History of Cybersecurity
eye, iris, biometrics @ Pixabay

how cybercriminals plan attacks

Every cybersecurity expert must know how cybercriminals plan attacks. Cybercriminals employ a variety of tools and techniques to determine the vulnerabilities of their victims. Targets can be individuals or organizations. Cyber-attacks are often used to steal valuable information and breach systems. Both passive and active attacks are planned by criminals.

Active attacks are designed to disrupt the target system. Passive attacks, on the other hand, aim to gather as much information about their target as possible.

Passive attacks can lead to privacy breaches. Active attacks could affect the integrity, authenticity, and availability of data.

Cyber-attacks may also be classified as an outside attack or within attack. Inside attacks are those that originate or are executed within an organization’s security perimeter. Inside attacks are most often carried out by employees with access to the credentials of the organization and knowledge about the security infrastructure.

An outside attack is, however, an attack that occurs from outside the security firewall of an entity or organization. This attack is carried out by an individual who does not have any direct affiliation with the organization. This attack can be carried out via the internet or remotely.

This article will cover many concepts to help you understand the thinking process of cybercriminals and how they plan cyberattacks. I’ll cover topics such as types of hackers and attack techniques, types of cyber-crime, attack thoughts processes, and how cybercriminals choose their targets. You will also find information that will help you gain a deeper understanding of the mind and thought processes of cybercriminals.

Who is a cybercriminal?

Cyber-attacks are usually spearheaded by small groups or individuals. But, the internet is also used by large amounts of organized crime. These hackers are known as “professional hackers” and they invent new ways to commit crimes. Other criminal conglomerates treat cyber-crime as an investment that generates income.

The criminal communities function as one unit. They share strategies and tools to launch coordinated attacks from different locations. With the rise of cyber markets in the underground, you can easily purchase stolen credentials and other important information.

It is very difficult to find cyber criminals on the internet. Cybercriminals can collaborate anonymously through the internet. You can launch and control attacks from anywhere on the planet. Hackers use computers that have been hacked and remove any identity.

It is therefore very difficult to identify the attacker or the tool or gadget that was used to carry out the attack. The laws governing crime vary from one country to the next, which makes it very difficult to identify an attacker or tool used in an attack.

Cybercrime

1. Cyber-crime against an individual

Criminals use human weaknesses like ignorance, innocence, and avidity to attack. Copyright violations, theft of non-existent or stolen properties, financial fraud, and harassment are all examples of attacks on an individual. Cybercriminals can expand their potential victim’s thanks to the latest technological advances and new attacking tools.

79% of security professionals believe that negligence by employees is the greatest threat to endpoint security. Human beings make mistakes. Many people plot to profit from one silly mistake every day. This mistake could result in a huge financial loss

2. Cybercrime against an organization

Cyber-attacks on an organization are also known as. Hackers use computers and the internet for cyber terrorism. They can steal confidential information, destroy valuable files, gain total control over the network, or cause damage to programs. Cyber-attacks on financial institutions like banks are one example.

 

3. Cybercrime targets valuable assets

This crime includes stealing laptops, pen drives, and DVDs. It also involves the theft of property like mobile devices, pen drives, DVDs, or CDs. An attacker might infect devices with malicious programs such as malware, Trojan to interrupt the functionality. A Shortcut virus is one of the Trojans that can steal information from targeted victims. Shortcut viruses are a type of virus that converts valid files to a format that can’t be accessed on your computer’s hard drive, Flash drive, or PC. The shortcut does NOT delete the file but hides it behind shortcut files.

4. Attacks using one event

This attack, from the victim’s perspective, is one action. An example of this is when an individual opens an email that contains corrupted files. This could be malware or a link to redirect you to a malicious website. The malware is used by an attacker to gain access to your system and take control of the whole system, if necessary. This attack can also be used as a way to create havoc within an organization. It all begins with one click from an “ignorant”.

5. Cyber-attacks as a series of events

Hackers may use a variety of methods to track victims and then interact with them. An attacker might make a call to the victim or use a chat room to establish a relationship with them. Then, he or she may steal valuable data or exploit the relationship between them. This type of attack is very common nowadays. This is why you need to be cautious about accepting friend requests on Facebook and joining WhatsApp groups using links from unknown sources.

Cybercriminals Plan to Attack

These are the steps involved in planning a cyber attack.

  1. Reconnaissance is the information gathering stage. It is often considered a passive attack.
  2. Validation and scrutiny of collected data to identify vulnerabilities.
  3. The attack involves gaining and maintaining system access.

1. Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance is the first step in cybercriminals’ plan of attack. Reconnaissance is a form of exploration with the goal or aim of finding something or someone about the target. It’s a search to find information about an enemy, or potential enemy. Reconnaissance in cybersecurity begins with ” footprint” which is the initial preparation for the pre-attack phase. It involves collecting data about the target’s cyber-environment and their computer infrastructure.

Footprinting provides a detailed overview of the victim’s weaknesses and offers suggestions for how they could be exploited. This phase’s primary purpose is to give the attacker a complete understanding of the victim’s system infrastructure, as well as the services and networking ports, and any other security aspects necessary for attacking.

An attacker attempts to obtain data from two distinct phases: passive attacks and active attacks.

2. Passive attacks

This is the second stage of the attack plan. This is the second phase of the attack plan. An attacker secretly collects information about their target. The goal is to obtain the relevant data without the victim being aware. This can be as straightforward as monitoring an organization’s CEO to find out when he reports to work, or spying on specific departments to determine when they are shutting down. Most passive attacks are carried out over the internet because hackers prefer to do their jobs remotely. One could use search engines like dogpile to find information about an individual or company.

  1. Yahoo and Google search: Malicious individuals can use these search engines to find information about employees at the company they want to hack.
  2. Online communities such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be a great way to learn about someone, their life, and possibly a hint at their weaknesses that can be exploited.
  3. Information on key people within an organization may be found on the website, including the CEO, MD, head IT department, and others. You can access personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and roles from the website. An attacker can then launch a social engineering attack on their target by obtaining the details.
  4. In some cases, press releases, blogs, newsgroups, and other channels are used to obtain information about employees or entities.
  5. An attacker can identify the technology used in a company as well as the competency of its workforce by looking at job requirements. An attacker can then choose the best method to breach the targeted system using the data.

3. Active Attacks

Active attacks involve closely inspecting the network to identify individual hosts and verify the validity and authenticity of the collected information. This includes the type of operating system being used, the IP address of the gadget, and any services available on the network. This involves the risk that you will be detected and is also known as ” Active surveillance” or ” Rattling at the doorknobs“.

Active reconnaissance can confirm security measures that have been put in place by an attacker but it can also alert the victim if they are not properly executed. This process can raise suspicion and increase the attacker’s chances of being caught before they carry out the full attack.

4. Analyzing and scanning the collected information

The scanning step is crucial to analyze the network infrastructure and collect useful information. These are the objectives of scanning:

  1. Network scanning is performed to better understand the IP address and other information about the computer network system.
  2. Port Scanning: to find any ports or services that are closed or open
  3. Vulnerability Scanning – to identify weak links in the system.

In hacking, the scrutinizing phase can also be called Enumeration. This is where the objective of scrutinizing is:

  1. To verify the authenticity of the account holder, whether it is an individual or group of people.
  2. To find network resources or shared resources
  3. Verify the operating system and the applications running on the computer.

5. Attack

The attack stage is the final step in the attack process. This involves the hacker gaining full control over the system access. It launches sequentially, as described in the steps below.

  1. Brute force attack, or any other suitable method to bypass the password.
  2. Use the password to unlock it.
  3. Start the malicious application or command.
  4. If necessary, you can hide the files.
  5. Do not leave any trace that could lead to you or the malicious third party. You can do this by deleting logs to make it impossible for others to see your illicit actions.

The Deep Web

The core of online underground cybercrime activity is found in the deep web. It is not accessible with standard browsers, and it cannot be indexed by search engines. This includes the dark web, which is the most important component. Other components include TOR and Invisible Internet Project.

Because the owners of the deep web prefer to remain anonymous, it is only possible to access the deep web using very advanced technologies. These websites’ contents are not accessible to the public. Only those who have A-level computing skills can access them. To access the Deep Web, the Onion Router is used (Tor). The browsers enable one to surf anonymously while hiding your IP address by using a different one.

Cybercriminals love the Deep Web. The Deep Web is a paradise for cybercriminals. They can trade illegal drugs, buy and sell malware, crimeware, and identity cards. They can also deal with cyber-laundering and credit cards.

Conclusion

Cybercrime can be a complex and extensive phenomenon. Cyber-attacks have become more complex due to the rapid growth of smartphones and Wi-Fi networks. Technology has allowed for an increase in cyber-criminality as well as the cyber victimizations of the vastly ignorant population.

Individual precautionary measures are the first step to protecting yourself against cybercriminal activity. The protection extends to the organizational, corporate, and military levels as well as national and international. Comprehensive protection at all levels, as well as the installation of different layers of security, reduces, prevents, and slows down cybercrime.

Hackers use the most common tools available to exploit the less-skilled population. It is not enough just to have the right technology installed at your company or personal level to protect yourself against cybercrime.

To combat cybercrime, it is necessary to integrate fields like awareness, employee training, and culture with laws, international corporations, and prosecutions. It is important to understand the tactics of cybercriminals.

Two areas need to be improved: the creation of national governance, and international entities created by different countries to prosecute cybercriminals. Cybersecurity is a global issue and should be shared by all major countries, if possible. Your employees should be trained. Give them the right technology and be awake to avoid any cybercriminal activity.

Previous articleEnd-User Guidelines for Password Security
Next articleWhat Cybercriminals do to Make Money
Evangeline Christina is a Cyber Security Enthusiast, Security Blogger, Technical Editor, Certified Ethical Hacker, Author at Cyberspecial.net. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter in a reputed news agency.