters.

So maybe they'll take the word password and then brute force a bunch of different characters at the end for people who maybe chose the password 1 2 3 4 or something like that instead of password 1 because they use the password word in there at all. Then the hacker pretty much already had half that password done. And because the rest of the password is very weak then it almost negated the fact that the password was kind no longer. So it's almost just as bad if they had used the password 1 2 3 4 something very weak like that. And they might even do combinations of words. So password.

And I don't know whatever word you can imagine they'll kind of combine those in different combinations and the computer if it's fast enough we'll be able to try these millions and millions of combinations. So you might think Oh what are the odds they're going to try these two random words that I chose together? Well probably pretty good. If your password is in the dictionary then it's probably not as strong as you might think at all.

And this is usually the reason why I suggested why you want to use as many different types of characters as capital, lowercase, special characters, especially because special characters are not really in the dictionary. So that's another set of characters they have to include. It just makes it way more time-consuming for your password to be cracked.

So hopefully the hacker will kind of give up and say okay I have enough passwords before they kind of get to yours if it makes sense because you have to realize the hacker doesn't necessarily have to decrypt all the passwords at once they might go one by and try to do all the weak ones mostly.

6. Man-in-the-middle

This is basically where a hacker will compromise a certain computer and basically trick the victim's computer into sending all its data to the compromised hacked server first before forwarding it to the final destination. A lot of times this can be done using what's called ARP poisoning address resolution protocol poisoning where basically the hacked computer will literally tell the victim's computer that I am the server that it's looking for.

And then so the victim's computer will first send all the data that it wants to the hacked server and then forward it to the destination server which could be a website or something like that. And then it will also because it's forwarding to the destination server, the destination server will think that the hacked server is the one making the request. So I'll send all the data back through the hacked server first and then the hacked server will send it to the victim's computer.

So the victim's computer doesn't know that it's not talking directly to the hacked server so it can kind of collect all the information in between. They could be login credentials or whatever is not encrypted. So this is a very important reason why if you're making an online purchase is or you're dealing with sensitive information like going on a Bank website it's very important to use an encrypted website using HTTPS.

You want to make sure that the URL is the encrypted version that way even if there is a man-in-the-middle attack the encryption happens between your computer and the server and there's just technology in there. Then make sure that even if someone kind of collects that information forwards it on only the initiating server which is you and the destination server can decrypt the information.

7. Man in the browser attack

Now there is a kind of variation of the man in the middle attack called a man in the browser attack. And this is a kind of similar idea but just different in implementation. So with the man in the middle attack, there's a completely separate server basically outside your network that is collecting information and forwarding it on wherewith the man in the browser attack some type of malware has infected your actual local computer that is making the request itself and it's basically setting up a local proxy on your computer.

So instead of your information being sent to a hacked server, it's first being kind of I sent to the local program on your computer, and then the program is sending the request instead of your actual browser. So it's kind of similar except the collection and stealing of the data is actually occurring on your same computer. And then the program sends all the collected data and stolen stuff to the hackers, creators on the internet.

8. Denial of Service

You probably don't have to worry about these are more types of attacks that happen towards servers and enterprise levels, not individual people. And the first couple are denial of service attacks DoS and distributed denial of service attacks or DDoS. And this is when a hacker in the case of a denial of service attack will basically flood the server with so much data and so many requests that it essentially overloads the server and it can't respond to requests from real people. And in this case, the server will presumably be offline as long as the hacker sustains this attack.

Now obviously this is going to be limited by the hacker's bandwidth. So what a lot of times they'll do is a DDoS a distributed denial of service attack where the hacker will use what's called a botnet which is basically a big group of zombie computers or hack servers that has been collected ahead of time using a virus or a Trojan where the hacker will have control of a bunch of computers around the world and they will all pile on to one individual server that the hacker wants to attack.

And this is a lot easier to sustain much larger attacks because now you're not just limited by the one hacker's bandwidth but all the combined attack bandwidth of all the computers that it has. So these are very common actually. And there are ways to mitigate against it.

For example, there's companies like Cloudflare where their entire purpose, not their entire purpose. One service they offer is to basically distribute the required load across many different major powerful servers around the world. So if there is a denial of service attack then it can use its distributed bandwidth across the world to kind of absorb it and keep the website online even if it's under attack.

9. SQL Injection

This is basically when a website uses some kind of database and there is an input field for information it goes into that database. So a lot of times this type of database is SQL. That's just the technology behind it. Normally when you type in information into a field that's going to be entered into that database it's expecting to just have some information like I don't your name address whatever. But if the website is not configured properly then what a hacker will do is actually enter a command into the information input box.

So when the backend server processes that box it's going to take that input and see the command and actually run the command not just input the data. And if this is possible there's a lot of things that the hacker can do that are very malicious. There's one example of the command drop table which basically will delete the entire database or the entire row. I'm not entirely sure but you can delete a ton of data and basically destroy the database just because someone was able to enter in a command into that field they're not supposed to be able to.

10. Cross-site scripting

Speaking of incorrectly set up websites another type of attack is called cross-site scripting. And one example of this is called a stored cross-site scripting attack where basically save there's a comment section and obviously that's expected to just have people leaving comments. Oh, this is a very good article. Whatever. Instead of leaving a comment if it's not set up correctly, an attacker could actually leave some kind of code in there like an HTML code or even a script that will be run.

And then because the browser goes in that website and it seems that script going on it doesn't know that it's just a comments section and it's not supposed to be able to run a script that there's not supposed to be a script in there. It just runs all the code on the website and then it also runs that script in the comment section. It could be a malicious script and it's called a stored cross-site scripting attack because that script is actually stored onto that website permanently until the person realizes and deletes it.

11. Reflected attack

A reflected attack and this is a little bit different. So you might not have realized that you can actually often on some websites craft the URL such that it will automatically input data into an input field on the website just from the direct link. So when you go on a website it'll automatically have some stuff filled out. This is a legitimate purpose. A lot of times you might get a link that says Here's the link with the information already filled out you just have to click Submit. But obviously, this could be taken advantage of from a hacker where they might include a malicious script in that URL.

And the reason for this is it kind of gets the website to execute the script because the browser trusts the website. So say there's some malicious script that steals your password word in the URL that you click on in an email that you don't trust. It goes to that website and it inputs it into a search box or something. You either run it or maybe they can make it run automatically. The browser then sees that script on the website thinks it's part of the website again and runs it.

And then you were taken advantage of because this script was kind of injected into the URL that you clicked on. And then I used the website to kind of reflect it back instead of trying to run it through the email client or something like that.


The way to defend against these types of attacks is is very simple. Keep your browser and your computer up to date Google who creates Google Chrome. They know about these types of attacks so they build in safeguards. But if there's a new type of way they can exploit it that is not in the most recent update that you have then you might be able to fall victim to it until it is patched. So just keep your information updated and most of this stuff you don't have to worry about it at all.

So anyway those are the attacks that we're going to talk about. This is not an exhaustive list just some of the more interesting ones that I'm capable of explaining I think at least. So let me know if you think I did do a good job in it. If you have any other questions down the comment section we could talk about that.

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