A cyber attack may steal, alter, or destroy a specified target by hacking range from installing spyware on a personal computer to attempting to destroy the infrastructure of entire nations. Legal experts are seeking to limit the use of the term to incidents causing physical damage, distinguishing it from the more routine data breaches and broader hacking activities.
In computers and computer networks an attack is any attempt to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain unauthorized access to or make unauthorized use of an Asset. A cyberattack is any type of offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, or personal computer devices. Depending on context, cyberattacks can be labeled as a cyber campaign, cyberwarfare or cyberterrorism. A cyberattack can be employed by nation-states, individuals, groups, society or organizations. A cyberattack may originate from an anonymous source.
In the first six months of 2017, two billion data records were stolen or impacted by cyberattacks, and ransomware payments reached US$2 billion, double that in 2016.
Cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism:
Cyberwarfare utilizes techniques of defending and attacking information and computer networks that inhabit cyberspace, often through a prolonged cyber campaign or series of related campaigns. It denies an opponent’s ability to do the same, while employing technological instruments of war to attack an opponent’s critical computer systems.
Cyberterrorism, on the other hand, is “the use of computer network tools to shut down critical national infrastructures (such as energy, transportation, government operations) or to coerce or intimidate a government or civilian population”
Three factors contribute to why cyber-attacks are launched against a state or an individual: the fear factor, spectacularity factor, and vulnerability factor.
The spectacularity factor is a measure of the actual damage achieved by an attack, meaning that the attack creates direct losses (usually loss of availability or loss of income) and garners negative publicity.
Vulnerability factor exploits how vulnerable an organization or government establishment is to cyber-attacks. An organization can be vulnerable to a denial of service attack, and a government establishment can be defaced on a web page.
A computer network attack disrupts the integrity or authenticity of data.
Professional hackers to cyberterrorists:
Professional hackers, either working on their own or employed by the government or military service, can find computer systems with vulnerabilities lacking the appropriate security software. Once found, they can infect systems with malicious code and then remotely control the system or computer by sending commands to view content or to disrupt other computers.
Cyberterrorists have premeditated plans and their attacks are not born of rage. They need to develop their plans step-by-step and acquire the appropriate software to carry out an attack. They usually have political agendas, targeting political structures. Cyber terrorists are hackers with a political motivation, their attacks can impact political structure through this corruption and destruction.
Types of attacks:
An attack can be active or passive.
An “active attack” attempts to alter system resources or affect their operation.
A “passive attack” attempts to learn or make use of information from the system but does not affect system resources (e.g., wiretapping).
An attack can be perpetrated by an insider or from outside the organization;
An “inside attack” is an attack initiated by an entity inside the security perimeter (an “insider”), i.e., an entity that is authorized to access system resources but uses them in a way not approved by those who granted the authorization.
An “outside attack” is initiated from outside the perimeter, by an unauthorized or illegitimate user of the system (an “outsider”). In the Internet, potential outside attackers range from amateur pranksters to organized criminals, international terrorists, and hostile governments.
Attacks are broken down into two categories: syntactic attacks and semantic attacks. Syntactic attacks are straightforward; it is considered malicious software which includes viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.
A virus is a self-replicating program that can attach itself to another program or file in order to reproduce. The virus can hide in unlikely locations in the memory of a computer system and attach itself to whatever file it sees fit to execute its code.
A worm does not need another file or program to copy itself; it is a self-sustaining running program. Worms replicate over a network using protocols. The latest incarnation of worms make use of known vulnerabilities in systems to penetrate, execute their code.
A Trojan horse is designed to perform legitimate tasks but it also performs unknown and unwanted activity. It can be the basis of many viruses and worms installing onto the computer as keyboard loggers and backdoor software. In a commercial sense, Trojans can be imbedded in trial versions. All three of these are likely to attack an individual and establishment through emails, web browsers, chat clients, remote software, and updates.
Semantic attack is the modification and dissemination of correct and incorrect information. Information modified could have been done without the use of computers even though new opportunities can be found by using them. To set someone into the wrong direction or to cover your tracks, the dissemination of incorrect information can be utilized.
India and Pakistan:
There were two such instances between India and Pakistan that involved cyberspace conflicts, started in 1990s. Earlier cyber attacks came to known as early as in 1999. Since then, India and Pakistan were engaged in a long-term dispute over Kashmir which moved into cyberspace. Historical accounts indicated that each country’s hackers have been repeatedly involved in attacking each other’s computing database system.
In retaliation, Pakistani hackers, calling themselves “True Cyber Army” hacked and defaced ~1,059 websites of Indian election bodies.
According to the media, Pakistan’s has been working on effective cyber security system, in a program called the “Cyber Secure Pakistan” (CSP).The program was launched in April 2013 by Pakistan Information Security Association and the program as expanded to country’s universities.
Consequence of a potential attack:
A whole industry is working trying to minimize the likelihood and the consequence of an information attack.
For a partial list see: Computer security software companies.
They offer different products and services, aimed at:
study all possible attacks category
publish books and articles about the subject.
evaluating the risks.
invent, design and deploy countermeasures.
set up contingency plan in order to be ready to respond.
Many organizations are trying to classify vulnerability and their consequence: the most famous vulnerability database is the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.
Infrastructures as targets:
Once a cyber-attack has been initiated, there are certain targets that need to be attacked to cripple the opponent. Certain infrastructures as targets have been highlighted as critical infrastructures in time of conflict that can severely cripple a nation. Control systems, energy resources, finance, telecommunications.
Control systems are responsible for activating and monitoring industrial or mechanical controls. Many devices are integrated with computer platforms to control valves and gates to certain physical infrastructures. Control systems are usually designed as remote telemetry devices that link to other physical devices through internet access or modems. Little security can be offered when dealing with these devices, enabling many hackers or cyberterrorists to seek out systematic vulnerabilities. Paul Blomgren, manager of sales engineering at cybersecurity firm explained how his people drove to a remote substation, saw a wireless network antenna and immediately plugged in their wireless LAN cards.
Energy is seen as the second infrastructure that could be attacked. It is broken down into two categories, electricity and natural gas. Electricity also known as electric grids power cities, regions, and households; it powers machines and other mechanisms used in day-to-day life.
Cyberterrorists can access instructions on how to connect to the Bonneville Power Administration which helps direct them on how to not fault the system in the process. This is a major advantage that can be utilized when cyber-attacks are being made because foreign attackers with no prior knowledge of the system can attack with the highest accuracy without drawbacks. Cyberattacks on natural gas installations go much the same way as it would with attacks on electrical grids. Cyberterrorists can shutdown these installations stopping the flow or they can even reroute gas flows to another section that can be occupied by one of their allies.
Financial infrastructures could be hit hard by cyber-attacks as the financial system is linked by computer systems is constant money being exchanged in these institutions and if cyberterrorists were to attack and if transactions were rerouted and large amounts of money stolen, financial industries would collapse and civilians would be without jobs and security. Operations would stall from region to region causing nationwide economical degradation.
A cyberattack on a financial institution or transactions may be referred to as a cyberheist. These attacks may start with phishing that targets employees, using social engineering to coax information from them. They may allow attackers to hack into the network and put keyloggers on the accounting systems.
Cyberattacking telecommunication infrastructures have straightforward results. Telecommunication integration is becoming common practice, systems such as voice and IP networks are merging. Everything is being run through the internet because the speeds and storage capabilities are endless. Denial-of-service attacks can be administered as previously mentioned, but more complex attacks can be made on BGP routing protocols or DNS infrastructures.The ability would still be there to shut down those physical facilities to disrupt telephony networks.
A cyberattack may steal, alter, or destroy a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system. Cyberattacks can range from installing spyware on a personal computer to attempting to destroy the infrastructure of entire nations. Legal experts are seeking to limit the use of the term to incidents causing physical damage, distinguishing it from the more routine data breaches and broader hacking activities.
Cyberattacks have become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous as the Stuxnet worm recently demonstrated.
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