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What Are Some Types of Cybersecurity Threats?

Learn about the most common types of cybersecurity threats.

What Are Some Types of Cybersecurity Threats?
December 28, 2020 Eileen Marra

Type of Cybersecurity Threats

In today’s world, it’s critical to exercise cybersecurity best practices. It’s also important to provide security training and threat awareness programs to employees. Doing so will avoid potential cyberattacks. 

Cyber threats are all too common today. Even worse, cybercriminals who participate in these actions are intelligent, targeted, precise and ruthless in their approach. With many well-developed methods of attack, it’s vital to understand the nature of a potential attack to better prevent it. In this post, we discuss the most common types of cybersecurity threats. We also provide examples and tips on how to prevent cyber threats. 

What Is Malware?

A malware attack generally involves the installation of unwanted programs or software on your system without your permission. The attack typically takes the form of a virus that either infects an application, arrives as a new application (like the prevalent .exe file) or buries itself into the root of your system. In some cases, it may involve a Trojan or Trojan Horse, which could dangerously open a back door to your system, or worms, which commonly spread like wildfire through email. 

Some of the most common types of malware include: 

  • Trojan malware 
  • Spyware 
  • Zero-day attacks 
  • Advanced persistent threats (ATP’s) 

Trojan Malware

Trojan malware pretends to be something useful, helpful or fun, while actually causing harm or stealing data. Trojans are often silently downloading other malware (e.g. spyware, adware, ransomware) on an infected device. Trojan malware is distributed by attackers who aim to take control over your network in order to damage it. 

This type of malware typically comes in through legitimate-looking sites. As many legitimate pieces of software do, many trojans request administrative access permissions on your computer. Once the permissions are granted, the attacker has free reign in the system.  

The best way to avoid having to deal with trojan malware is to download only from reputable sources. However, even this may not be sufficient. Staying aware of security threats , or by running malware detection and isolation programs, is a good way to prevent this type of cyber threat.  


Spyware steals sensitive information and then relays it to other users. The data is often sent to data collectors and advertisers (adware), who then use it to target you with ads or sell that information to others. In many cases, spyware can collect your financial and personal information. This can lead to identity theft. Spyware may track your internet activity and retain your login methods and passwords. It can also record credit card inputs when you make a purchase. 

To prevent spyware, avoid clicking on pop up ads or downloading attachments from unknown sources. It can also be avoided by not opening emails from questionable senders. 

 Zero-day attacks 

Even legitimate software will have security flaws. While the software vendor might be aware of vulnerabilities in their release, they may not have a way to prevent it (at least not yet). Hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to harm your devices and network. 

Zero-day attacks are hard to anticipate. The best way to get ahead of their exploits is to be on the lookout for any software updates — install them as soon as possible. 

As a managed IT services provider, Verity IT provides remote monitoring and management services that monitor for any problems in your network. Our help desk services keep a watchful eye on your systems and respond quickly to critical issues to keep your employees and business up and running. 

Advanced persistent threats (ATP)

An advanced persistent threat (APT) attack targets access to systems, such as company networks — wreaking havoc once inside. Unlike some lower-level hacking assaults, APTs aim to invade the systems for an extended period of time, with the intent of stealing a variety of sensitive information. These are sophisticated methods that might target large enterprises but small businesses are very often the victim as well. 

What Is Social Engineering?

Social engineering refers to a broad range of tactics that use human interactions to deceive users into making bad security choicesWith social engineering, there is a level of study involved by the hacker. The hacker learns about the victim’s background information. Then the hacker gathers data about what type of information would be needed for an attack. Next, the hacker tries to get the victim to trust them by prompting them to break security protocols to reveal private or sensitive information. 

Common types of social engineering cyber threats include: 

  • Phishing 
  • Spear phishing 
  • Pretexting attacks 
  • Spoofing attacks 
  • Whaling attacks 

Denial-of-Service (DoS) 

A Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack plots a major shutdown. This shutdown blocks users from accessing the service or network. A ransomware attack can lock business critical data. As a result, preventing a business from servicing its customers — becoming a denial-of-service attack. Once attacked, it isn’t as simple as paying the ransom or restoring from backup.


Ransomware is a malicious type of malware that can deny users access to their system or personal files until the user agrees to pay a ransom to regain access to their system. Modern forms of ransomware often demand payment via credit card or cryptocurrency. 

There are several common types of ransomware: 

Screen Locks: Some ransomware locks your screen, preventing you from accessing your device.  

Scareware: Scareware may pester you with ads insisting your system is compromised to try to sucker you into volunteering “payment” through the use of your credit card. 

Encrypting Ransomware: This type of ransomware essentially allows for your files to be overtaken and encrypted.  Resulting in no access to them until you pay a ransom to have them released. If you do not pay, your files can be purged, and you may not be able to restore them. 

Watch our recent webinar, The Rising Threat of Ransomware — How to Enhance Cybersecurity in Your Workplace, to learn more about this cyber threat.  

Cybersecurity Breaches

A breach of company cybersecurity, theft, removal or manipulation of data can have devastating consequences. As a result of this, breaches can limit a company’s ability to function normally. A cybersecurity breach can also be costly to resolve and can decimate client trust. 

Proactively monitor for breaches and cyber threats 

Cyber threats continue to increase and evolve. Hardware and software vulnerabilities are discovered regularly. As a result, businesses are exposed to a steady barrage of security risks. To adopt a proactive and preventative approach to cybersecurity, businesses must have visibility into both internal and external activities, trends and threats to the network and data. 

60% of Small Businesses fold within 6 months of a cyberattack. These 10 Tips will help keep your systems safe from cybercriminals trying to gain access to your data.  

Could your business survive a cyberattack? Contact Verity IT to get prepared!