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An attack is an attempt by a cyber criminal to intentionally cause harm to a service, product, or website.

This can be through a malware infection, breach, exploitation, or any other form of malicious activity. An attack covers anything that affects a system's confidentiality, integrity, or availability - including trying to access data, files, images, or any other sensitive and personal information.

Other Definitions

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC):

Attacker: "Malicious actor who seeks to exploit computer systems with the intent to change, destroy, steal or disable their information, and then exploit the outcome."


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In computers and computer networks an attack is any attempt to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain information through unauthorized access to or make unauthorized use of an asset.[1] A cyberattack is any type of offensive maneuver that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks, or personal computer devices. An attacker is a person or process that attempts to access data, functions or other restricted areas of the system without authorization, potentially with malicious intent.[2] Depending on context, cyberattacks can be part of cyberwarfare or cyberterrorism. A cyberattack can be employed by sovereign states, individuals, groups, society or organizations, and it may originate from an anonymous source. A product that facilitates a cyberattack is sometimes called a cyberweapon.

A cyberattack may steal, alter, or destroy a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system.[3] Cyberattacks can range from installing spyware on a personal computer to attempting to destroy the infrastructure of entire nations. Legal experts are seeking to limit the use of the term to incidents causing physical damage, distinguishing it from the more routine data breaches and broader hacking activities.[4]

Cyberattacks have become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous.[5]

User behavior analytics and SIEM can be used to help prevent these attacks

Other useful content:

  • Types of attack
  • Spotting an attack
  • Recovering from an attack