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An attack vector is defined as the technique by means of which unauthorized access can be gained to a device or a network by hackers for nefarious purposes. In other words, it is used for assaulting or exploiting a network, computer or device. Attack vectors help unauthorized elements to exploit the vulnerabilities in the system or network, including the human elements.
Examples of attack vectors are email attachments, pop-up windows, deception, chat rooms, viruses and instant messages. In most cases, programming is heavily involved and it is rare to see hardware means involved in an attack vector. Human ignorance or weaknesses are also put to use for engineering attack vectors. For example, in a case of deception, users are fooled into weakening the system or network defenses. Anti-virus software and firewalls could provide some defense or block attack vectors to some extent. However, a completely attack-proof technique is currently unavailable, as hackers are constantly upgrading and updating their attack vectors.
Some of the mitigation techniques used against attack vectors are based on controls at multiple layers and defense in depth. Some of the measures include packet classification & marking, IP source trackers, traffic policing, TCP intercept, policy-based routing, firewalls, TCP intercept, network-based application recognition, committed access rate and layer-3 switches.