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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Researchers identify 57 categories of cyber attack

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers at the University of Kent's School of Computing and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, set out to define and codify the different ways in which the various cyber-attacks can occur, and came up with 57 different types in five key themes (shown below).

"It's been well understood that cyber-attacks can have numerous negative impacts. However, this is the first time there has been a detailed investigation into what these impacts are, how varied they can be, and how they can propagate over time," said Dr Jason R.C. Nurse from the Kent School of Computing. "This base figure of 57 underlines how damaging cyber-incidents can be and we hope it can help to better understand how a business, individual or even nation is affected by a cyber-attack. This is going to be even more relevant as everything and everyone becomes connected and the Internet of Things is fully realised."

The five themes are:
  • Physical/Digital
  • Economic
  • Psychological
  • Reputational
  • Social/societal
For embedded designers, the physical and digital attacks are of course key, but these may also have economic impacts and may come as a result of psychological or social attacks.

Each category contains specific outcomes that underline the serious impact cyber-attacks can have. For example, under the Physical/Digital category there is the loss of life or damage to infrastructure, while the Economic category lists impacts such as a fall in stock price, regulatory fines or reduced profits as a possibility.

By providing a detailed breakdown of the many different ways a cyber-attack can impact a business and third-parties, it gives engineers, board members and other senior staff a better understanding of both direct and indirect harms from cyber-attacks.

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