What is an Attack Vector and How to Stop it?

With the advancement in the security programs and systems, cybercriminals use several ways to gain a system’s authorization.

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One such method is the Attack Vector.

Let us know it in detail.

What is an Attack Vector?

Attack Vector is a cybersecurity term for a path or the method by which cybercriminals infiltrate the computer system. They do so to take unauthorized control of your device to deliver malicious files for carrying out illicit activities.

Attack Vector basically helps the attacker to abuse the system’s vulnerabilities, inject the malware into the system, and launch the attack.

Once the attacker or hacker gets the system’s authorization using the malware, it can control the system or the group of systems remotely to gain sensitive data, personally identifiable information (PII), and other organizational information that could lead to a potential data breach.

Majority of developers who can exploit attack vector can be the expert criminals, intelligence agencies of any country, or an ex-employee of the organization.

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Why do Hackers exploit Attack Vectors?

What is an Attack Vector

Mostly the cybercriminals attack any system or organization for the monetary benefits. However, unethical developers exploit Attack Vectors for carrying out other hateful motives too. Here is the list of some of those purposes.

  • Attackers can get their hands on the credit card details and online banking credentials, thereby stealing the victim’s money.
  • Using Attack Vector, criminals can access personal information such as Personally Identifiable Information, biometrics, and healthcare details to carry out insurance fraud, buy illegal drugs, and carry out more other such scams with victims’ identity.
  • Many organizations can carry out such attacks on their competitors to destroy them. They can overload servers with unnecessary data to cause Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks. Moreover, they can also conduct Customer Data Theft.
  • By taking advantage of the attack, the criminals can launch malware on your system to access it remotely. Once it infects a system, it can attack many other devices and could create a botnet. Hackers can use this botnet for conducting many unethical activities like sending thousands of spam or phishing emails, mining cryptocurrency, or carrying out DDoS attacks.
  • As already said, money is not always the motive for such attacks. Criminals can also carry it out to shame a person or an organization publicly. It can also push a cyberwar between multiple nations. Leaking information for political benefits can also be one of the motives. 

How do Hackers Exploit Attack Vectors?

There are several ways through which the cybercriminals can conduct crimes by exploiting Attack Vectors. 

Generally, the Attack Vectors are classified into two parts:

  1. Passive Attacks: In this attempt, the hackers access the system and steal data without disturbing the system resources. Victims often do not notice it on their systems. Examples are Phishing, keylogging, and other social engineering attacks.
  2. Active Attacks: Attackers use it to destroy the system’s functioning and then perform the planned illicit activities. You can notice such attacks quickly and can protect your system by acting fast. Examples are Trojan attacks, ransomware attacks, and others.

Most cyber attackers follow a similar pattern to exploit the Attack Vectors.

  1. At first, a vulnerable target is identified and finalized.

  2. The next step is to gather more information about the target. For that data sniffing tools such as email, malware, or social engineering is used.

  3. Using the information collected in the previous step, the best pathway i.e., the best attack vector, is known, and planning is done accordingly. Malware that would be used for attack is coded, and other necessary tools are collected or created.

  4. By exploiting the attack vector, intruders gather access to the victim’s system, and malware is installed. Illicit activities are started to be carried out.

  5. Attackers begin monitoring the network, using computer resources for their purpose, and stealing information.

What are the common types of attack vectors?

Following are the most common types of Attack Vectors:

Compromised Insider

Usually, some employees betray their organization for several reasons and pass out the valuable inside information and vulnerabilities to the attackers.

Hacked or Weak Credentials

By using phishing and keyloggers, hackers gather the essential login credentials silently and then use it for attacks. In some organizations, employees create such a weak password that the criminals could easily guess them and further use to exploit the system.


It is one of the most dangerous malware attacks. In the ransomware strike, the program encrypts the data on the victim’s system. You can only decrypt it by using the special keys or tools.


It is a social engineering technique in which the victim is traumatized by fake security callers. Criminals can also intrude by providing fraudulent offers to gather personal or organizational sensitive information.

Missing Encryption Security

Common encryption methods such as SSL certificates are a must for a website. They can prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and encrypt the data which is being transferred on the site. Unfortunately, weak encryption can result in a data breach.


These are the programs that pretend to be useful, thereby misleading the victim to install them. After that, they replicate and conduct various malicious activities.

Brute Force

It is the trial and error based attack in which the hackers try to gain access to the weakly encrypted accounts. In such an attack, a program enters different combinations of passwords continuously until it finds the correct one. However, it is challenging to conduct such attacks manually. Thus, cybercriminals prefer developing a script or software.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) 

In it, the attackers flood the servers and other network resources with unnecessary messages or data to slow it down or crash it so that site becomes inaccessible to the users.

Session hijacking 

In this attack, hackers hijack the session of a user by getting access to the session key or cookie.

How to protect your system against common Attack Vectors?

As you have noticed throughout the post that even small vulnerabilities such as a weak password can lead to significant attacks. To safe yourself from such attacks, you must follow these practices:

  • Before giving away your details to tech support, always verify whether it is legitimate or not. Most tech supports do not ask for sensitive information on the phone.
  • Never open suspicious links, emails, or pop-ups. They can be a trap for the phishing.
  • For avoiding man-in-the-middle attacks, never share your personal information on the sites without an SSL certificate. Moreover, if your website does not have an SSL, get it as early as possible.
  • Always equip your system with a robust antimalware to protect it from trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, and other malware programs. Never wait for the malware attack to happen and then getting the security solution. 
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Attack Vector FAQs

1. What are common attack vectors?

The most common attack vector includes malware, viruses, email attachments, web pages, pop-ups, instant messages, text messages, and social engineering.

2. What is the difference between an Attack Vector and Data Breach?

Data Breach is the incident where an unauthorized organization steals sensitive and protected data using illicit manipulation. Attack Vector is the way through which vulnerabilities are exploited to conduct attacks like Data Breach.

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