Cybercrime continues to advance day in day out, cybercriminals are continuing to invent better and more effective ways of launching cyberattacks.
The availability of automated tools and services for advancements in the cybercrime world calls for more creativity in the cybersecurity sector.
Cybercrime like a game has both offensive and defensive moves. The cybercriminals, being the attackers, act via different offensive moves depending on what their target is.
Defensive moves, on the other hand, are made by the target, who has to be conscious enough to effectively fight any attempted attacks.
Cybercriminals engage in cyberattacks mainly for monetary gain. As such, they use techniques that guarantee as much damage as possible to higher profits as a result. The attack techniques mostly used include DDoS attacks, malware, credential stuffing and phishing.
Malware (malicious software) is used by cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network. Cybercriminals’ intentions are to compromise their targets without their knowledge.
There are different forms of malware, including ransomware, spyware, adware and many others, authored to acquire unique results. There are many techniques by which malware can be distributed to the targeted traffic.
Exploit kits have proved to be very effective malware delivery tools. Social engineering attack techniques have emerged to be more effective tools of malware delivery.
Most of the other forms of attack depending on the successful delivery of malware, making malware distribution a very important step in cyberattacks.
The dark web provides an easier way for malware distribution through the availability of Traffic Distribution Systems-as-a-service. TDS enables cybercriminals who lack the proper tools and skills to launch cyberattacks successfully.
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks are meant to disrupt the normal traffic of a target server, service or network. The target is usually overwhelmed with internet traffic from compromised systems (botnet).
To launch the DDoS attack, the cybercriminal compromises many computer systems using malware and turns each of them into a bot. The next step involves a directive to the botnet to send requests to the target server or network, overwhelming it with service and denying it access from normal traffic.
The presence of DDoS-as-a-service in the dark web makes it easier to launch attacks at low costs without forming botnets.
DDoS attacks are mainly launched with the aim of extortion, theft, retaliation, and protest.
Phishing is a cyberattack technique that aims at gathering personal information using disguised emails and websites. It can also be used to make the target download and run a malware program.
The attacker tricks the email recipient into believing the message is from a trusted party that the target may be in business with.
The target is made to click a link or download an attachment.
Phishing scams have been made easier to launch by the availability of phishing kits and mailing lists on the dark web. This makes it possible for cybercriminals with limited skills to launch phishing schemes.
In credential stuffing, the cybercriminal uses stolen credentials to gain access to user accounts by launching large-scale automated login requests.
The reuse of user credentials in different websites means that credential stuffing attempts always yield a certain percentage of success, leading to account takeover. Cybercriminals are able to obtain stolen credentials for sale on the dark web.
Like all crimes, cybercrime is possible to prevent and stop. Each form of attack may call for unique defense mechanisms.
Some of the effective defense mechanisms for DDoS attacks include:
- Use Web Application Firewall (WAF) as a defense mechanism to help deter both DDoS and credential stuffing attacks.
- To stop credential stuffing attacks, the WAF analyzes behaviors such as IP location, time of day and connection attempts per second. Since most credential stuffing attacks are automated, using information obtained from the analysis can help distinguish browser logins from non-browser login attempts.
- To stop DDoS attacks, the WAF filters requests based on a series of rules and can thus identify and filter DDoS traffic, helping protect the target server from DDoS attacks. The WAF is customized to implement the set rules in case of an attack.
- Rate limiting, where the server is set to accept a specific number of requests in a given time interval. This helps slow access to servers, though it may not be able to successfully stop DDoS attacks independently.
- The use of the Anycast network addressing method can also help deter DDoS attack as it distributes the attack traffic across a network of servers such that the traffic is fully absorbed by the network and the attack is stopped imminently.
Some tips to prevent other types of cyberattacks include:
- Phishing scams can only be stopped by being extra cautious and always being on the lookout for URL redirects. Inspecting and analyzing web traffic can also help mitigate phishing scams. Emails from unknown sources should be treated with a lot of caution.
- Malware distribution, on the other hand, can be prevented by users being very careful and avoiding deceptive downloads, software updates, popups and ads.
Cybercrime is always evolving, meaning internet users should keep their minds open and be very cautious while online.