Phishing? Ransomware? Botnet? What Kind of Cyber Attack is This?

September 17, 2019

cyber attacksCyberattacks are in the news practically every day. It’s a scary thought that our country’s major infrastructure is vulnerable to computer system hacks. The same is true with our major corporations.

But even small businesses in the Utica area should be careful with the information they store on their computers. And their transactions online with customers. So we thought it would be a good idea to offer you a quick glossary of some of today’s dangerous cyber threats.

Do You Know What These Cyber Attacks Are?


Though this sounds like a leisurely afternoon at the lake, it’s a nefarious way of luring you into giving away your private information. You end up getting hooked by believing an email you receive is from a legitimate source.

The email asks for bits of information such as your social security number, banking and credit card details, and passwords. When you think you’re responding to your bank, your information actually ends up in the hands of criminals.

Spear Phishing

This is the same as above but with a more personal approach. Criminals go after small groups or individuals to get them to offer their confidential information to what they think is a legitimate source.


You may have noticed ransomware demands in the news. Recently, various municipalities have suffered attacks. Ransomware is a malicious software that blocks users from accessing their data or systems. Criminals then demand a ransom be paid for their victims to regain their lost information. The best way to deal with this hack is to have good offsite backups.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack

Here’s where the “internet of things” becomes vulnerable. A Denial of Service attack is one where a network is flooded with bogus traffic to prevent legitimate users from accessing the network. Experts believe that DoS attacks will get worse as criminals exploit the vulnerabilities of networked appliances and smartphones.


A single entity can own just a few computers or thousands, even millions. When all of these computers are compromised, it’s referred to as a botnet. It is typically used to steal data, such as online banking credentials. Or to facilitate other types of cybercrime, like spamming or Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.

Dark Web

Cyber criminals don’t usually operate on the web that you use. There is an anonymous part of the internet where criminals can buy and sell information stolen from businesses or other entities. It’s called the dark web. It requires specific software, configurations, or authorization to access. It’s a marketplace where private, protected, and proprietary information is available for purchase and use by other criminals. It also has available the tools that cyber criminals use to hack into computers, such as viruses, exploit kits and other malware.

We published on our blog a series of articles on the exposures businesses face online and how to minimize their risks. This entails good cybersecurity and a comprehensive cyber insurance policy. Take a look at this post, A Look at Data Breach Insurance from Another Angle. It includes links to our four other posts on cyber security.

The internet is an ever-present fact of life, so criminal advantage is inevitable. We offer cyber liability insurance to our business clients through some of our major carriers. Call us to discuss your business’s cyber security risks and how we can help you minimize them.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.