About cyber attacks and why they happen
The different types of cyber attacks
There are many different types of cyber attacks, but some of the most common include:
- Phishing: a type of social engineering attack in which an attacker attempts to trick a victim into providing sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information, by disguising themselves as a trustworthy entity.
- Malware: a type of software specifically designed to cause harm to a computer or network. This can include viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS): a type of attack in which an attacker floods a website or network with traffic in an attempt to make it unavailable to legitimate users.
- SQL injection: a type of attack in which an attacker injects malicious code into a website’s database through a vulnerability in the website’s code.
- Ransomware: a type of attack in which an attacker encrypts a victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for a decryption key.
- Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) : a set of stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes, often orchestrated by nation-state, to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network and steal sensitive information.
Why cyber attacks happen
The goals of cyber attackers can vary depending on the type of attack and the motivation of the attacker. Some common goals of cyber attacks include:
- Financial gain: Many cyber attacks are motivated by financial gain. For example, attackers may steal credit card information or login credentials to make fraudulent purchases, or they may demand a ransom in exchange for returning encrypted files.
- Espionage: Some attackers may be motivated by the desire to gather sensitive information, such as trade secrets or intellectual property. These types of attacks are often carried out by nation-states or other organizations with political or strategic motives.
- Disruption: Some attackers may be motivated by the desire to disrupt the normal functioning of a website or network. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, for example, are designed to flood a website or network with traffic in an attempt to make it unavailable to legitimate users.
- Sabotage: Some attackers may want to cause physical damage to the target systems or destroy the data.
- Cybercrime: Many attackers engage in cybercrime, using the internet to commit a variety of illegal activities such as theft, fraud, or extortion.
- Cyber Terrorism: Cyber-attacks that are aimed at creating panic, fear, and chaos among the public, or disrupting critical infrastructure or public services.
Overall the ultimate goal of attackers is to make profit or achieve some sort of gain at the expense of their target.
A ransomware attack is a type of cyber attack in which an attacker encrypts a victim’s files and demands payment (usually in the form of cryptocurrency) in exchange for a decryption key. The victim is typically unable to access their own files until they pay the ransom. Some variants of ransomware also threaten to publish the victim’s data or block access to it permanently if the ransom is not paid.
These are of particular concern to the healthcare industry, as it is one of the main targets of ransomware attacks and if patients information is published, healthcare providers may face fines, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the attack. For example, in the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires covered entities (such as healthcare providers) to implement certain safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI). If a covered entity fails to implement these safeguards and ePHI is compromised as a result of a cyber attack, the entity may be subject to fines and penalties from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. Additionally, many states have their own data breach notification laws that may also apply in such cases.
Ransomware attacks have been on the rise in the United States and globally. According to various reports, the number of ransomware attacks has been increasing in recent years, and they are becoming more sophisticated and targeted.
The trend with cyber attacks
The overall trend of cyber attacks in the United States and globally is that they have been increasing in recent years. This is due to the increasing reliance on technology and the internet in various aspects of our daily lives, which has created more opportunities for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. However, the specific types of attacks and the sectors targeted can vary over time. For example, some reports indicate that the number of ransomware attacks has been increasing in recent years, while others suggest that phishing attacks have been on the decline.
It is also important to note that some attacks are more difficult to detect and quantify than others, and as ransomware attacks impact on the organization’s reputation, most aren’t reported, so statistics may not accurately reflect the true number of attacks that are occurring.
The healthcare and public sector are among the most targeted industry. It’s important for individuals and organizations to keep their software and security systems up to date, and to exercise caution when opening email attachments or clicking on links from unknown sources, to help protect against these types of attacks.