Cyberattacks You Learn About in Your Cybersecurity Program

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Sensitive information was once stored in metal filing cabinets, safes, and lockboxes, and only authorized people on site, with the right key or code could access it. But in the digital age, information is everywhere. And for all the benefits to ease of access it provides, there are dangers. Because confidential data can be accessed by anyone, anywhere through computer systems, networks, and software, cybercriminals have many more entry points. In a cybersecurity degree program, you learn to defend organizations from hackers who can steal important information, jeopardize customers, disrupt business operations, and ruin the reputation or financial standing of the company. If you want to defend against cyberattacks, you need to know what to look for. A cybersecurity program should teach about different types of cyberattacks and how to protect against them.

Malware Cyberattacks like Viruses, Worms, and Trojans

Malware is any type of malicious software that’s designed to infiltrate a computer, server, or network and cause harm. There are many types of malware including viruses, worms, and trojans. A virus is a program that attaches itself to legitimate software and spreads through computers and across systems. Viruses can corrupt or delete important data and cause legitimate programs to malfunction. 

Worms are a type of malware that rapidly copies itself to spread across networks and computers. But unlike a virus, a worm doesn’t need to attach to existing software to wreak havoc. The high volume of traffic it produces can clog systems, eat up bandwidth, slow down normal operations, and overload networks.

Disguised as legitimate software, trojans can create backdoors for unauthorized access, steal data, or perform other malicious activities. For example, since 2007 the Zeus Trojan or Zbot, has attacked millions of computers running Microsoft Windows, costing tens of millions of dollars.

Ransomware Cyberattacks

Ransomware allows cybercriminals to hold your company’s data for ransom. They hack into your company’s databases, steal information, and hold it for ransom. There are several types of ransomware, but the most common are encryptions and screen lockers. In these instances, employees who try to access the affected data will either find it encrypted or held behind a lock screen that won’t unlock unless the hackers are paid a substantial amount of money. In your cybersecurity program, you learn how to prevent and respond to such attacks. You also learn how to look for digital clues that could lead the authorities to the criminals.

Phishing Attacks

If you’re wondering how criminals get close enough to a computer system to actually attack, it’s easier than you’d think. Phishing attacks appear as legitimate-looking emails or texts that ask the user to click on a link. Often the email looks just like one you’re familiar with, but there’s a subtle difference. Maybe it’s one letter off or it has a number amongst the characters. That link might then take you to a website that also appears legitimate but then you’re asked to enter sensitive information. Or just the act of clicking on the link can deploy ransomware on your device. Phishing attacks might seem to come from a verified source such as a financial institution, a government agency, or even your own boss, to gain trust and personal data. Your cybersecurity program will show you how to tell a phishing email from a legitimate one, and how you can educate other staff members about these malicious messages. 

Microarchitectural Attacks 

For some hackers, the details in your web data and applications can give them clues as to where your data are. For example, a website that has your login info saved will load faster than a website that doesn’t. Hackers can peek at the load time of common websites you visit to determine which ones have your saved info. From there, they can break into the site and capture even more sensitive data. Other microarchitectural attacks can use your apps or computer memory to reveal information hidden in the software you use most often. Your coursework will teach you about these attacks, how to design security apps, and how to detect vulnerabilities in source code. 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Cyberattacks

When an organization’s website goes down, it might be a DDoS attack. These attacks use bots to overwhelm a website with so much traffic that it shuts down, preventing others from accessing it. During a DDoS attack, the traffic can be used as a diversion while a cyberattack takes place. In your cybersecurity program, you will learn how to keep web browsers secure and how to monitor for signs of these attacks. 

Are you computer savvy with some innate detective skills? Cybersecurity offers many diverse career opportunities. Check out the Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity at Charter College to learn how you can prepare for an entry-level IT job in a variety of industries. Our faculty have years of experience in the field and our program can be completed online for flexibility and convenience. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.