10 Types of Cyber Attacks You should know.

10 Types of Cyber Attacks You should know.

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Looking for the best types of cyber attacks you should know?

then you are in the right place.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of cyber attacks and how they can be prevented.

14.4 Million Pounds.

That was just some of the cost accrued by top hotel provider, Marriot International when it suffered a data breach in 2014 and hackers gained access to the data of millions of customers.

Cybersecurity attacks can wreak havoc on an individual’s life or an organization in many ways. This shows how important it is to educate ourselves on types of cybersecurity attacks and how to prevent them.

Related: How To Become A Cyber Security Expert In Nigeria

What is a cybersecurity attack?

Cisco defines a cybersecurity attack as “ a malicious and deliberate attempt by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization.”

In other words, it is an intentional attempt to gain unauthorized access to valuable information of an individual or organization in the digital space.

Most cyberattacks are initiated for different motives such as for financial gain by selling information on the Dark Web or holding an individual device or organisation’s servers at ransom. It could also be for personal reasons such as making a political statement (known as hacktivism) or vengeance on a former employer by an aggrieved employee.

These attacks could be from someone known to the victim (insider threat) or someone unknown to them (outsider threat).

The frequency of cyberattacks is alarming.

This report mentions over fifty data breaches between January 2022 to August 2023, involving some top players in various industries such as Toyota, Samsung, American Airlines, Discord, Chat GPT, Atlassian, and even the Norwegian government.

It’s safe to say that even the big guys aren’t safe from cyberattacks by hackers.

There are different types of cybersecurity attacks used by these malicious actors to gain access to networks, servers, or computer systems.

Let’s take a look at some of these cybersecurity attacks and how to avoid them.

  1. Malware attacks

Malware is a broad term that refers to software or computer programs that are designed to cause some form of harm to its victim.

They can disrupt normal system function, steal private information, and prevent full or partial access to the system that is infected with it.

Related: 3 Best Nigerian Cyber Security Training Program in 2023

Types of Malware


This type of malware is usually attached to an executable file. That means a virus can be present on a computer but won’t spread until that file is open.

When it’s opened, it spreads to other files on a computer and other computers that are connected to the same network.

Viruses are usually gotten from the internet either from downloading an infected file or email attachment. They also infect computers from compromised flash drives.

What a virus does depends on what the creator intended. Some viruses can corrupt or delete files, steal private information, or overwhelm your system and crash it.


Ransomware holds your system hostage by encrypting your files or the entire computer, leaving you unable to access it. Some hackers program their ransomware to spread on other computers connected to the same network.

You would have to pay some money (usually cryptocurrency) or something of value to the hacker to get the encryption key to release your computer.


Spyware is designed to steal your private information without your permission or knowledge. A specific type of spyware is the keylogger, which records your keystrokes.

Recording your keystrokes allows the hacker to know what keys you tap on your keyboard and get your passwords.

Trojan Horse

A trojan horse is a seemingly legitimate software that hides malicious software inside it. Since the software looks genuine or even useful, you are tricked into downloading it. When it gets on your system, the malicious programs run on your system

Trojan horses can do a wide variety of things. It could be a way to create a backdoor to your system for the hacker to get important credentials, steal financial information, or control your system.


Worms are very similar to viruses, except they are stand-alone software. They do not need to be attached to a file that must be opened first before they inflict damage.

Like viruses, worms spread very fast. It continues to make copies of itself which consumes system resources, which slows down the system and causes disruptions.


This type of malware is usually the least harmful. It is programmed to monitor your activities and display advertisements you might find relevant. The adware creator could be paid per ad viewed or clicked.

Adware can be sometimes dangerous as it could introduce more harmful malware to your computer.

2. Phishing

This is one of the most common cybersecurity attacks every day people fall victim to. Phishing is done by sending an email, SMS, or voice message to a victim that plays with their emotions to get them to send private information.

The sender makes the message look like it’s from a trusted source and evokes a sense of urgency to convince the victim to act fast.

Attackers could even go the extra mile to research their potential victims to know their interests to make their bait more convincing.

This is called spear phishing. Whaling is a form of phishing that targets C-level executives to get financial information about a company or trade secrets to sell it to competitors or anyone willing to buy it.

3. Spoofing

This involves changing your identity to appear as someone you’re not, Identity here could be a phone number, IP address, DNS, or even an email address.

A spoofed website can be set up and an innocent user thinks it’s legit so comfortably interacts with it.

Spoofing is very similar to phishing but the main thing here is that the identity is completely changed. Phishing also uses a social engineering tactic compared to spoofing.

4.  Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack

Just as the name implies, the attacker intercepts communication between two parties, usually a user (like you) and an application or server. The two parties assume it’s just the two of them exchanging information but the attacker is in between them and able to read and modify data sent between the two parties.

The attacker achieves this by pretending to be a known entity. So, the hacker can access private information like login credentials and credit card information and even alter them in real time.

5. Denial of service attack (DoS)

DoS attacks occur when a hacker sends many requests to a web server or online services to overwhelm it. The server has so many “fake” requests to process that it is unable to attend to legitimate traffic from normal users.

This attack is disruptive and can cause long downtimes to organizations.

Another type is the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) which has the same goal as a DoS attack but uses more computers than DoS and is more complex in action.

6. Drive-by download

A drive-by attack happens when an unsuspecting user visits an unsafe site. When the user arrives, malicious code is quietly downloaded to the user’s computer, even without clicking on anything on the site. Hence the name drive-by.

Avoid visiting websites that don’t have the HTTPS protocol. You can also tell if a site is secure by the small padlock on the left side of the address bar.

7. Maladvertising

Maladvertising involves injecting harmful code into legitimate ads of a popular website. When the user clicks on the ad, it could download some form of malware into their computer or redirect them to an unsafe site.

This attack puts all website visitors at risk and gives the site owner a bad name.

8. Brute force attack

A brute force attack is when hackers use a computer program to automatically guess account passwords. They try various combinations, often using common words or compromised passwords from the dark web.

To avoid being guessed easily, create strong and unique passwords that aren’t common or easily guessable.”

9. Structured Query Language Injection (SQLi)

Websites use databases to store information like usernames and passwords. They talk to these databases using a special language called SQL. Hackers who know about this language can sometimes sneak in their instructions along with the regular ones.

The database doesn’t realize that it shouldn’t answer the hacker’s instructions and executes the code, usually to  provide information like usernames and passwords

10. Insider threats

There’s usually a lot of focus on attacks coming from external entities But cyber attacks could be due to insider threats as well. It could be intentional or due to negligence on the part of company staff.

Intentional attacks could be from current or former employees with knowledge of the cybersecurity framework in the organization. This makes it difficult for them to be caught.

It could also happen due to the lackadaisical attitude of staff to adhering to good cybersecurity practices. Third parties can then easily exploit this to launch a cyberattack on the organization.

Steps to Prevent Cybersecurity Attacks

  1. Regularly update all the software you use. This could be browsers, antiviruses, operating systems, or others. Manufacturers may notice a vulnerability in their products and release security patches to rectify that. Not updating your software could make you susceptible to hackers trying. to exploit the vulnerability
  2. Educate yourself and/or your staff on best cybersecurity practices. This could be how to identify phishing or spoofing attempts, safe browsing habits, and proper handling of passwords and emails.
  3. Set up a robust firewall to prevent harmful traffic from having access to your computer network
  4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your data so prying eyes do not have access to it.
  5. Impose strict access laws, making sure that those who have access to databases, servers, or anywhere there’s sensitive information, are on a need-to basis.
  6. Conduct security audits to find weak points in the cybersecurity architecture to set up a defense against their exploitation by cyber attackers.
  7. Employ tools for real-time monitoring of your organization’s systems to detect suspicious activity and aid in swift response to cyberattacks.


Hackers and malicious actors continue to find sophisticated ways to breach cybersecurity frameworks. Knowledge is your shield against the various types of cybersecurity attacks that pose several risks to your organization. Empower yourself to recognize, prevent, and mitigate these risks. Safeguard your digital presence and confidential data. Take action today to ensure a safer digital tomorrow by enrolling in #1 cyber security training


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Ayobami Awosanya

My name is Ayobami Awosanya. I am an SEO content Strategist & SEO Manager @ Hagital Consulting.

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