Cybercriminals’ Attack Strategy

Cyber Crime

Cybercriminals’ Attack Strategy- Every cybersecurity expert should have a fundamental understanding of how cybercriminals organise attacks. To detect the weaknesses of their intended victims, cybercriminals employ a variety of tools and approaches. An individual or an organisation can be the target. The majority of cyber-attacks try to steal sensitive information or compromise systems. Active and passive attacks are planned by criminals.

Active assaults try to change the target system in some way. Passive attacks, on the other hand, aim to gather as much information as possible about their victim.

Passive attacks compromise data integrity, authenticity, and availability, whereas active assaults compromise privacy.

Outside cyber-attacks and inside cyber-attacks are two different types of cyber-attacks. An inside assault is one that originates or is carried out from within an organization’s security perimeter. Inside assaults are usually planned and carried out by workers with access to the organization’s credentials and knowledge of the security system.

An outside attack, on the other hand, is one that occurs outside of an organization’s or entity’s security firewall. This type of attack is carried out by someone who is not affiliated with the organisation in any way. An internet assault or a remote access link can be used to carry out the attack.

In this essay, I’ll walk you through a number of topics so you can see how a cybercriminal’s mind works and the entire thinking process that goes into planning cyber-attacks. Forms of hackers, attack strategies, types of cybercrime, attack thought processes, and how cyber criminals chose their victim will all be covered. I’ll also go over some other topics that will help you have a better grasp of a cybercriminal’s mindset or rather thought process.

Who are cybercriminals?

Individual hackers or small groups of hackers are responsible for the majority of cyber-attacks. However, the internet is also used by a significant amount of organised crime. These so-called “professional” hackers come up with new and inventive ways to perpetrate crimes. Others build international criminal conglomerates and regard cybercrime as a money-making venture.

Criminal gangs work as a unit, sharing ideas and tools in order to undertake coordinated attacks from the same location or from multiple remote locations. The “industry” has progressed in recent years with the introduction of underground cyber-markets where you can easily buy and sell stolen passwords and other sensitive information.

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Cybercriminals are difficult to trace down thanks to the internet. It allows cybercriminals to work together in secret. Attacks can be initiated and managed from anywhere on the planet. Hackers frequently utilise computers that have previously been hacked, removing any traces of identity.

This makes identifying the attacker, tool, or gadget used to carry out the assault extremely difficult. Criminal rules change from country to country, complicating the situation when an attack is launched from another country.

Types of Cyber Crime

Cyber-crime targeting an individual

Criminals take advantage of human flaws like naivety, ignorance, and eagerness in this form of attack. Copyright infringement, the sale of stolen or non-existent property, financial frauds, harassment, and other types of attacks are all examples of personal attacks. Cyber thieves can now increase their pool of prospective victims thanks to recent technology improvements and the creation of new inventive attacking tools.

Employee carelessness for security practises, according to 79 percent of security specialists, is the biggest threat to endpoint security. We’re all human, and we’re all prone to making mistakes. Many people, on the other hand, are plotting day and night to profit from a single blunder. You could lose a lot of money if you make this mistake.

Cybercrime against an organisation

Cyber terrorism is the term used to describe cyber-attacks against a company. Hackers use computers and the internet to commit cyber terrorism, steal confidential information or destroy valuable files, gain complete control of a network system, or cause programme harm. A cyber-attack against financial institutions, such as banks, is an example.

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Cybercrimes target valuable assets

This type of crime entails stealing items such as laptops, pen drives, DVDs, mobile devices, CDs, iPads, and other similar items. To impair the functionality of the devices, an attacker may infect them with a harmful programme such as malware or a Trojan. A Shortcut virus is one of the Trojans used to steal information from target victims. The Shortcut virus is a type of computer virus that changes your valid files into a format that can’t be read by your PC’s hard disc or Flash drive. The shortcut hides the actual file behind the shortcut files rather than deleting it.

Attacks using a single event

This attack is carried out in a single action from the victim’s perspective. For example, a person might open an email that contains corrupted files, which could be malware or a link that leads to a hacked website. An attacker then utilises the virus as a backdoor to gain access to your system and, if necessary, take control of it entirely. This type of attack can also be used to wreck havoc across an entire corporation, and it all starts with a single click by a “uninformed” employee.

Cyber-attacks considering a chain of events

In some cases, hackers will carry out a sequence of actions in order to hunt down a victim and interact with them personally. For example, an attacker may establish a connection with the victim via the phone or in a chat room, then steal or examine valuable data by exploiting the relationship between the two parties. This type of attack is common nowadays. As a result, you should proceed with caution when accepting a Facebook friend request or joining a WhatsApp group via links from unknown sources or WhatsApp groups.

How Cybercriminals Plan Attacks

The three stages of a cyber-attack are outlined here.

  1. Reconnaissance – this is the information gathering stage and is usually considered a passive attack.
  2. Scanning and scrutinization of the collected data for validation and accurate identification of existing vulnerabilities.
  3. Launching the attack – entails gaining and maintaining access to the system.

Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance is always the first stage in how cybercriminals organise assaults. Reconnaissance is defined as an act of exploring with the intent or objective of locating someone or something related to the target. In terms of cybersecurity, it’s an investigation to learn more about an adversary or a potential adversary. Reconnaissance in cybersecurity starts with “Footprinting,” or gathering information about the target’s computer architecture and cyber-environment as part of the initial preparation for the preattack phase.

Footprinting provides an overview of the victim’s weak points as well as recommendations for how to exploit them. The attacker’s major goal in this phase is to get knowledge of the victim’s system infrastructure, networking ports and services, and any other area of security needed to launch assaults.

As a result, an attacker tries to collect data in two phases: passive and active attacks.

Passive attacks

The attack plan’s second phase is now underway. An attacker obtains information about their target in secret during this phase; the goal is to obtain the relevant data without the victim discovering. It can be as basic as seeing an organization’s CEO report to work or spying on a single department to see when they put down their tools. Most passive attacks are carried out on the internet by googling because most hackers prefer to carry out their duties remotely. Search engines like dogpile, for example, can be used to find information about a person or a company.

Search engines such as Yahoo or Google can be used by unscrupulous persons to acquire information about personnel of the company they are attempting to hack.

Surfing online forums such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can also provide useful information about a person, their lifestyle, and possibly a hint to a weakness that can be exploited.

The website of the organisation may also contain important information about specific or key individuals inside the organisation, such as the CEO, MD, IT department head, and so on. Personal information such as email addresses, phone numbers, and job titles can be found on the website. An attacker can then use the information to perform a social engineering attack on their victim.

In some circumstances, major avenues for gathering information about an entity or its workers include press releases, blogs, newsgroups, and so on.

Examining employment qualifications for a given role inside a corporation can also aid an attacker in determining the company’s technology and the level of competency of its staff. After then, an attacker can choose which method to utilise to break the targeted system based on the data.

Active Attacks

An active attack entails scanning the network for particular hosts and verifying the accuracy of the information received during the passive assault, such as the type of operating system in use, the IP address of the provided device, and the network’s available services. It’s also known as “Active reconnaissance” or “Rattling the doorknobs” and carries the risk of being discovered.

Active reconnaissance can be used to confirm an attacker’s security measures, but it can also notify the victim if they are not adequately done. The procedure may arouse suspicion or enhance the chances of the attacker being apprehended before carrying out the complete attack.

Scrutinizing and Scanning the Gathered Information

Scanning is an important step to take after you’ve gathered information about the network infrastructure. The following are the goals of the procedure:

The purpose of network scanning is to gain a better understanding of the IP address and other relevant information about the computer network system.

Port Scanning – to find out if any ports or services are closed or open.

Vulnerability scanning — this is done to find any existing weak points in the system.

The scrutinising step is also known as enumeration in the hacking field. The following are some of the things that should be scrutinised:

  • To verify the identity of the user who is controlling the account, whether it is an individual or a group of people.
  • To locate network and/or shared resources
  • To check the operating system and numerous programmes running on the computer’s operating system.

Attack

The final step in the attack procedure is the attack phase. It entails the hacker obtaining and keeping complete control over the system. It appears immediately after scanning and enumeration, and it is initiated in the order stated below.

  • To get around the password, use a brute force assault or any other applicable method.
  • Use the password to your advantage.
  • Start the harmful command or programme.
  • If necessary, hide the files.
  • Cover your tracks and don’t leave any evidence that can be traced back to you as the nefarious third party. This can be accomplished simply removing logs, leaving no trace of your illegal activities.

The Deep Web

The deep web is the epicentre of underground online cybercrime. It’s not accessible using conventional browsers, and it’s not indexed by any of the search engines that are available. The dark web is the most important component of it. TOR, the Invisible Internet Project, and Freenet are among the other components.

Because most site owners desire to remain anonymous, the deep web can only be accessed by very advanced methods. These websites’ contents are unavailable to the general public and can only be accessed by persons with A-level computing skills. The Onion Router (Tor) is used to reach the Deep Web since the browsers allow you to surf anonymously and change your IP address.

The Deep Web is a cybercriminal’s dream come true. Criminals in the underworld can easily trade illegal substances, buy and sell malware, crimeware, ransomware, identity cards, deal with cyber-laundering, use credit cards, and so on.

Conclusion

Cybercrime is a broad and complex phenomenon. The proliferation of cellphones, Wi-Fi networks, and the internet has heightened the complexity of cyber-attacks. The growth of technology has resulted in an increase in cyber-crime and the cyber victimisation of the general public.

Individual preventative actions are the first line of defence against cybercriminal activity. The organisation, business, military, societal, national, and international levels are next explored. Cybercrime is reduced, prevented, and slowed by comprehensive protection at all levels and the installation of multiple layers of security.

The majority of hackers take advantage of the public’s lack of understanding by employing widely available tools. Installing the appropriate equipment at your company or at your home is insufficient to effectively protect against cybercrime.

To combat cybercrime, it is necessary to combine disciplines such as awareness, employee training, culture, social factors, legislation, international businesses, and prosecutions with technical solutions. Of course, understanding how cybercriminals organise assaults is critical.

National governance and international bodies formed by various governments to pursue cybercriminals are places where progress can be made. Cybersecurity is a worldwide duty that should be shared by major governments, if not all, around the world. Employees should be educated. Please provide them with the appropriate technology and remain alert at all times to avoid the tragic consequences of cybercriminal activity.

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.