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What is Cyber-attack Vectors?

In the world of cyber-security, the term a good defense is a good offense takes a slightly different shade of meaning. Here having a good offense means being proactive requires the cybersecurity team to employ proactive measures and be constantly aware of the new kinds of upcoming threats and attack vectors.

Attack vectors are modes and channels through which a hacker delivers malware or gains access to the target systems. The presence of attack vectors illustrates the various loopholes and weaknesses in any cybersecurity system. The attack vectors can be thought of as a path through which an attacker can deliver dangerous payload. Some of the common types of attack vectors include viruses, email-attachments, social engineering events, pop-ups, click-jacking messages, chat rooms and all other kinds of deception that hide the true nature of the delivered file or interaction. While firewalls and various kinds of anti-malware software are common forms of protection against typical attack vectors, no method is completely foolproof.

Various kinds of Attack Vectors

A cyber-criminal of today has numerous vectors at his disposal, and they use them according to the nature of the hack and the various vulnerabilities present in the target systems. Some of the common vectors for delivering payload are mentioned below.

  • Phishing - Phishing utilizes the most common and readily available vector, the lack of awareness of network administrators or company employee. A payload containing email or pop-up message is usually sent where the innocuous looking content hides harmful malware. Once the mail is accessed or the attachment opened, the payload is automatically downloaded in the target system.
  • Drive -by downloads- Another popular attack vector includes drive-by downloads. In this case, legitimate websites are infected with malicious payload, and the systems can get compromised due to un-informed downloads without the knowledge of the system user. Such vectors include accessing the website, reading a particular email, clinking on a harmless looking link on the legitimate website or by accessing pop-ups. Drive-by downloads also search for system loopholes and exploits.
  • Domain Shadowing - Hackers who gain access to domain registrar credentials (usually done through phishing) can gain access to an organization's DNS server and can then begin to redirect traffic to a malicious IP. The user might enter a trusted URL but will be redirected to a malicious page filled with landmines that are itching to infect systems upon accessing them.

A threat analysis usually involves taking note of and fixing all such attack vectors.

Related Article: The Most Common Types of Cyber Attacks

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