As cyberattacks continue to be an ever-present concern for small and medium businesses (SMBs), one of the key ways to prevent one from happening to your organization is to know what types of attacks in network security are most likely to occur. As the years have gone by, the number and complexity of cyberattacks have increased and attackers are able to deploy hacking software through network-based ransomware. While bad actors are often looking for economic gain via ransom, attacks can be executed for many reasons.

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Let’s start with a broad definition of cyberattacks before we dig into the specifics: a cyberattack is any type of offensive action which targets computer information systems, infrastructure, networks, or personal devices using various methods to steal, alter, or destroy data and/or information systems. While these varied methods have evolved and changed over time, some common themes continue to be most prevalent. Let’s take a look at the seven most prevalent types of attacks in network security and the strategies attackers use to infiltrate your networks.


Malware refers to any program within the library of malicious software designed to infiltrate, spy on, or create a backdoor through which an organization’s systems or data can be controlled. These include ransomware, worms, Trojans, adware, and spyware. While the use of ransomware has been prevalent for years, they continue to be one of the most common types of attacks in network security —with one report indicating that the use of malware had increased a staggering 800% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In 2019, phishing attacks constituted nearly one-third of all data breaches. Phishing attacks attempt to steal information from users or trick them into downloading malware either through sending malicious emails or through text messaging (smishing). These messages may seem legitimate, but they are, indeed, a scam.

Distributed Denial of Service

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is designed to disrupt the traffic to a website, application, server, service, or network. These attacks overwhelm the aforementioned services with a torrent of traffic from already compromised computer networks (called botnets) that prevent real users from accessing them. From 2019 to 2020, DDoS attacks increased 50%, with the surge coming in early 2020 during the pandemic.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

When a bad actor spies on and/or intercepts communication between you and your users or employees, a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack has occurred. MitM attacks are most commonly used to steal personal or company information or to redirect that information. While not the most common cyberattack—since malware can perform many of the same functions—MitM attacks do represent a threat to organizations since they’re hard to spot and more employees are now working remotely.

Credential Stuffing

Credential stuffing is a type of brute-force cyberattack where bad actors use stolen usernames and passwords from one data breach to access user accounts at another organization. This is possible because, statistically, 65% of all people reuse the same password across multiple accounts. The result: credential stuffing attacks are one of the most common causes of data breaches globally.

Password Spraying

Another type of brute-force attack is password spraying, in which the bad actor will attempt to guess the user’s password, usually by using a list of common passwords. Like credential stuffing, the password spraying method is quite common: Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Report showed that over 80% of all hacking-related data breaches involve brute-force methods like password spraying.

Mobile Device Attacks

Many organizations are working towards increasing the mobility of their workforce—this improves operational efficiency and productivity. However, cybercriminals are aware of these initiatives and are targeting mobile devices more frequently every year. This puts organizations at risk for a data breach through more devices.

There are many methods a cybercriminal can use to attack your organization, your network, and your data. Putting together an effective defense requires understanding what threats are out there. Unfortunately, with all the potential for attacks, it can be difficult to know which ones are targeting your organization. This is why it’s particularly important for SMBs to have a team of cybersecurity specialists who know the threats and how to prevent them. Contact Innovative Integration today for the help you need.

In 2022 the average cost of a data breach was $4.35 million. Don't let your organization be a target for online hackers! Get the facts on cybersecurity. Get Your Infographic here!