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Classes of Attack

There are five classes of hacker attack:

  • Passive: Passive attacks include traffic analysis, monitoring of unprotected
    communications, decrypting weakly encrypted traffic, and capturing authentication
    information such as passwords. Passive interception of network operations enables
    adversaries to see upcoming actions. Passive attacks result in the disclosure of
    information or data files to an attacker without the consent or knowledge of the user.
    Examples include the disclosure of personal information such as credit card numbers
    and medical files.

  • Active: Active attacks include attempts to circumvent or break protection features, to
    introduce malicious code, and to steal or modify information. These attacks are
    mounted against a network backbone, exploit information in transit, electronically
    penetrate an enclave, or attack an authorized remote user during an attempt to connect
    to an enclave. Active attacks result in the disclosure or dissemination of data files, DoS,
    or modification of data.

  • Close-in: Close-in attacks consist of regular individuals attaining close physical
    proximity to networks, systems, or facilities for the purpose of modifying, gathering,
    or denying access to information. Close physical proximity is achieved through
    surreptitious entry into the network, open access, or both.

  • Insider: Insider attacks can be malicious or nonmalicious. Malicious insiders
    intentionally eavesdrop, steal, or damage information; use information in a fraudulent
    manner; or deny access to other authorized users. Nonmalicious attacks typically result
    from carelessness, lack of knowledge, or intentional circumvention of security for such
    reasons as performing a task.

  • Distributed: Distribution attacks focus on the malicious modification of hardware or
    software at the factory or during distribution. These attacks introduce malicious code
    such as a back door to a product to gain unauthorized access to information or to a
    system function at a later date.

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