Most people are aware that cybercrime exists, and it’s quite likely, at some point, you too will have fallen victim to an attack. Whether it be a hacked Facebook page or a more sinister form of attack, companies and individuals alike are at considerable risk of falling victim to online crime.
However, as security technology has advanced and – crucially – public awareness has improved, it has become increasingly more difficult for cybercriminals to infiltrate our personal and corporate data. Nonetheless, this hasn’t deterred hackers from coming up with ever more sophisticated forms of attack to fool us into parting with our sensitive information.
Below are just some of the more inventive, unscrupulous forms of attack employed by today’s cybercriminals.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that relies on exploiting the basic human quality of trust. In a phishing attack, a hacker will pose as a known entity – often a business or institution – one that is liked and trusted by the target. More often than not, phishing attacks occur by email with the cybercriminal mocking an official email to masquerade as that organisation. The attacker will often directly request private information or, in many cases, redirect the user to a fake website (also branded to look real) to fool them into inputting their access credentials.
While many of us might be familiar with the concept of phishing, far fewer are aware of the growing tendency for hackers to use a similar method called smishing. A smishing attack is identical to phishing – just this time, the hacker will contact the target via SMS, normally redirecting to another web page. These pages are often infected with malware or will, again, request the user to part with private information, thereby giving the attacker access to the user’s files or data. To learn more about the new phenomenon of smishing, click here.
Another increasingly popular form of attack among hackers is that of ransomware. Ransomware involves the cybercriminal taking control of a host machine or network and locking down its files unless a payment is made – hence the name, ‘ransomware’. If the target fails to make the payment, the hacker will send a prompt to the infected software to wipe all data from the hard drive or network. Ransomware typically infiltrates a system through infected software or downloads – which is why it’s so important you only install apps from reputable sources and avoid downloading suspicious files.
Artificial intelligence (AI) attacks
Most modern security software relies on artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and identify new and existing threats – so it rather makes sense the hackers would, in turn, turn to AI to beat the security firms at their own game. These days, AI, cybercrime and cybersecurity are intertwined, and modern AI software can be programmed to search and scour software and databases for weaknesses and backdoors in a fraction of the time it would take for a human to do the same. Attacks from AI hackers are predicted to be the way cybercrime is headed and will make it increasingly harder for cybersecurity firms to stay one step ahead.