How to Identify Cyber Attacks?

The pandemic accelerated remote working culture and the digital transformation of businesses worldwide. This, in turn, led to the availability of personal and professional sensitive information online. Consequently, cyber attackers have used this change to perform their nefarious activities and target myriad businesses to exploit them financially. 

A wide range of industries has become vulnerable to sophisticated cyber-attacks. This targeting and exploiting of personal information for gaining access to sensitive data, networks and systems for financial gains are known as identity-based cyber attacks. It is carried out through different means such as phishing, credential stuffing, fraud and impersonation. 

According to the latest studies, a majority of data breaches occur due to compromised identities. In various cases reported in the past many years, successful identity-based cyber attacks leak personal data such as names, addresses, bank details, and medically related information on the dark web.        

Another challenge with identity-based cyberattacks is that they are difficult to detect for a long period of time. Traditional tools and measures do not have the capability to distinguish between the real user and the one in disguise. 

Find about identity-based cyber attacks, different types of identity-based cyber attacks, how to handle them effectively and more below. 

Identify-based Cyber Attacks and Their Types

  • Credential Stuffing

Credential stuffing is regarded as a subset of brute-force attacks. In this type of cyber attack, the threat actor tries to use different credentials (usernames and passwords) from an online data dump of stolen credentials on websites and portals to hack into at least one successfully. The main source of stolen credentials is the dark web. This type of attack easily works on users who use the same password on all platforms. Using advanced and automated tools, cybercriminals cover many platforms in a short time. When one of the attempts returns as successful, personal data, bank details and other information is accessed. Multifactor authentication, setting up CAPTCHA and educating users to use strong passwords are some of the methods that can help to prevent this type of attack. 

  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack (MitM)

A man-in-the-middle attack involves interception of a network connection, people or systems. This enables the cyber attacker to eavesdrop on the conversation and gather necessary information. In other words, the attacker gains a level of access where all data that goes into the system and in transit can be monitored.MitM is highly sophisticated in nature. The threat actor, first of all, uses tools to copy a legitimate Wi-Fi access point. When the user connects to the Wi-Fi, the credentials are easily accessed by the attacker. Even if it is encrypted, different programs or malicious ways are used to decrypt it. 

  • Password Spraying

Password spraying is part of brute-force attacks. In this type of identity-based attack, the threat actor is engaged in a guessing game and uses commonly used poor passwords in multiple accounts to gain access. Through extensive research, the attacker determines the length of the password, and the use of special characters, numbers and other specific characteristics. Experts suggest developing and using signing-in policies where accounts are locked up after a few invalid attempts.  Implementing CAPTCHA is a best practice too. Another method is to encourage and enforce good password creation when the account is created. 

  • Golden Ticket Attack

A golden ticket attack is an attack type where cyber threat actors try to gain near to unlimited access to a company’s domain. This is achieved by gaining access to user data present in the Microsoft Active Directory (AD). The attack type primarily exploits the weakness in the Kerberos identity authentication protocol enabling it to clear normal authentication easily. 

  • Kerberoasting

Kerberoasting is related to the golden ticket attack. Experts term it as a post-exploitation attack strategy or approach where a password break attempt is carried out within the AD. In this type of attack, the attackers disguise themself as users with service principal names and request a ticket with an encrypted password or Kerberos. As soon as the plaintext credentials of the service account are leaked or exposed, user credentials are leaked. This is used to impersonate the account owner. 

  • Pass the Hash Attack

Pass the Hash Attack is used by cybercriminals to steal a hashed credential. This is used to create a new user session on the same network. Social engineering techniques are usually employed to gain access to the network. Once in, different advanced means are used to get the valuable data that lead to hashes. When single or many valid passwords are accessed, the attacker gets full access to the system. 

  • Silver Ticket Attack

When the cyber attack happens and the actor steals the account password successfully, a silver ticket is created which is essentially a forged authentication ticket. This is further used to forge ticket-granting service tickets. What’s more, the silver ticket forged can be used to run code as the targeted local system. This can eventually help in getting a golden ticket.

How to Protect Business from Identity-based Cyber Attacks

  • Early Detection

The identity-based cyber attack risks can be kept at bay through early detection measures and practices. Since these types of attacks can happen from anywhere in the world, geographical location is of no importance. Urgent, proactive and collaborative efforts are thus required to monitor and detect such attack types. The professionals in the security industry plus the governments should look at the dark web and the internet to prevent and protect identities. 

  • Regulatory Compliance

As cyber attackers successfully breach sensitive data of employees and users, the business ends up suffering not only financially but reputation wise too. Plus, hefty fines are sometimes required to be paid as per the regulations and rules of the country. Thus, organisations need to be proactive and take appropriate measures at the right time. Customized security programs must be implemented by key decision-makers. 

Changes in regulatory standards are also happening quite rapidly throughout the world. Thus, organisations must be prepared at all levels of the business to combat cyber attacks. 

Identity-led security is the need of the hour. Zero Trust architecture also has emerged as a robust strategy to combat identity-based cyber attacks.