6 Common Cybersecurity Hacking Methods & How They Work 

JIM DEBOER, service manager


When it comes to cyber security, you must ensure that your company’s systems are up to par with modern standards. The first step is familiarizing yourself with the most common cybersecurity hacking methods and understanding how they work.


1. Malware 

Malware is arguably the most prevalent cybersecurity hacking method. The hacker typically sends malicious software to your computer via a link or email attachment. If you click on that link, the software is installed on your computer. 

Once inside, the malware can retrieve sensitive data from your hard drive, prevent access to vital components of your network, or completely incapacitate your system. The most common types of malware are: 


Ransomware is malicious software that encrypts data on either a computer or an entire network. The ‘ransom’ in ransomware comes from the extortion attempt that follows encryption. Attackers will demand a ransom or fee to be paid in cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) in exchange for a program to decrypt and recover your data.


A virus is a corrupted computer program that attaches itself to another program to cause damage to your system. Once you run the infected program, the virus spreads to other programs on your computer. 


A Trojan is a type of malware that disguises itself as a harmless and useful computer program when it is actually a malicious file. Trojans do not necessarily replicate themselves like viruses. They are commonly used by hackers to establish a backdoor through which to exploit your system (in the same way the Greeks used Trojan Horses to invade their enemies).


A worm is similar to a virus in the way it is usually sent (via email) and self-replicates. The main difference is that a virus attaches itself to a host program while a worm can live in its own individual program. A worm can also spread by itself without your interference. Other types of malware include spyware, adware, etc.


2. Phishing 

Cybercriminals can also use phishing to steal your identity and money. The attacker sends you an email pretending to be someone trustworthy (a bank manager, interviewer, celebrity, social media page, etc.). They use convincing words to prompt you to give up sensitive information such as your card details, passwords, bank credentials, etc. They then use this information to steal your identity and hack your accounts. 

Hackers typically combine phishing with other methods, such as malware, network attacks, and code injection, for a successful hack. Apart from email phishing, the other types of phishing commonly used by attackers include angler phishing, vishing, smishing, whaling, and spear phishing. 

Here are two articles to help you learn more about phishing scams and how to avoid them:


3. DoS (Denial of Service)

A DoS attack is designed to shut down your network or computer and deny access to the end users. The attackers flood the machine or network with an overwhelming amount of bad network traffic, thus preventing normal traffic from accessing the system or internet. There are two types of DoS attacks: 

  • Flood DoS attacks: The hacker oversaturates the servers with large quantities of data packets, leading to DoS. 
  • Buffer overflow attacks: The attacker targets and exhausts all of the system’s memory, hard drive space, and/or CPU time with the goal of crashing the system. 

DoS attacks can also come in the form of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), where hackers launch the attack from multiple infected host computers.


4. SQL Injection

SQL injection is a hacking method where cybercriminals use malicious code to access your company’s database and retrieve vital information. Once inside, they can steal, modify or delete the data. The attackers can also gain administrative rights and potentially further compromise your organization. 

SQL injection is one of the oldest and worst cybersecurity attacks that gives hackers access to intellectual property, personal data, and trade secrets of a company. It can target websites or web applications with SQL databases such as MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle. 


5. Password Attack 

Once a hacker has your passwords, they can access vital data and systems with devastating consequences. Password attackers use various methods to access your private accounts, including: 

  • A brute-force attack – This is one of the simplest hacking methods that relies primarily on trial and error to crack passwords, login details, encryption keys, and more. The hackers use a program to attempt all the possible combinations of available information to find the right password. 
  • A dictionary attack – The hacker guesses from a list of passwords to try and gain access to your machine and network. 

Cybercriminals can use a number of ways to obtain your passwords, including testing your network connection to find unencrypted passwords, phishing, breaking into a password database, using social engineering, or simply guesswork. Be sure to read this article to learn how to keep your passwords and accounts protected.


6. Keylogger/Keystroke Logger/Keyboard Capture

Keylogger is a program that records every activity on your computer, even the mouse clicks. Software versions can come as a part of any of the malware varieties listed above. Some attackers can also insert a physical keylogger device into your computer with the ability to capture your entire computer activity and send it to themselves. Hackers often use keyloggers to steal login details and sensitive data such as passwords, email ids, pin codes, and account numbers. 


Lutz Tech Can Help

Modern hackers use advanced skills to try and trick you. It’s important to be vigilant and understand the common tactics to avoid falling victim to a cybersecurity breach. Contact us today for any questions or learn more about our Lutz Tech services.





Jim DeBoer is a Service Manager at Lutz Tech with over 15 years of experience in the technology industry. He is responsible for troubleshooting computer and server discrepancies, responding to technical inquiries from clients, as well as providing onsite assistance to outsourced IT clients.

  • Outsourced IT
  • Technical Support
  • IT Infrastructure
  • Client Service
  • Technology
  • VMWare VCP
  • Microsoft MCSA
  • Microsoft Certified Professional
  • BS in Network Engineering, University of Advancing Technology, Tempe, AZ


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