What are the common types of cyber threats and attacks?

Unveiling the 15 Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks: Protecting Your Digital Fortress
Cyber Threats


In today's digitally-driven world, the threat landscape is ever-evolving, with cybercriminals constantly devising new tactics to exploit vulnerabilities. The need to understand and combat cyber attacks has never been more critical. In this blog, we will explore the 15 most common types of cyber attacks, equipping you with the knowledge to fortify your digital defenses.

1. Malware-based attacks

Malware, short for malicious software, is a common weapon used by cybercriminals. It includes viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware. These attacks aim to infiltrate systems, compromise data, and disrupt operations. In 2020, malware attacks increased by 358%, with over 112 million new malware samples identified [source: McAfee].

2. Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks involve tricking individuals into divulging sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card details, or personal data. Cybercriminals often impersonate legitimate entities through emails, messages, or websites. In 2021, phishing attacks surged by 22%, with 75% of organizations experiencing at least one successful attack [source: Cybint Solutions].

3. Denial of Service (DoS) attacks

DoS attacks overwhelm a system, network, or website with excessive traffic, rendering it inaccessible to genuine users. This disrupts services, causing financial losses or reputational damage. DoS attacks increased by 51% in 2020, with the average cost per attack estimated at $2.5 million [source: Neustar].

4. SQL injection attacks

By exploiting vulnerabilities in web applications, SQL injection attacks allow hackers to inject malicious SQL code into a database query. This manipulation can result in unauthorized access, data theft, or even the deletion of critical information. SQL injection attacks accounted for 20% of web application attacks in 2020 [source: Imperva].

5. DNS tunneling

DNS tunneling involves bypassing network security by encapsulating non-DNS traffic within DNS packets. Attackers can use this technique to exfiltrate sensitive data, bypass firewalls, or establish covert communication channels. DNS tunneling incidents increased by 147% in 2020 [source: Infoblox].

6. Zero-day exploits

Zero-day exploits target vulnerabilities unknown to software developers. Cybercriminals exploit these weaknesses before patches or security measures are in place, enabling them to gain unauthorized access or control over systems. In 2020, the number of zero-day vulnerabilities discovered reached a record high of 148 [source: Symantec].

7. Password attacks

Password attacks aim to crack or bypass authentication mechanisms by guessing, stealing, or brute-forcing passwords. Common techniques include dictionary attacks, brute force attacks, or credential stuffing. In 2020, 80% of hacking-related breaches involved weak or compromised passwords [source: Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report].

8. Drive-by download attacks

In a drive-by download attack, malware is automatically downloaded onto a user's device when they visit a compromised website, click a malicious link, or view an infected advertisement. The malware then executes without the user's consent or knowledge. Drive-by download attacks increased by 26% in 2020 [source: SonicWall].

9. Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks

XSS attacks inject malicious code into trusted websites, potentially compromising users' browsers and enabling attackers to steal sensitive information or manipulate website content. XSS attacks accounted for 39% of all web application vulnerabilities in 2020 [source: Veracode].

10. DNS spoofing

DNS spoofing involves manipulating the Domain Name System (DNS) to redirect users to fake websites, tricking them into divulging sensitive information. This attack method is commonly used in phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks.

11. Internet of Things (IoT) attacks

With the proliferation of internet-connected devices, IoT attacks target vulnerable smart devices, such as cameras, thermostats, or home appliances. These attacks aim to compromise the device's functionality, gain unauthorized access, or use the device as a stepping stone for further attacks.

12. Session hijacking

Session hijacking, also known as session sidejacking or cookie hijacking, involves stealing session information or session identifiers to impersonate a user and gain unauthorized access to their accounts.

13. URL manipulation

URL manipulation involves altering parameters or variables in a URL to trick a website into performing unintended actions or revealing sensitive information.

14. Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking refers to the unauthorized use of someone's computer or device to mine cryptocurrencies. Attackers exploit system resources to mine cryptocurrencies without the owner's knowledge or consent.

15. Inside threats

Inside threats involve malicious activities perpetrated by individuals within an organization. These individuals may be disgruntled employees, contractors, or individuals with privileged access, aiming to steal sensitive data, sabotage systems, or cause harm from within.


Cyber attacks pose a significant threat to individuals, businesses, and governments worldwide. By familiarizing ourselves with the most common types of cyber attacks and understanding their techniques, we can take proactive steps to strengthen our defenses and protect our digital assets. Implementing robust security measures, staying vigilant against evolving threats, and regularly updating software and systems are crucial in safeguarding against cyber attacks. Remember, knowledge is the key to building a resilient digital fortress.

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