Protecting Your Business: Understanding the Most Common Cyber Attack Targets

Cyberattacks are making headlines almost daily, impacting large corporations and disrupting operations. But they are just as prevalent in small businesses.

These attacks are perpetrated by individuals referred to as cybercriminals, threat actors, or hackers. They may be acting for financial or other reasons. Some are even hacktivists who work in the name of social or political causes.


Regarding viruses, the first thought that pops into people’s heads is typically about the 2017 WannaCry worm attack that shut down businesses and caused untraceable Bitcoin ransom payments. However, computer viruses aren’t the only malware threat that can impact your business.

Viruses are microscopic entities that contain genetic material (DNA or RNA) in a protein-based case known as a capsid. They infect only specific types of cells.

Viruses can damage files, corrupt programs, or destroy data, resulting in a loss of productivity and profitability. The most common viruses include boot record infectors, worms, and Trojans.


Malware is a broad term for malicious software threat actors use to infect and hack into programmable computers or networks. It gives attackers privileged access to their victims’ systems and information, often for financial gain.

Examples of malware include a brute force attack (software that tries all possible combinations of usernames and passwords until it finds one that works), spyware (software that monitors activity on infected computers without the user’s knowledge or consent), worms (which replicate themselves to damage data files on a computer system) and Trojans (which appear as legitimate programs to fool end-users into executing them). Malware can also be introduced through file sharing, such as P2P networks.


Ransomware is malware that secretly takes over a device and locks access to files. This allows the leading targets for cyber attacks to hold the victim hostage and demand a sum of money, typically in untraceable Bitcoin. Most law enforcement agencies advise victims not to pay the ransom, as doing so simply encourages hackers.

Attackers typically upload raw text files communicating who they are and their demands. They often include a deadline; if the victim does not meet it, they threaten to release the stolen data. Healthcare orgs are particularly tempting targets for attackers because they know that lives are in the balance, and patients will likely pay a small ransom to get their data back quickly.


Hackers are individuals or groups that break into computer systems and networks for unauthorized access to information. They can steal passwords, bank and credit card details, and other personal information to sell on the dark web or commit fraud.

They can also damage or halt network operations. For example, a DDoS attack can overwhelm the capacity of a web server or system network with traffic and make it unavailable.

White hat hackers are cybersecurity experts that use their skills to find vulnerabilities in software and system networks before they’re released. However, some black hat hackers have hacked into these systems and revealed flaws to take down businesses.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks are designed to take down or otherwise interfere with your online business applications and services. These include your website, ecommerce storefronts, and application programming interfaces (APIs).

These cyber attack techniques often involve volume-based floods to saturate the target’s bandwidth or deplete its available system resources. They may also exploit vulnerabilities in the target to impede its use — for example, by sending input that causes the target to crash.

DDoS attacks use hordes of infected connected devices, such as personal computers and unsecured IoT devices, controlled by malware. The attacks can also be more challenging to detect and mitigate because they can come from multiple locations.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

A DDoS attack uses multiple online devices, known as a botnet, to overwhelm a website with fake traffic. This clogs the entry point to your website or servers, making it difficult for customers and clients to access the information they need from you.

These cyberattacks can cost you time and money while your information systems and services go down. They can also damage customer and client trust.

Having 24×7, always-on protection against these attacks can help prevent your business from experiencing the negative financial and reputational impacts that DDoS attacks can have. Contact us to learn about your security options.


A botnet is a network of computers that hackers infect with malware and control remotely without their owners’ knowledge. Cybercriminals use these networks to flood other servers with traffic to shut them down, mine cryptocurrency, or send phishing emails to steal sensitive information.

The malware they install allows them to monitor a user’s activity and steal data, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or other personal information. The malware can also be used to launch attacks on websites and networks. For example, the Mirai botnet attacked IoT devices such as cameras and routers.

Data Leaks

Cybercriminals often access sensitive data by hacking into a business’s systems. This information can be anything from personal and financial data like credit card numbers to company documents and reports.

When this data is leaked onto the internet, it can have disastrous long-term effects on your business. Your customers may leave, and your employees and security teams can be impacted by the stress of dealing with the situation.

These attacks can also cause your website to shut down, which has a noticeable impact on your business’s revenue and reputation. Using password protection, ensuring that employees are adequately trained, and keeping their work and private data separate can help prevent this.


Hackers use their technical skills to breach computer systems and steal information. They can do this for many reasons, including financial gain or corporate espionage. They may sell stolen data or customer information on the dark web.

They can also install rootkits, which enable them to hide from antivirus software and steal passwords. They can use DNS spoofing to redirect online traffic to a site that looks identical to its destination.

There are several types of hackers, ranging from white hat hacker, who is hired to bug-test new software systems and find vulnerabilities before they become widespread, to black hat hackers, who are criminals who attack businesses for profit.

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