A cyber-attack takes place in cyberspace. Cyberspace can be understood as a metaphor describing virtual (non-physical) environment created by interconnecting computer systems in the network. In cyberspace there is the same interaction between subjects as there is in the real world – but without necessity of physical activity. Information is shared either in a real time or it can be delayed, people can buy things, share experience, search contents, conduct research, work, or play .
A cyber-attack is an activity carried out by an attacker, aim of whom is to get, modify, or destroy data (information, influence in a negative way or take over the control of some elements of cyberspace infrastructure). Cyber-attacks happen more and more frequently and are better organized. Dealing with their consequences is more and more expensive. This damage can reach a level that can endanger prosperity, security and stability of a country or an organization (possibly an individual). The fundamentals of cyber system security are supervision of cyberspace system infrastructure elements, security incidents management, regular audits, cyberspace systems vulnerability assessment, or carrying out penetration tests. Cyber-attack affects key features of a technology.
This can endanger lives of people, or seriously endanger a process of production, technology, or services. That is why a cyber-attack can be defined as an attack on the structure of information technologies. The aim of such attack is either damaging or gaining sensitive or strategically important information. It is very often connected with politically or militarily motivated attacks . In these days organized crime in cyberspace provides more profit but lowers the risk for a hacker to be traced and tried. Ministries and government agencies all over the world face hundreds or thousands of attacks every day. Their security is threatened by hackers sponsored by money coming from foreign countries and organizations. They also focus on international companies which very often are not, in case of a cyber-attack, willing to cooperate with the police or FBI. The reason is they are afraid of long and demanding investigation.
An effort to limit the attacked subject’s activities (making their web sites unavailable, so called “hacktivism”) or political activism (changing information, disinformation, scaremongering) which is connected with, so called, “perception management” (influencing public opinion using manipulative information chosen for target subjects) can be found among the cyber-attacks targets. These targets are different from common targets of hackers, crackers, or electronic sprayers who usually attack web sites in order to demonstrate their abilities. In cyber warfare we talk about coordinated activities purposely targeting other countries or a group of people. Probably the most famous cyber-attacks are the ones on SCADA systems using the Stuxnet worm. The most famous published attack delayed start-up of Iranian Bushehr nuclear plant. The attack was focused on uranium enrichment factory in Natanz where fuel for this power plant was being prepared.
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