A. Saravanan1*, S. Sathya Bama2

1*Department of MCA, Sree Saraswathi Thyagaraja College, Pollachi, India

2483, Lawley Road, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Corresponding Author E-mail: [email protected]

Article Publishing History
Article Received on : 30 Jan 2019
Article Accepted on : 24 May 2019
Article Published : 31 May 2019

DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.13005/ojcst12.02.04


Cyber attacks have become quite common in this internet era. The cybercrimes are getting increased every year and the intensity of damage is also increasing. providing security against cyber-attacks becomes the most significant in this digital world. However, ensuring cyber security is an extremely intricate task as requires domain knowledge about the attacks and capability of analysing the possibility of threats. The main challenge of cybersecurity is the evolving nature of the attacks. This paper presents the significance of cyber security along with the various risks that are in the current digital era. The analysis made for cyber-attacks and their statistics shows the intensity of the attacks. Various cybersecurity threats are presented along with the machine learning algorithms that can be applied to cyber attacks detection. The need for the fifth generation cybersecurity architecture is discussed.


Cyberattacks; Cybersecurity; Fifth Generation; Machine Learning Algorithm; Security Threats

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Saravanan A, Bama S. S. A Review on Cyber Security and the Fifth Generation Cyberattacks. Orient. J. Comp. Sci. and Technol; 12(2).

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Saravanan A, Bama S. S. A Review on Cyber Security and the Fifth Generation Cyberattacks. Orient. J. Comp. Sci. and Technol; 12(2). Available from: https://bit.ly/2MhmE8s


Due to the increasing trust and usage of the Internet, almost all the industries, government and even financial institutions has transformed their transactions to the cyber infrastructure. This makes the cyber system more vulnerable to cyberattacks. A cyberattack is a malicious attempt made by an individual or organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization. Most commonly, cyberattacks target the business organization, military, government, or other financial institutions such as banking either for hacking secured information or for a ransom.

The volume and knowledge of the technology in a cyber attack are increasing drastically. This becomes an important threat to the cyber world. According to Trustwave’s 2015 Global Security Report, approximately, 98% of tested web applications were found vulnerable to cyber-attack. Based on the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ 2015 security survey 90% of the huge organization and 74% of the small organization agonized from security breaches.1 Thus the term cybersecurity has become the most prominent field under research. Cybersecurity ensures preserving confidentiality, integrity and availability of information in the Cyberspace.2 Though cybersecurity is a single term, to guarantee the security it involves the coordination of the various other domains. This relationship between various domain is depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Cyber Security and various domains

Click here to View figure

These domains are simply described below.

Application security implementing various measures to improve the security of an application. This is often done by monitoring the application and finding, fixing and preventing security vulnerabilities.

Information Security is a set of procedures or practices to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of business data and information in various forms.

Network security is a process designed to shield the usability and integrity of the network and its data and provide secured access towards the network. Network security always includes both hardware and software technologies.

Operations security is a process of identifying and protecting unclassified critical information which are often attractive for the competitor or adversary to gain real information.

Internet security involves various security processes implemented for ensuring the security of online transactions. It involves protecting browsers, network, operating systems, and other applications from attacks by setting up precise rules and regulations.

ICT security is the ability to protect the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of an organization’s digital information assets.

End-User Knowledgeis most significant since people are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. The lack of user knowledge about cybersecurity risks is the reason for 50% of the cyberattack and almost 90% of cyberattacks are caused by human behaviour.

However, the attacks made by the cyber criminals are getting smarter and they use new methods and technology for successful attacks. They often find the security holes and breaches in the secured system and steal information or damage the system in less time.3 In this digital era, since people do all the major day to day activities online, there is an urgent need for the improved cyber security with new techniques. To neutralize the cyberattacks, equal growth in the cyber security as attacks is required. Though several new techniques are suggested by various researchers and many techniques are currently in use, the effect of an attack is still increasing.4 Cybersecurity has to protect any private, personal or government data from attacks by focusing on three main tasks.5

  1. Taking measures to protect equipment, software and the information they contain.
  2. Guaranteeing the state or quality of being protected from the several threats; and
  3. Implementing and improving these activities.

In recent years, many non-profit organizations and projects have been carried out with the aim of facing security threats. The most popular organization is Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), an international non-for-profit charitable organization that focuses on the application security.6 Every year they identify and release the series of software vulnerabilities and describe the ten most important in their top ten project. In the year of 2018, the top ten vulnerabilities listed by the OWASP are injection, broken authentication and session management, sensitive data exposure, XML External Entities (XXE), Broken Access control, Security misconfigurations, Cross Site Scripting (XSS), Insecure Deserialization, Using Components with known vulnerabilities, Insufficient logging and monitoring.7

The cyber-attacks have emerged to the fifth generation, though, 97%. Of organizations are using outdated security technologies and equipped for second and third generation attacks.8 The cybersecurity generations are elaborated in Figure 2.

Cyber Attack Statistics

The number of unique cyber incidents in the second quarter of 2018, as defined by Positive Technologies, was 47 per cent higher than the number from just a year previous. In the third quarter of 2018, Kaspersky Labs the number of malicious mobile installation packages was up by nearly a third when compared to just the previous few months. But there’s an easy way to avoid those attacks, as Norton says that 99.9 per cent of those packages come from unofficial “third party” app stores. The major cyber attacks for the year 2017 is represented as a timeline.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Cyber Attack Generation

Click here to View figure

According to the report given by Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper – www.ajc.com, $2.7 million spent by the City of Atlanta to repair damage from a ransomware attack. A report was given by 2018 IT Professionals Security Report Survey says that 76% of organizations experienced a phishing attack in the past year and 49% of organizations experienced a DDoS attack in the past year. The ‘Adult Swine’ malware was installed up to 7 million times across 60 Children’s Games Apps. Over 20% of organizations are impacted by Cryptojacking Malware every week and 40% of organizations were impacted by Cryptominers in 2018. (Check Point Research Blog).

Over 300 apps in the google play store contained malware and were downloaded by over 106 million users.9 614 GB of data related to weapons, sensor and communication systems stolen from US Navy contractor, allegedly by Chinese government hackers. Check Point global attack sensors undergone a survey on the new vulnerabilities introduced in the past 8 years The values are depicted in Figure 3.10

Figure 3

Figure 3: Percentage of attacks that leveraged a new vulnerability

Click here to View figure

Cyber Security Threats

The common goal of the cyber attacks is to disable or to gain access to the target system. The goal can be achieved by applying various attacks on the target system. Several cyberattacks exist and even evolve day by day. Some of the common cyber attacks are explained below:

Malware: Malware is a malicious software that is designed to cause destruction to a single system or a network. Basic malevolent software such as worms, viruses, and trojans and recent malicious software such as spyware, ransomware belongs to this category. The malware infects the system or network when a user clicks a dangerous link, through an email attachment or while installing risky software. The main point to be noted is that the malware reproduces or spreads when it interacts with other system or device. Some of the causes include blocking access to the network, installs additional spiteful software, gathers information.

Phishing: Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source, usually through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is an increasingly common cyber threat.

Man-in-the-middle attack: Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks occur when attackers insert themselves into a two-party transaction. Once the attackers interrupt the traffic, they can filter and steal data. It is normally known as eavesdropping attacks. Several variations of the MITM attack exists that includes password stealing, credential forwarding etc. Normally on an unsecure public Wi-Fi, attackers can insert themselves between a visitor’s device and the network. Without knowing, the visitor passes all information through the attacker. In some cases, the attacker installs some software to gather the information about the victim through malware.

Cryptojacking : A specialized attack that involves getting someone else’s computer to do the work of generating cryptocurrency for the target. The attackers will either install malware on the victim’s computer to perform the necessary calculations, or sometimes run the code in JavaScript that executes in the victim’s browser.

Denial-of-service attack: A denial-of-service attack floods systems, servers, or networks with traffic to exhaust resources and bandwidth. As a result, the system is unable to process the legitimate requests. Attackers can also use multiple compromised devices to launch this attack. Instead of launching single attacks, the attacker launches several attacks to the victim. This is known as a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. 24% of companies have experienced a DDoS attack in the past year11

SQL Injection: A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection is a quite common attack that occurs when an attacker inserts malicious code into a server that uses SQL and forces the server to reveal information it normally would not. An attacker could carry out a SQL injection simply by submitting malicious code into a vulnerable website search box.

Zero-day exploit: A zero-day exploit hits after a network vulnerability is announced but before a patch or solution is implemented. Attackers target the disclosed vulnerability during this window of time. Zero-day vulnerability threat detection requires constant awareness.

Spam: it an e-mail message that is unwanted.12 Spam e-mails can be not only a time-consuming task for recipients but a source of Java applets that may execute automatically when the message is read.13

Apart from the above mentioned threats, SANS Institute identifies the following malicious spyware actions as the most frequent, malicious activities14:

changing network settings,

disabling antivirus and antispyware tools,

turning off the Microsoft Security Center and/or automatic updates,

installing rogue certificates,

cascading file droppers,

keystroke logging,

URL monitoring, form scraping and screen scraping,

turning on the microphone and/or camera,

pretending to be an antispyware or antivirus tool,

editing search results,

acting as a spam relay,

planting a rootkit or altering the system to prevent removal,

installing a bot for attacker remote control,

intercepting sensitive documents and exfiltrating them, or encrypting them for ransom, planting a sniffer.

Some of the fifth generation cyber-attacks includes Andromeda, AdvisorsBot, Cerber, CNRig, Cryptoloot, Fireball, HiddenMiner, Iotroop, Nivdort, NotPetya, RubyMiner, Trickbot, WannaCry, WannaMine, Ransomeware, adultSwine, and cryptocurrency attacks. These are sophisticated attacks that cause severe damage.

Machine Learning and Cybersecurity

Numerous methods and procedures have been developed in the literature for the detection of threats in the cyberspace. Recently machine learning has contributed much in the cyber security. In case of spam detection, basically filters are used to analyse the content to differentiate whether the message is spam or not. The machine learning algorithms such as Bayesian classifier,15 SVM,16 MapReduce,17 Behaviour-based spam detection using neural networks,18 Text detection method for image spam filtering19 were suggested.

Statistical analysis based malware detection was introduced in.20 Marlware detection using machine learning was suggested.21 Statistical and dynamical based malware detection was suggested by Shijo and Salim.22 detecting of internet worm malcodes using principal component analysis and multiclass support vector machine was introduced.23 For detecting phishing email, random forest machine learning technique was employed.24 Several supervised learning algorithms were introduced to detect the phishing sites.25 Thus clustering algorithm and classification algorithms such as SVM, Random Forest, Na?ve Bayes classifier, neural network, fuzzy based classifier is commonly used in detecting the security threats that includes spam detection, malware detection and phishing detection.

Moving to Fifth Generation Cyber Security Architecture

The rapid digital transformation of business places increasing demands on security. Current security architectures to manage all this are outdated and are the most common cause for unavailability and security issues that lead to failure. Thus there is a need for implementing fifth generation architecture that includes cloud infrastructure and Internet of Things, though, businesses can eliminate single points of failure by providing the necessary strength and resiliency to maintain operations and security under any circumstances.

This security architecture must build a consolidated, unified security architecture that manages and integrates with mobile, cloud and networks to protect against and prevent fifth generation cyberattacks. Integrated threat prevention also needs to work with a dynamic security policy across all platforms that expresses business needs, supports cloud demands with auto scaling and is able to flexibly integrate with third-party APIs. Furthermore, a unified and advanced multi-layered threat prevention environment must include CPU-Level sandbox prevention, threat extraction, anti-phishing and anti-ransomware solutions to defend against known and unknown ‘zero-day’ attacks. In this way, having the right architecture upon which the entire security infrastructure operates is the only way to ensure a single, cohesive wall of protection to prevent fifth generation cyberattacks.26


In the past 20 years, cyberattacks and the cybersecurity have advanced and evolved rapidly due to the technological advancement. Though this is the case, unfortunately, most organizations have not evolved and are still using second or third generation cyber security even after the evolution of the fifth generation of These fifth generation attacks are named as mega attacks as it large-scale and fast-moving attacks. These sophisticated attacks can effortlessly bypass the conventional, static detection-based security systems that are used by the most of the today’s organizations. Thus to defend the latest attacks, organizations should implement the fifth generation security architecture to protect their network infrastructure, cloud and mobile infrastructure. Thus to conclude, the awareness among the organizations and individuals about the cyberattacks and their effect along with the security solutions are to be increased. Everyone should use the technology only after analysing the pros and cons and the security breaches and care must be taken to secure their information. The future work aims at proposing the fifth generation security framework to protect the online digital infrastructure that includes cloud, mobile and network infrastructure.


This research has not received any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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