There are a variety of reasons a hacker may choose to initiate a cyberattack, whether it’s to steal valuable information or disrupt a company’s operations. At the same time, there are just as many ways for a cybercriminal to strike (e.g. ransomware, phishing, denial of service). Despite different motives and modes of attack, most cyberattacks follow a surprisingly similar procedure. This procedure is known as the cybersecurity kill chain.
Cyberattack Steps: What You Need To Know
The cybersecurity kill chain model is a framework that was developed by Lockheed Martin. Derived from military attack models, it describes the cyberattack lifecycle and how cyberattacks work to help technicians understand, detect, and prevent persistent cyberthreats. The Lockheed Martin framework is actually one of several cyber kill chain models, but it’s the most well-known in the industry.
Recently, the Whitehouse has warned U.S. businesses that there could be an uptick in cyberattacks as the Russian government retaliates against the sanctions placed on it. The average cost of a cyberattack on U.S. companies has gone up from $1.4 million to $13 million. As a result, it has never been more important to understand how cyberattacks work and to have a cybersecurity solution. The 42, Inc. team can help you the bolster your cybersecurity and protect it from looming cyberthreats.
According to the cybersecurity kill chain model, the stages of a cyberattack include:
Step 1: Reconnaissance
The first phase of a cyberattack typically involves information gathering. The more information a hacker has on their target, the greater their likelihood of success. When it comes to reconnaissance, a cybercriminal has a number of tools and techniques at their disposal. For example, they can use:
- Search Engines
- Web Archives
- Packet Sniffers
- Port Scanners
- Network Mapping
Every method exposes different types of data that can be used for the attack.
Step 2: Weaponize
The next cyberattack step is weaponization. Once a hacker feels they have enough information on their target, they use that information to figure out the best attack vector to invade your network. This is a crucial step, as cybercriminals usually want to follow the path of least resistance. This is why businesses need to consider all possible points of entry into their network.
Commonly used attack vectors include:
- Careless Employees
- Remote Access Services
- Stolen Credentials
- System Misconfiguration
Step 3: Delivery
If step two is a success, the hacker has gained access to your systems. At this point, they have the freedom to deliver whatever attack they want to use (e.g. ransomware, spyware, logic bombs). This attack could be a one-time move or it could be an ongoing process.
Step 4: Exploit
When the hacker delivers the malware, the exploitation of your network can begin. Depending on the type of attack used, the exploit may be delayed or may require specific input from the victim. Malicious programs often include features that hide activity to prevent detection. Once the malware is triggered, the attack begins as planned.
Step 5: Install
Part of what makes cyberattacks so troublesome is the fact that hackers can plant malware for future attacks and you may be none the wiser. If the hacker sees an opportunity, they might install a backdoor that allows them to move in and out of a network without the risk of detection. These backdoors can be established through rootkits (a program designed to provide continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence), weak credentials, or anything else that won’t raise an alarm.
Step 6: Callback
With the malware or virus installed and a backdoor established, the attacker takes action. In this phase, everything the hacker does is to maintain control of the target. Usually, if you notice the intrusion at this stage, it’s too late to save your system. By continuously monitoring your network for suspicious traffic, you have a higher likelihood of preventing a hacker from reaching this step.
Step 7: Persist
The final cyberattack step is the persist stage, in which the hacker continuously executes the attack. This may involve encrypting more of your data, withdrawing seized information for monetary gain, or bringing down your network.
How To Handle a Cyberattack
To avoid becoming the victim of a cyberattack, you need strong cybersecurity measures. For example, an IT assessment can give you insight into your infrastructure and reveal any vulnerabilities in your network. With 24/7 network monitoring, you can identify suspicious traffic much quicker. And disaster recovery can help you restore any information lost to an attack. This works by an MSP backing up your data before hand, and using that data to replace any information that was lost.
Protect Your Business With 42, Inc.
If you’re worried about the dangers of a cyberattack, reach out to the cybersecurity experts at 42, Inc. We offer a wide range of cybersecurity services to protect your business from all sides. Our team makes it easy by being a single point of contact for all your cybersecurity needs. We can even customize our services, as part of our managed services plan, to meet the unique needs of your organization.
Contact us today to learn more.