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What is Attack Vector in Cybersecurity?

what is attack vector

In cybersecurity, an attack vector is a pathway or method that adversaries use to gain unauthorized network access to conduct a cyberattack on businesses and people. 

Cybercriminals can gain access to sensitive data, personally identifiable information (PII), and other vital information by exploiting system flaws. 

While the average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, it's critical to consider ways to reduce attack vectors and avoid data breaches. 

> The Importance Of PII And Compliance Issues

What Are Popular Attack Vector Examples? 

Viruses and malware, email attachments, websites, pop-up windows, instant messaging (IMs), chat rooms, and deceit are common examples of cyberattack vectors.  

Viruses, which can act as their own attack vectors, Trojan horsesworms, and spyware are the most common harmful payloads. 

Third-party suppliers and service providers are also attack vectors since they pose a danger to an organization if they have access to sensitive information. 

 > Malware Protection: Tools & Best Practices

How Do Adversaries Exploit Attack Vectors? 

Adversaries have a thorough understanding of the many security attack routes accessible to them.  They are looking for possible entry points into an organization system and its people, applications, and networks. When figuring out how to hack one of these channels, they look for vulnerabilities or security flaws. 

A security flaw can be identified in a piece of software or in the operating system of a computer (OS). A security vulnerability might arise as a result of an application's programming mistake or a defective security setup. Low-tech hacks, such as getting an employee's account credentials or breaking into a facility, are the most common ones. 

  

What Are the Common Types of Attack Vectors? 

attack vector

1. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks 

A man-in-the-middle attack is a type of cyberattack where perpetrators intercept the communication of data between two systems or people. 

Without safe setups, an online form, a password input, and even a website cookie can all be "sniffed" and stolen in transit. 

2. Exposed Server Information 

Many websites publish information about the type or version of the software they use. Malicious actors can locate flaws they know will work, narrowing their assault windows. 

3. Cross-site Scripting Attacks 

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of attack that impersonates a user on a website by using saved cookies. Attackers store malicious code in website cookies aiming to impact the website visitor. 

> What Is Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) ?

4. Phishing Attacks and Fraudulent Email 

Phishing attacks use email to impersonate someone, generally an authority figure, in order to persuade an employee to transfer payments or provide critical information. 

When a company fails to take steps to check and sort email before it enters an inbox, these assaults are considerably more likely to succeed. 

5. DNS Hijacking 

The DNS system converts human-readable addresses such as www.example.com into computer-readable IP addresses such as 10.10.10.10. The issue is that DNS may be hijacked, and the human address can be redirected to a bogus IP address with a simulated website that collects credentials and other information from visitors. 

6. Domain Hijacking 

If a company fails to renew its domain before it expires, a hostile actor can take it as soon as it becomes available and host a fake page, fooling users into thinking they are still visiting the legitimate site. 

7. Dangerous Ports Exposed 

A separate port is used for each digital service. Some ports, such as 80 and 443, are often open to the internet. However, there are other ports that should never be exposed to the internet because they constitute a significant security risk. While some ports, such as those for mail services, are available to the public, others, such as database ports, or RDP ports should never be exposed. 

 

How can organizations be protected against common vector attacks? 

In order to get access to company assets, attackers employ a range of methods. A security team’s job is to identify and apply the policies, tools, and strategies that are most successful in defending against these assaults. 

Here are some protective strategies that are a must: 

Password policies: Organizations should make sure that usernames and passwords are the right length and strength, and that the same credentials aren't used for several applications or systems. We recommend using two-factor authentication (2FA) or other verification procedures (e.g., PIN) to provide an extra layer of protection to system access. 

Security monitoring and reporting: Organizations should have continuous and frequent attack surface monitoring. A qualified monitoring and detection approach can be of great help; once a possible attack by an unknown source is detected, the security team can shut down entry points to networks, systems, workstations, and edge technologies in no time or even if the attack has not occurred yet, a prevention actions can be conducted by the security team. 

Audit and test for vulnerabilities: Vulnerability testing is usually done at least once a quarter by an external security audit firm. However, our recommendation is to conduct it continuously in an automated way. 

> What Is Vulnerability Management?

Make Security a top priority: Small and medium enterprises should also be concerned about data breaches. Even though SMBs cannot afford to hire security teams to take over the process, they should commit to raising awareness about the threat, making cyber security best practices top-of-mind, and taking the necessary proactive steps to secure their business. 

Educate Employees: People are the weakest link in cybersecurity. Cybercriminals use various social engineering tactics to exploit human error and gain private information, access, or valuables. 

Businesses should make sure that all new employees receive thorough training and exercises to increase media literacy and security knowledge. 

Moreover, in a post-pandemic reality, it is crucial for companies to develop remote work policies to prevent possible data leaks from their people. 

 

Humanize will safeguard your organization from multiple attack vectors. Learn how.