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Asymmetric Cyberattack

Asymmetric cyberattack definition

An asymmetric cyberattack is when a small group of attackers or an individual hacker uses technology to cause serious damage to a larger, more powerful organization. Even though the attackers have fewer resources, they can find and use weaknesses in the organization's defense systems. This allows them to create significant harm with less effort compared to the larger organization's ability to defend itself (making the attack “asymmetric.”) 

See also: Cyberattack

Asymmetric cyberattack examples 

  • Phishing
  • Ransomware
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS)
  • SQL injection
  • Zero-day exploits
  • Social engineering
  • Insider threats
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks

How are asymmetric attacks different from symmetric attacks?  

  • Asymmetric cyberattacks are when small, less-resourced attackers target big organizations by finding and exploiting weaknesses. 
  • Symmetric cyberattacks happen when the attacker and target have similar resources and abilities, making it a more even fight. Examples of symmetric attacks include corporate espionage, hacktivist groups, and military cyber operations. 

Preventing asymmetric cyberattacks 

  • Teach employees about phishing and scams.
  • Use strong passwords and two-step verification.
  • Keep software and systems updated.
  • Use firewalls and antivirus programs to block threats.
  • Back up data regularly to recover from attacks.
  • Watch network activity for anything unusual.
  • Limit who can access important data.
  • Have a plan in place to respond quickly to any attack.