Cyber attacks have become quite frequent, and professionals in the field know what signs mean and indicate a cyber attack is near. They are very clear when one of these looks-like-a-normal-cyber-attack situations applies, and they respond accordingly.

When a situation looks like a normal attack, it is important to remain alert. Proactively identifying efforts by attackers is how professionals prepare for an attack.

However, when the situation becomes clear, does it mean the attack is over? Not necessarily! There are several reasons attacks continue to evolve and advance.

In this article, we will discuss some of the basic elements of attacks that evolve over time. We will also discuss some warning signs that indicate an advanced attack is underway or past.

Attacks are more organized

how have cyber attacks evolved

While the frequency of cyber attacks has remained steady over the past few years, the sophistication of attacks has risen.

More sophisticated attacks take advantage of new or untapped security vulnerabilities to launch assaults. In turn, attacker campaigns have continued to evolve to capitalize on new vulnerabilities and exploit them.

There are several reasons this evolution in attacks occurs. First, new exploits become public when they are released by a software company or government agency. Next, when attackers successfully exploit a vulnerability, they upload and share it for others to use.

This allows others to profit off of the vulnerability they created, or shares it for free in order to fundraise for their cause or organization. Last, when an infected device is breached, the attacker can release private data or documents that were formerly stored within.[9]

These factors combine to make attackers more organized in what they do, which raises awareness and concern among users.

Ransomware becomes popular

how have cyber attacks evolved

As new technologies emerge to attack computers and individuals, hackers continue to innovatively use them. Some developers add new techniques to existing programs to handle cyber attacks.

By using new programs or features, attackers can make their attacks more advanced or innovative!

This makes it more challenging for security software companies to keep up with the latest trends in attack methods.

However, with so many different types of malware, it can be difficult to determine which ones are the authentic version and which ones are a update or addition.

Most of the time, when antivirus does detect a file as malicious, it does not stop there. It usually warns the user that something is wrong but does not go through the effort of disabling it.

Cybersecurity becomes more important

how have cyber attacks evolved

As the internet and technology expand at an incredible pace, cyberattacks increase in complexity. More advanced attacks make use of new technology to steal data or penetrate a system.

As more data is exposed, more sophisticated attacks are created to steal even more information or penetrate a system. These attacks can be strategic or tactical, making them difficult to predict and stop.

In fact, recent reports suggest that nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies have experienced a targeted cyberattack. Even small companies are advised to have cybersecurity in place as they can no longer assume they are safe.

Strategic attacks may attempt to infiltrate a system by using credentials associated with it or through phishing attempts, respectively. When attempting to gain access, these attacks must rely on the correct system being vulnerable due to poor cybersecurity practices alone.

People start to understand how hackers think

how have cyber attacks evolved

As more data is collected and studied, researchers learn new things about how hackers think and operate. For instance, they begin to understand that they are not just focused on lining their pockets, but also becoming famous by attacking a company.

Research shows that even early in their careers, hackers are thinking like gang members preying on random people’s possessions. They see themselves as high-profile individuals with deep pockets who are able to influence large companies.

How do you combat the effects of a well-funded attack? Education is key! By teaching security students and industry professionals how to respond to attacks, you are only helping your company defend against well-funded attacks.

How do you know if an attack is well-funded? Look at the server or server configuration. Many small businesses find that because of this person or company’s education and equipment, they are able to fight back against attacks.

Evolution of hacking tools

how have cyber attacks evolved

Over the past year, security companies have witnessed a rise in the number of new and advanced hacking tools available to hackers. These new tools are often released publicly by their creators, making it easy for would-be hackers to obtain them.

Some of these new tools are re-purposed hacking techniques, while others are completely brand-new tricks. Regardless, it is becoming harder for security companies to determine which hacker modules have been modified or stolen from other products.

This is because many of these new modules are very effective and difficult to detect. Even when installed properly, they can cause severe damage to your system!

Many of these newly available hacking modules were originally released as free software, but due to popular demand, they have been made more expensive. This is an example of people ‘buying’ the product but causing disruption to the market.

Mass publicity of cyber attacks

Mass media attention has increased with the advent of modern media and communication technology. Mass media outlets, including cable news channels and popular newspapers, create more exposure for cyber threats and attacks.

This increased attention can be positive or negative! In some cases, it can cause people to take cyber security more seriously. On the other hand, it can make people less secure by creating additional stress and anxiety surrounding their online safety.

More than ever before, people are required to choose a security strategy that is appropriate for their unique needs. For example, someone who does not feel ready to protect themselves with a blockchain or cryptocurrency wallet might instead choose an encrypted mobile phone instead.

Personal information is valuable to hackers

how have cyber attacks evolved

While the majority of cyber attacks are generated by non-government entities, personal information is very valuable to hackers.

Many are willing to pay a lot of money for valuable information such as social security and credit card numbers. This is true even though modern cyber attacks do not rely on personal information, making it more difficult to obtain.

However, there are still opportunists who attempt to obtain sensitive data like email addresses and financial accounts used. While not common, this does happen!

If you ever receive an unexpected letter or email from a bank or other entity, it is important that you respond quickly and properly in order for them to determine who you are and what your account is used for.

Cybersecurity firms emerge

how have cyber attacks evolved

In the past year, there has been a rise in the number of cyber-security firms that specialize in working with companies on cyber threat mitigation and strategy. These firms have emerged to fill the void left by large corporations that increasingly prioritize tactics over strategy in their defense against cyber threats.

Many of these new firms were started by former corporate security employees who now work as independent consultants. This is not surprising, given that former corporate employees are typically more knowledgeable about company culture, leadership, and overall security outlooks.

At a basic level, these consultants offer specific recommendations on what changes or steps your company should take to reduce its risk of being a target for cyberattack. More specifically, they might suggest building secure applications and secured servers, implementing effective patch management policies and practices, and identifying weaknesses in other parts of the organization that could lead to attack.

These tips can be difficult to follow due to individual attention needed, but it is important to note that there are now specialized companies designed specifically for this type of advice.

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