Home > Articles > Certification > Other IT

This chapter is from the book

Common Attack Strategies

Attackers targeting a network can leverage combinations of the various security risks and threats to enact their nefarious plans for vulnerable computers. The least sophisticated attacks might corrupt or delete data, potentially requiring a complete reformatting and reload for infected computers. More sophisticated attacks can produce even less desirable results, including placing illegal content on targeted computers, exposing protected data, or even utilizing the compromised computers to levy attacks against secondary targets.

Social Engineering

Many hackers make use of the practice of social engineering, which is a psychological scam intended to get users to reveal information or to provide details useful for a successful network attack. Email-borne viruses employ this technique by presenting an innocuously named viral attachment with a From email address matching that of a known associate. Spyware and other security risks can provide attackers with information that can be used to improve social-engineering efforts, such as by allowing a phishing attack to mimic a site the user is known to frequent.

Bots and Botnets

Botnet is a term used by the FBI to describe a group of compromised hosts controlled by a remote attacker, as illustrated in Figure 2-2. Communicating with their creator through Internet Relay Chat (IRC) or other anonymous methods of communication, compromised computers can reside quietly for a lengthy time until given a command to attack a chosen target. These networks can also be used to crack encryption keys and other CPU-demanding tasks, distributing a huge task among tens of thousands of personal computers located around the globe.

Figure 2.2

Figure 2-2 An idealized example of an IRC-controlled botnet.

Sometimes referred to as zombies compromised computers (bots) are often traded as coin of the realm among hackers seeking access within a particular network. Large botnets are status symbols among some groups, where their originators might fight silent wars against one another using corporate, educational, personal, and even governmental hosts as their playing pieces. Compromised bots in secure networks, such as .gov and .mil sites, can often be traded for thousands of compromised .edu and .com hosts, all traded by the controlling hacker to purchase status, bragging rights, or access to target networks. These transactions occur while the true owners remain unaware that the compromised computers are being bought, sold, and used as a weapon against other networks.

Beyond their value as currency among the various hacker communities, botnets are commonly used in various malicious ways:

  • Distributed–Denial-of-Service attacks—The most common use of botnets is the massed coordinated attack against a target site or address to saturate the target’s bandwidth or capability to respond to legitimate connections. These attacks have been levied against high-profile sites through the use of thousands of compromised bots scattered around the world. The distributed nature of these attacks makes it more difficult for the target to filter out only the undesirable traffic.

  • Remote control—Bots provide their controller some measure of control over the compromised computer, allowing the introduction of malicious programs, back doors, spyware, or any of the other security risks previously discussed.

  • File sharing—Botnets are sometimes used to host contraband files, cracked software titles, audio files, and even entire DVDs that have been ripped and stored on compromised computers with high-bandwidth broadband connections. By replacing valid services on compromised hosts, these bot programs can be configured to serve as HTTP or FTP servers that might appear valid to a cursory audit of the network.

Compromised computers in highly secure or limited-access areas are highly valued by controllers of these botnets, along with computers with high levels of connectivity and large storage capacity. Because of this, commercial targets are commonly identified for attack to compromise servers and other well-connected computers. Educational sites are also commonly targeted because they are generally comprised of large numbers of relatively new computers installed in default configurations, connected to wide-bandwidth Internet backbones, and supported by limited numbers of staff that take publicly posted holidays.

Root Kits

Extending the qualities of a Trojan horse or a back door, root kits replace or modify elements of the operating system to provide an attacker greater control over compromised hosts. These programs can replace or modify the system kernel, system binaries, or other elements of the host’s operating system, often allowing an attacker’s later efforts to pass unnoticed, provided with stealth and cover by the modified system binaries.

Implementations of root kits can replace common user interface functions, allowing an attacker to conceal their implanted services from the Task Manager or to hide files from the explorer interface when a user attempts to check for unexpected files that might reveal the compromise. Root kits can be used to implant a known master password or other mechanism for bypassing the normal protections of the host computer.

Root kits provide the greatest level of control over a compromised host because they target directly the basis for all other applications running on a computer. Attackers who can successfully deploy a root kit can be considered to "own" the compromised computer at a functional level to such an extent that only a full reformat-and-reload can be certain to remove the damage done. Protection strategies are vital to protect against this level of compromise, where backup and recovery strategies might provide the only path back to a functional network environment.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020