Attack signature definition
An attack signature is a specific characteristic associated with a known type of cyber attack or malicious activity. Essentially, it’s a set of rules used to detect and identify a common attack or exploit. Attack signatures are commonly employed in intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDS/IPS), antivirus software, and other cybersecurity tools and systems. They are created by analyzing the behavior, code, or characteristics of previous attacks, malware samples, or malicious activities.
Attack signatures aren’t always effective against newly emerging or sophisticated attacks that haven’t been previously identified. That’s why security systems often incorporate additional techniques such as anomaly detection, behavioral analysis, machine learning, or threat intelligence to detect and respond to unknown or evolving threats.
See also: intrusion detection system
Examples of attack signatures
Attack signatures vary depending on the specific malicious activity. Here are a few examples:
- Malware signature. Malware signatures are patterns of code that identify specific strains of malicious software.
- Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack signature. These signatures include patterns in network traffic or certain characteristics of packet headers that indicate a denial-of-service attack is in progress.
- SQL injection signature. These are suspicious SQL commands or specific keywords commonly used in SQL injection attacks.
- Phishing. Phishing attack signatures focus on identifying email content, URLs, or attachments that exhibit known phishing characteristics.
- Brute force attack signature. These signatures can identify patterns of repeated login attempts or excessive failed authentication requests.