What Are Automated Attacks?
Automated attacks on the internet refer to malicious digital activities launched by automated systems with the aim of disrupting, damaging, or gaining unauthorized access to a network, system, or application. These attacks employ malicious computer code, bots, and scripts, to target a wide range of organizations to steal sensitive data, disrupt operations, or gain access to otherwise restricted systems.
Cyberattacks that use automation are a growing threat to businesses of all sizes, especially those without detection in place. As the sophistication of cybercrime grows, so too do the organizational risks. By understanding what automated attacks are and how they can be used to target businesses, businesses can better protect their systems and data. Taking proactive steps to prevent automated cyberattacks is essential to protecting a business's valuable assets and ensuring its long-term success.
Types of Automated Attacks
Automated attacks are one of the greatest web hacking threats facing businesses today, even those with detection in place. These attacks use automated scripts or programs to exploit weaknesses in applications, networks and systems. Automated cyberattacks are especially dangerous because they can be used to quickly launch large-scale attacks that can cause significant damage. Here are the hottest automated attacks on the internet:
- Bad Bots are used by hackers, from lone cybercriminals to criminal organizations, to run automated tasks such as data indexing and attack execution, making them the tool of choice for launching sophisticated attacks. These automated bot attacks pose a significant threat and must be taken seriously. Cybercriminals can go even further by hacking the bot or infecting it with malware to transform it into a data thief.
- DDoS Attack is an attack on a computer system or network that floods it with useless traffic, making it inaccessible to legitimate users. They can be launched from multiple compromised systems and are often difficult to trace back to the original source.
- Credential Stuffing is an attack that takes advantage of people's tendency to reuse passwords. It involves using usernames and passwords that were obtained from other data breaches to try and gain access to accounts and sensitive data like credit cards. The attack is more successful since bots can be used to rapidly and repeatedly attempt logins.
- Brute Force Attack is an attempt to gain access to a system or network by trying every possible combination of username and password. Hackers have been known to use brute force, in addition to passwords, to try and guess encryption keys or find hidden web pages. Although this trial and error process may seem to be lengthy and inefficient, hackers can speed up the process by exploiting bots to test the passwords or login information multiple times.
- SQL Injection Attack is a cyberattack on a database that tries to inject malicious code into the database in order to gain access to sensitive information. It is one of the most common forms of attack on databases, and can be used to steal confidential data or even delete data.
- The php programming language is a popular choice for web development as it offers a variety of features and capabilities—but php also has a number of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. SQL injection is one type of the attacks used against php-based websites, which allows attackers to execute malicious code on the server which can result in the theft of data or damage to the website.
- Cross-Site Scripting Attack tries to inject malicious code into a website in order to gain access to sensitive information. This malicious code can be used to steal sensitive information such as passwords and credit card information from unsuspecting users.
- Phishing Attacks are designed to trick users into giving up sensitive information or downloading malicious software—and it can be difficult to detect, even for the most experienced user. The rise of spear phishing is slightly more complex, as it relies on the use of social engineering.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attack intercepts communications between two or more parties in order to gain access to sensitive information. In this attack, the attacker has the ability to modify or delete the intercepted information without either of the communicating parties noticing.
- Malware Attack uses malicious software to gain access to a computer system or network—and can be spread through email, websites, downloads, and malicious advertisements. Malware in the wild serves a countless number of functions, generally designed to automate attacks against systems and simplify hacking overall.
If you are connected to the internet, it is likely that you will witness a variety of these automated attacks. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as "internet noise" or "Script Kiddie attacks." These unsophisticated attacks happen when a vulnerability is found—and a script is created to exploit it. The script is then used by people known as "script kiddies" to scan the internet in search of vulnerable systems—similar to someone walking up and down the street checking for unlocked doors.
Why Businesses Should Care About Automated Attacks
Businesses today need to be aware of these active hacking campaigns because this type of cybercrime can easily threaten the security of networks, data, and customer information. These automated threats allow malicious actors to launch large-scale attacks that can cause significant damage to a company’s reputation, bottom line, and data integrity. Automated attacks can be especially damaging for smaller businesses that may not have the resources for proper security detection and response.
Cybercriminals don't just target large enterprises—in fact, almost half of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. This is because SMBs typically don't have the same robust security systems in place as larger corporations, making them more vulnerable targets. The impacts of these attacks can be substantial, from direct financial losses to costly disruptions, and even financial penalties for regulatory and compliance violations.
By understanding the different types of automated attacks, businesses can take defensive steps like implementing security measures such as strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and using firewalls to block malicious traffic. Businesses should also monitor their networks and systems for signs of malicious activity, such as suspicious login attempts or unusual traffic patterns. By taking these steps, businesses can implement more robust web application security and protect themselves from automated attack, including the damage they can cause.
Automated cyberattacks can have significant consequences for businesses, from the exposure of confidential information to disruption and denial of services, financial losses, and a decrease in customer loyalty. Such cybercrime can hinder customers from accessing their desired products or services, resulting in frustration as well as financial losses.
How to Prevent Automated Attacks
Implementing effective mechanisms to protect users from automated attacks is possible across the organization, which is why businesses should consider a number of steps to prevent automated hacks from causing disruption. First, all networks must be secure. This includes not only application firewalls, but also regularly updating software and keeping antivirus and other security programs up to date. Additionally, businesses should consider using two-factor authentication as an added layer of security, as well as these best practices:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA): The OWASP cheat sheet for authentication recommends implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA adds an extra layer of security to access applications, making it much harder for automated attacks to succeed. Microsoft's analysis suggests that using MFA could have prevented 99.99% of user account compromises. Clearly, MFA is an essential part of protecting your users from automated attacks.
- Account Lockout: An account lockout mechanism is one of the most popular security measures for protecting users from automated attacks. This mechanism works by locking out user accounts after a certain number of failed login attempts, rather than just blocking the attacker's source IP address. This is effective for thwarting automated attacks that use multiple IP addresses. When implementing an account lockout mechanism, there are three key elements to consider.
- The lockout threshold is the maximum number of unsuccessful logins that must take place before an account is blocked.
- The observation window is the period during which these unsuccessful attempts must take place.
- The lockout duration is the length of time the account will remain locked out for.
In order to avoid a denial of service attack when establishing an account lockout mechanism, you should permit users to reset their passwords even if their account is locked out.
- CAPTCHA: CAPTCHAs are good defense against automated attacks because they can be used to verify that a user is a real person and not a malicious automated program. CAPTCHAs are designed to be difficult for computers to solve, but easy for humans to answer. This makes it difficult for automated programs to bypass the CAPTCHA and gain access to a website or system.
- Logging: This strategy is a good defense against automated attacks because it allows organizations to detect suspicious activity in their network. Logs can be used to detect anomalies in user activity, such as suspicious login attempts or excessive data transfers in a short period of time. Logs can also be used to track down malicious activity and trace the source of the attack. Additionally, logs provide organizations with an audit trail which can be used for forensic analysis in the event of an attack.
- Password-less Login: is a good defense against automated attacks because it eliminates the possibility of hackers using stolen passwords to gain access to an account. Since there is no password to be used, attackers cannot use automated methods of brute force or dictionary attacks to gain access. Additionally, password-less logging provides an additional layer of security by using two-factor authentication or other methods of verification, such as biometrics, to confirm the identity of the user. This makes it even harder for automated attacks to gain access to an account.
Always keep an eye out for suspicious activity on a network. This security step includes monitoring for unusual traffic, looking out for malicious scripts, and regularly checking logs. Regularly scanning for vulnerabilities can also help businesses identify any potential weaknesses in their systems that could be exploited by automated cyberattacks.
Arkose Labs Protects Businesses from Automated Attacks
Arkose Labs specializes in protecting businesses from automated attacks. Our proprietary technologies leverage advanced machine learning and risk-based authentication to create a layered defense system that is able to detect and stop automated attacks before they can do any harm. By monitoring user behavior and dynamically assessing risk after each request, we are able to detect and block bad requests before they have a chance to wreak havoc.
At Arkose Labs, we understand that attacks using automation can be extremely damaging, potentially costing both time and money. That is why we are committed to providing the highest level of cyber protection possible. Our technology is constantly being updated to stay ahead of the ever-evolving threat landscape, ensuring that your business is always protected. With Arkose Labs as your partner, you can rest assured that your business is safe from automated attacks.