10 Types Of Cyber Attack:

  1. Phishing Email
  2. Computer Virus
  3. Malware
  4. Ransomware
  5. Trojan
  6. Spyware
  7. Adware
  8. Credentials Stuffing
  9. Social Engineering
  10. Outdated Software

When it comes to cyber attacks, modern day hackers have multiple options to choose from. Some types of cyber attack rely on tricking you into actively clicking a link or downloading a file, whilst others hide within legitimate software. In some instances, you will know right away that something is wrong while in other cases, the cyber attack is far more subtle and can lie dormant for years.

Having an idea of what you’re up against makes it a lot easier to ensure your defences are up to scratch and that your employees are well-informed.

What are the different types of cyber attacks?


Phishing Email

When a hacker sends an email pretending to be someone legitimate, in the hope that the recipient will be fooled and either click a malicious link,download an attachment, or respond with confidential information. The name is a spin on the word ‘fishing’, as hackers are essentially sending out a piece of bait in the hope that someone bites. Any links within the email are likely to take you to a fake webpage set up to look legitimate, which asks for personal information such as credit card details, email addresses and passwords.

Computer Virus

Much like a physical virus, a computer virus works by replicating malicious code and spreading it uncontrollably through a device and network. It uses a file as its ‘host’, infecting it before replicating on moving onto the next file.

Viruses are particularly problematic in the workplace, where lots of devices are all connected to each other, making it easier for the virus to spread to everybody else.

A virus can only work if has been activated. It can sit dormant on your device for long periods of time until you somehow accidentally trigger it to run. Ultimately, a virus is capable of corrupting if not outright destroying your files, as well as stealing information and creating spam.


Short for malicious software, malware is simply a broad term for any piece of software that has a harmful intent. Viruses, Trojans, worms and spyware are all different types of malware. Using malware, a hacker can take control of parts of your company, cause damage, delete data or just disable functions.


Ransomware is a specific type of malware where the hacker’s focus is on gaining hold of your data and threatening to either publicly release it or delete everything, if you don’t pay up. The ransomware is typically introduced to a device through a phishing email. You unwittingly download a harmful email attachment which is then able to take over the device. More complex versions of ransomware are so realistic looking that users are tricked into approving administrative access. Once embedded within the device, the ransomware selects a set of data and encrypts it, making it inaccessible to you. The only way to remove the encryption is with a mathematical key, held by the hacker. To get that key, you need to follow the instructions provided and pay money to what is most likely an untraceable account. Of course, there is no guarantee that the hacker will remain true to their word and return the data.


Taking its name for famous ancient Greek mythology, a Trojan virus is one that disguises itself as something legitimate in order to gain access your computer. Once in, it acts as a backdoor entry point for other malware, just like how the Greek soldiers were able to sneak into Troy and open the front gates for the  rest of the army. With a Trojan in place, the hacker can take control of the computer and begin stealing data, deleting files and generally causing havoc.


As the name clearly suggests, spyware is a form of malware which is specifically designed to spy on you. Hackers are likely to choose this type of cyber attack if they want to get hold of valuable personal information, such as passwords or credit card details.

Spyware is capable of tracking and recording your digital movements without you even realising it.

It might only come to light when you begin to feel the effects of criminal activity. Whilst hiding in the background, it can massively compromise your privacy and security.


Whilst not inherently malicious, adware can increase your device’s vulnerability to cyber attacks and make it easier for other malware to take root. Adware allows websites to display infinite pop ups and other forms of intrusive online advertising, and collect data about how you interact with them. The way in which some adware operates can result in your security settings being lowered, making you more susceptible to other types of cyber attack.

Credentials Stuffing

Credentials stuffing is a form of cyber attack in which a hacker obtains someone’s username and password for one system, and attempts to use them to login into other protected areas. This method takes advantage of the fact that people regularly use the same username/password combinations for multiple logins. It’s not about using brute force or simply guessing passwords, but making use of information they’ve already been able to obtain, still fraudulently. The process is typically automated.

Social Engineering

Social engineering describes all types of cyber attack where there is a heavy reliance on human interaction. In order for the cyber attack to work, a hacker needs to manipulate you into clicking a link, downloading a file, installing a programme or disclose information to them. If they can gain your trust by disguising themselves as a reputable company, like a bank, or a close friend or family member, you are more likely to simply hand over your personal details. For the hacker, that’s a lot easier route than trying to get past all your technical defences.

Outdated Software

Every time you put off updating your software, the likelihood of  you falling victim to a cyber attack increases. Updates are vital for ensuring that any vulnerabilities within a system are fixed. Failure to update can turn you into a target for hackers who are aware of the specific weakness and are looking to exploit it.