What Is An Attack Vector? A Basic Guide In 2021


  1. What is an Attack vector?  
  2. Difference between the attack vector and attack surfaces
  3. Why are attack vectors exploited in cybersecurity? 
  4. How to exploit attack vectors? 

1. What is an Attack vector?  

In the cybersecurity world, numerous cyber-attacks have led to various mishaps that have challenged the security system. An attack vector is not an attack but a means or road through which an intruder can easily acquire unauthorized access to the computer or network system to carry out their malicious intentions. Hackers thus attack the integrity of the system and penetrate the system. Attackers with attack vectors’ help can exploit the system vulnerabilities, install various kinds of malware without the operator’s notice and get successful in launching cyberattacks.

Attack Vector can be employed to attain access to sensitive information, personally identifiable information (PII), and various other restricted information that will give rise to data breach and data stealing. The attack vector in cyber-security is considered a loophole causing various damage to the systems.  

The attack vectors examples include viruses, malware, web pages, instant messages, text messages, and social engineering. 

2. Difference between the attack vector and attack surfaces

The attack vector is a means or way to attain unauthorized access to the network, computer or information system without the knowledge of its owner. 

Whereas Attack surface is the aggregate number of attack vectors which an intruder can use to affect the network, computer or IS system, or manipulate and extract the information which leads to data integrity loss. 

3. Why are attack vectors exploited in cybersecurity? 

Cyber attackers can increase their financial gains by exploiting the information system software and can gain access to sensitive information such as credit card numbers, account numbers, login details of internet banking, etc. by using cyber attack vectors.

But in the emerging technological world, attackers can gain a financial edge in a more refined approach. They can infect the system by adopting various malware that will grant them remote access to crucial servers. They can infect numerous computer systems and establish botnet, which can be used for sensitive data stealing, sending phishing emails, and launching other cyber attacks. 

  • Bot attack meaning: Botnet attack is a kind of malicious attack over the system that uses a range of computers and networks. It penetrates the system to disrupt and degrade the overall service of the targeted system. 

Competitors may hire attackers to get a competitive edge over your business, corporate espionage, or flooding the connection with Distributed   Denial of Service (DDoS) attack vectors that will cause unnecessary downtime, reduce sales leading to customer dissatisfaction, and hence losing the market share. 

Hired Attackers can also leak information to damage the reputation, cause public embarrassment, and can also cause legal repercussions. 

4. How to exploit attack vectors? 

There are numerous ways to exploit, destruct, alter, or infect the integrity of the systems, networks, information, infrastructure, and IoT devices. 

Attack Vectors are bifurcated into streams: Passive and Active. 

  • Passive: It attempts to gain access or utilize the information system but does not infect the system. Examples of such attempts are phishing,  typosquatting, and other social engineering-based attacks. 
  • Active: It attempts to affect the system such as exploiting vulnerabilities, installing malware, spoofing, hijacking, and ransomware. 

The methodology adopted by attackers is: 

  • Attackers recognize the target. 
  • They gather information about the targeted system by using social engineering, malware, phishing, snooping, and OPSEC.  
  • Attackers via this information, identify the suitable attack vector and make or use the available tool to abuse the system. 
  • Intruders attain access to the system and sensitive information. They also install malicious software that infects your whole system. 
  • Attackers then monitor the system, get unauthorized access to the information and utilize the valuable resources without any permission. 

In fast-developing technologies, it is essential to have a risk management team that will maintain, detect and eradicate any system flaws without causing financial and reputation damage to the organization. 

  • Common Attack Vectors: Given below is the list of attack vectors from which you need to safeguard the company. 
  1. Compromised credentials.  Passwords and Usernames are the most vulnerable credential and can be easily accessed and exploited. Password management, two-step authentication, password setting criteria, and biometrics can reduce the risk of its exploitation.
  2. Vulnerabilities. There are many vulnerabilities the organization has that expose the system to threats.  The vulnerability can be poor access control. A zero-day vulnerability is not found often. 
  3. Brute-force attacks.  It requires a lot of trial and error. Intruders continuously work over it to gain access to the system. They can be in form of phishing emails, vulnerable passwords, or encryption. 
  4. Ransomware. It is a form of extortion where any sensitive data under the software. It is not released until the ransom is paid to the attacker. It is advisable to keep the proper backups of the system. 
  5. Phishing. The target is contacted by email. The intruder falsifies his personality as an institution or any legitimate authority and gains access to sensitive data through the forged links. 


Attack Vectors include many attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service attack, Trojans, Session hijacking, etc. Companies need to keep their system up-to-date to ensure that there is no such attack on their computer system or information system. In this new era of data, it the only information that has got relevance, and losing over this can result in a great loss to the organizations. 

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give them an edge in this competitive world.



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