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Scarier than Halloween: Cybersecurity attacks

Hacker downloading information off a computerTake a walk outside tonight and there’s a good chance you’ll find ghouls, goblins, vampires and maybe even zombies roaming the streets.

Hey, it’s Halloween. These things happen.

But potentially more frightening are threats inside your computer.  As October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it’s a great time to talk about the types of threats and tips to help prevent attacks.  

One type of threat is a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack, intended to make online services unavailable to users. These attackers, often political or social activists, sometimes target banks and credit card companies to extort money.  This may cause you to temporarily lose access to email, websites, online accounts and other internet services.

The most popular type of DoS attack is “Flood,” an attack which causes so much traffic to a specific computer or network that it can’t respond to legitimate traffic. Flood attacks are easy for attackers to start, difficult to stop and can cause major problems.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) is similar to DoS except  it involves multiple attacking computers. The most common is Botnet-based, which involves multiple computers acting under common command-and-control to function together as a network of computers. When the attacked system is overloaded with connections, the computers can no longer accept new connections and, in turn, can completely shut down.

While there are no ways to prevent a DoS attacks, there are ways to help reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim.

Some things you can do are: install and maintain anti-virus software, install a firewall and set restrictions on incoming and outgoing traffic, and follow good security measures when distributing your email address. DoS and DDoS are illegal in many countries, but attacks are usually controlled from countries that have no laws against it. This makes tracking down and prosecuting attackers very difficult.

If you are under attack, the first thing to do is to contact your network administrator or Internet Service Provider (ISP). Provide as much information as possible.

  • Try to identify the start, end and patterns of the attack.
  • Share any insights you may have about the attack. Did you receive any threatening messages during the attack?
  • Describe unique traffic characteristics. Is the attack targeting a particular computer or an entire network?
  • Identify any changes you observe over the time period of the attack.
  • Explain the impact of the attack.  Are your services or performance moderately affected or has it been completely disrupted?

Susquehanna Bank is  aware of these types of attacks and strives to reduce the risk to its customers. Protecting your personal computer and mobile devices are the first steps you can take as a customer/employee to help prevent the risk of an attack.


This blog was written by Melissa, an information security analyst at Susquehanna Bank.

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Posted in Financial Education, Financial Security.

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