What are the 8 Common Types of Cyber Attacks? 

What are the 8 Common Types of Cyber Attacks?  post image

As computer and cloud technology evolves, so do the proficiency and skillsets of cybercriminals. New security measures only remain sophisticated for a limited time – hackers work tirelessly at infiltrating systems and finding new ways of gaining access to your secured data.  

Cyber attacks not only lead to loss and corruption of data, but they also cause downtime, and mean you must spend time and resources replacing the lost data. Not to mention the huge impact a major cyber attack has on your business reputation. Given how much is at stake, you want to avoid cyber attacks at all costs.  

To help you do so, we’ve compiled this list of the 8 most common cyber attack types you need to be aware of. By knowing and being able to recognise them, you can hopefully safeguard your business against them.  

What is a cyber threat?  

The term “cyber threat” refers to potential security risks identified on your business network or system. This includes weak points in your cybersecurity infrastructure, the possibility of data loss through human negligence, or data corruption as the result of a natural disaster. It can also refer to weak points in your system that could be infiltrated by hackers, from which they can perform a cyber-attack.   

Conducting pen tests and other security measures is vital in uncovering any cyber threats that may be currently present in your network. Once identified, you can make efforts to resolve these weaknesses. This will mitigate the risk of your business falling victim to a cyber-attack. 

So, a “cyber threat” describes the risks to your system, while an “attack” describes the deliberate actions of cybercriminals to infiltrate your system, steal your data, destroy your assets, and so on.   

8 common types of cyber-attacks you need to know 

To help you identify potential cyber threats in your computer network, here are 8 common types of cyber attacks that both you and your employees need to be aware of:  


Phishing is an attempt to steal data and infiltrate systems through fraudulent emails. Normally, the sender of these emails poses as a co-working, client, or senior member of a business and constructs the text designed to trick the recipient into revealing sensitive data. Although normally conducted via email, phishing is also commonly performed over social media, and through text messages and phone calls.  

The end goal of phishing is not always to get the recipient to reveal data, but sometimes to download a malicious link. Once downloaded, the sender can infiltrate the recipient’s computer system via the link.  

Antivirus, firewalls, and other security software should safeguard your employees against phishing. However, it’s important to also educate your employees on what to look out for.  


A phisher may infiltrate your computer system through malware. This describes any software that is designed for malicious purposes, such as infecting targeted computers with viruses. Malware can have several sources, including emails, applications, and attachments. They are designed to download onto computer systems without gaining permission.  

Once the malware has been installed into a computer, it can cause all kinds of damage to your company’s infrastructure. This includes blocking data access, obtaining sensitive information, encrypting files, replicating data, and generally rendering your networking system unusable.  

Malware risk can be mitigated by installing anti-malware software. It’s also vital that you keep all your software and security systems up to date in order to avoid it.   


Ransomware is a type of malware that poses a much greater risk to your company’s computer system. Not only does this malicious software infiltrate your system, but the perpetrator will also demand a ransom payment to be made. Until this payment is made, the hacker will work to encrypt your data and make operating your business processes impossible.  

Ransomware attacks account for a lot of UK business downtime. The 2023 Cyber Security Trends Report stated that 65% of businesses experienced more than 6 days’ worth of downtime.  

Unless you had a sophisticated data backup plan in place, you would have no choice but to pay the ransom to get your business back up and running again.  

So, on top of investing in reliable anti-malware software, it’s vital that you have your data securely backed up in the event of a ransomware attack.  

Denial of Service attacks  

A Denial of Service (DoS) attack refers to any attempt made to disable a device, server, or website by interrupting and overwhelming its normal functions. Most commonly, a hacker will flood a device or website with an uncommonly large amount of traffic, with the end goal of exhausting the bandwidth and company resources.  

This is intended to prevent the normal functions of your business. When a successful DoS attack has been carried out, the site or server crashes and legitimate site visitors are unable to complete their intended action.  

You also get DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) which involves multiple attacks and causes maximum disruption. Often, these attacks come with a ransom that must be paid.  In order to curb DoS attacks, you should invest in scalable infrastructure that can handle large amounts of traffic. You should also ensure that your server is equipped to handle a sudden increase in visitors.  

SQL (Structured Query Language) injection 

If your server uses SQL, a cybercriminal could inject malicious coding into the input field. This coding is structured to reveal sensitive data that was not intended to be displayed. Typically, this includes private customer or employee information.  

In worst-case scenarios, the hacker can leverage this injection to gain full administrator rights of your database. Once this has been obtained, the hacker can copy, corrupt, or totally delete the data found. 

Mainly, SQL injections are carried out to perform identity theft, but are also done to change balances, void transactions, and cause other repudiation issues.  

To avoid this type of attack, ensure that your data permissions are properly configured and create stored procedures and parametrized queries.  

Eavesdropping attacks  

This type of cyber-attack occurs when a hacker infiltrates your company’s communication platform. Once inside, they can analyse and copy the private messages being sent across the system. Not only that, but attackers can modify and even delete data that is being transmitted between the two devices.  

While your sophisticated cyber security set-up should prevent this type of attack, you or one of your employees may fall victim to it when using an unsecured network, i.e., a public Wi-Fi connection.  

So, be conscious of the business processes you conduct publicly, and inform your employees on the dangers of public Wi-Fi. Or, if your employees are forced to use an unsupported network to transfer data, make a VPN mandatory.  

Password attacks   

There are various levels of password attacks, ranging from simple hit-and-miss attempts at guessing and using sophisticated tools that implement systematic calculations to eventually crack your password.  

Other types of password attacks include:  

  • Social engineering – By leveraging the power of phishing emails, hackers can sometimes convince employees to reveal their password information.  
  • Keylogger attack – This involves installing malicious software on the target’s computer that has keylogger capabilities. This software records keystroke data as it is being entered into the computer. So, when the employee types out their password, the keylogger will record the sequence and report it back to the hacker.  

To avoid password attacks, you should generate all passwords on behalf of your employees. These passwords should consist of a complicated sequence of numbers, letters, and symbols. You should also routinely update these passwords.  

Insider threats 

 Lastly, it’s vital that you safeguard your business from internal cyber security threats. While you’re busy mitigating external attacks, a current or former employee could be editing, copying, and sharing your company’s sensitive data with outside sources. While some of this activity may be performed maliciously, a lot of insider threats can be a result of carelessness.  

To control insider threats, you need to enforce data protection regulations as well as a third-party access policy. You should also periodically remove application access for former employees. Another good idea would be to change passwords for sensitive information as soon as an employee leaves.  

How YourShortlist can help  

YourShortlist can provide the assistance you need to up your cyber security game. New and more robust security software gets released every day, but not all these options will meet the needs of your business.  

We’re software procurement experts and can analyse your requirements to match you with tools and solutions that will patch up your security weaknesses.  

Contact us today so that we can start configuring your shortlist of cyber security software providers.