Types of Attacks in Network Security

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  • 0:03 Different Threats
  • 0:33 Active vs. Passive
  • 1:26 Examples of Active Threats
  • 2:13 Examples of Passive Threats
  • 3:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby

Kaitlin has a BA in political science and extensive experience working in the business world as Director of Marketing and Business Development at a financial advice firm.

Network security specialists must face a wide variety of threats to their data and devices. In this lesson, we'll look at a number of the different types of attacks that can occur.

Different Threats

Given the incredible amount of information that is held on computers and online, it is no surprise that networks are subjected to a number of different types of attack. From a simple forever-loop gone wrong to an advanced persistent threat, there are a number of ways that your computer or your data can be attacked. In this lesson, we will first classify these attacks in one of two categories before looking at examples of each, seeing what these attacks are capable of along the way.

Active vs. Passive

Before we go any further, it is crucial that we understand a major difference between two dominant types of threats: active and passive. An active threat is one that actively seeks to damage or destroy your information. A few years ago, the Stuxnet virus destroyed a number of computers, especially those dealing with the Iranian nuclear program. While the publishers of Stuxnet remain secret, Stuxnet was an active threat.

Passive threats, on the other hand, do not seek to do anything to your data except monitor it. They want to keep an eye on what you are doing, and when something interesting, like a credit card number or personal health information, appears on screen, they surreptitiously take a screenshot and send it back to their home server without being noticed. While you can continue to use your computer or mobile device, the threat is no less real.

Examples of Active Threats

Stuxnet is one of the most famous specific examples of an active attack, but there are a number of others. Some of the most common are as follows:

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