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There’s the million-dollar question, right? What happens during a cyber attack? And the answer for some organizations who aren’t prepared with proactive cybersecurity solutions could amount to more than a million-dollar solution. That’s why Acme Business stresses preparedness at all times. 

This isn’t a scare tactic: There ARE bad actors out there online RIGHT NOW trying to infiltrate your systems.

Cyber attacks are common in today’s digital age. Not just common. The digital world is filled with threats. Many people have heard about cyber attacks, but not everyone knows what happens during one. 

Cyber Attack 101: Arm Yourself With Knowledge to Protect Your Organization 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various stages of a generic cyber attack and what happens during each stage. Of course, sophisticated cyber criminals are quite crafty and always evolving to sneak through even the most hardened cyber defenses available

But understanding their processes helps to strategize your cybersecurity tactics. Here we go, step-by-step:

1. Reconnaissance

They’re watching you. They’re watching your business. Sorry, again, that’s NOT a scare tactic. 

The first stage of a cyber attack is reconnaissance. During this stage, the attacker gathers information about the target – about you. They may use various techniques such as scanning networks, conducting social engineering attacks, and reviewing publicly available information.

They seek to know how you do business. They seek to know with whom you do business. They want to know how you accept payments, how you communicate, how you store privileged data, and much more. They look at websites you visit and the websites your clients visit. They look at social media. They identify cracks in your system. 

They KNOW you. 

The goal is to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited to gain access to the target’s systems.

2. Initial Access

Once the attacker has identified vulnerabilities, they attempt to gain access to the target’s systems. This can be done through various means such as exploiting software vulnerabilities, using stolen credentials, or launching phishing attacks. Once the attacker gains access, they can begin to explore the target’s network and gather additional information.

3. Escalation of Privileges 

Once the attacker has gained initial access, they look for ways to escalate their privileges on the target’s systems. This can be done by exploiting weaknesses in the target’s security controls, such as weak passwords and unpatched or unupdated software. Once the attacker has escalated their privileges, they can move deeper into the target’s network and access more sensitive data

4. Lateral Movement 

The cyber attack is beyond data breach. Once the attacker has escalated their privileges, they typically begin to move laterally through the target’s network. This involves accessing other systems and accounts within the network to gain more information and control. The attacker may use various techniques such as password cracking, pivoting through compromised systems or using stolen credentials. 

5. Data Exfiltration

The final stage of a cyber attack is data exfiltration. You’re in a pickle here. They’ve gotten what they want. Data exfiltration involves stealing sensitive data from the target’s systems and transferring it to the attacker’s own systems. The attacker may use various techniques such as encrypting the data, disguising it as benign traffic, or compressing it to reduce its size to your analysis systems.

Once the data has been exfiltrated, the attacker may use it for various purposes such as selling it on the dark web, using it for blackmail, or conducting further attacks. This may come in the form of ransomware, which holds your confidential information for ransom. Or cybercriminals may steal your data outright, with little to no chance of retrieving it without serious consequences to yourself, to clients, and to your business reputation.

How to Protect Your Business from a Cyber Attack

Cyber attacks are complex and can have severe consequences for individuals and organizations. By understanding the various stages of a cyber attack, you can take steps to protect yourself and your organization. This includes implementing robust security controls, conducting regular security assessments, and providing cybersecurity training to your employees.

With the right approach, you can reduce your risk of a cyber attack and mitigate its impact if one occurs. Call Acme Business at (716) 372-1325 and connect with us on LinkedIn. Our experts can create a specialized system fitting your unique cybersecurity needs.