Uncovering the Devastating Impact Of Mitm Attacks
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks are cyber eavesdropping methods that enable attackers to intercept and alter data as it travels between two parties, usually when communication protocols do not use encryption or authentication.
MITM attacks are security risks that require user awareness and education. Unfortunately, these techniques have been around for quite some time.
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What is a Man-In-the-Middle (MITM) attack in cybersecurity?
A Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack occurs when someone intercepts data or conversations between two parties and uses it for malicious purposes such as theft of information, alteration of said information, or impersonation of one party. MITM attacks are especially successful when security standards like encryption and authentication aren’t present.
MITM attacks can manifest at multiple layers in the network, including the transport layer (layer 4), application layer, and Internet Protocol (IP) layer. For instance, an attacker could spoof IP addresses and alter the packet structure of traffic between two servers.
Another MITM technique is address resolution protocol (ARP) spoofing, which involves altering the MAC addresses associated with server requests and redirecting them to an attacking server instead. This enables an attacker to intercept private communications between legitimate hosts and targets, potentially providing valuable information about their systems.
This type of attack is frequently employed to penetrate bank accounts and financial websites, leading to the theft of account numbers, login credentials, and other sensitive data. It also has been known to redirect users to fraudulent sites and collect credit card information.
To protect against MITM attacks, businesses should educate their employees on how to safeguard themselves and their information. They should also use encryption and VPNs when connecting to public networks and make sure all software updates are current.
Some MITM techniques include SSL stripping, which downgrades a secure HTTPS connection between a client and server to an insecure HTTP one. This can be accomplished by exploiting vulnerabilities in the SSL certificate used to encrypt communications between web browsers and servers.
Another commonly employed MITM technique is DNS spoofing, which involves altering a website’s domain name system (DNS) records to make it appear legitimate to users and enable theft of sensitive information and other malicious software.
Another example of an MITM attack is phishing scams, which involve emails that appear to come from legitimate organizations or websites. These emails usually contain links to a fake site designed to look like a popular destination that may collect usernames and passwords as well as credit card information.
Man-in-the-middle attacks (MITAs) are sophisticated cyberattacks that give criminals access to personal information belonging to another individual, enabling them to make fraudulent purchases or commit identity theft. Furthermore, this data could be utilized for disrupting business operations or stealing intellectual property.
A man-in-the-middle attacker often gains access to your bank account by intercepting your internet connection to a secure website. This technique, called SSL hijacking, involves creating fake SSL certificates for all domains you visit and then presenting them as valid ones to your browser so it can establish an authentic connection with the original site.
Typically, your browser will display a warning or refuse to open the page if an attack has been attempted. Unfortunately, without proper security measures in place, these attacks may go undetected for extended periods of time.
Cybercriminals seeking access to your online banking account must first identify a vulnerability in either software or hardware that allows them to intercept your connection. They can do this by discovering your computer’s IP address or taking advantage of weak password entries on secure websites.
An attacker can gain access to your banking account by hijacking your email account. They could then monitor account activities and steal sensitive data, as well as spoof the bank’s email address and send false instructions like wiring money into a new account.
Man-in-the-middle attackers may attempt to access your bank account through stolen cookies on your browser. These cookies contain sensitive information about your browser, such as login and payment card data.
Similar to malware, hackers can install an adware program that monitors your online activity and steals cookies from your browser. This gives them access to credit card and password details as well as other sensitive data.
Man-in-the-middle attacks are a serious threat to consumers and businesses alike, yet they can be difficult to detect without the appropriate tools. Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can protect yourself against this type of attack.
Man-in-the-middle attacks occur when an attacker listens in on private data exchanged between two parties and then alters or steals its content. This is a highly risky scenario since they could take sensitive information such as passwords, personal details, trade secrets, and intellectual property.
Cybercriminals utilize a range of techniques to become the man in the middle, such as spoofing IP addresses, DNS, SSL certificates, websites, and Wi-Fi networks. Once they have gained control over a target’s network, they can intercept data exchanges and use them for their own gain.
An attack can be either active or passive, meaning the user may not be aware that their data is being monitored and altered. In such cases, taking steps to protect yourself from a MitM attack, such as using a VPN and implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA), is important.
Emails can be vulnerable to MITM attacks due to their insecure format and multiple SMTP servers they pass through before reaching their intended recipient. This makes them a prime target for malicious actors looking to steal sensitive data like credit card numbers or bank account details.
To prevent email attack exploitation, users must educate themselves about security threats, avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots, and always exercise caution when clicking on suspicious emails. Organizations should provide proactive security awareness training to employees as well as ensure they have a reliable endpoint security solution in place.
Our MitM Cyber Attack Lab illustrates how an attacker can gain access to enterprise email systems by intercepting network traffic with malware. This malware aims to mimic a secure webpage and hijack the SSL protocol responsible for encrypting web traffic.
The next step involves altering the mapping between an IP address and a MAC address on the target’s network. This tactic, commonly referred to as ARP poisoning, is common in MITM attacks.
An attacker with access to a target’s MAC address can spoof other traffic and redirect it towards their own machine. This method allows them to collect large amounts of data without causing too much disruption on the target’s network.
Free Wi-Fi can be an accessible way to the internet, but it’s essential to be aware of the risks that come with connecting to public networks. Hackers could potentially take advantage of free hotspots in airports, coffee shops, and restaurants by intercepting data and stealing login credentials.
Many free Wi-Fi hotspots are insecure and lack authentication, leaving hackers with the opportunity to steal information from those who connect. A Malicious software attack (MitM) can hijack an individual’s entire connection to the internet and intercept data as it travels from their computer to whatever service or website they desire.
Another commonly used MITM technique is IP spoofing, in which an attacker pretends to have a different IP address than what you are connected to. This enables them to intercept your data and send it off to their own server or website.
An attacker may create their own “evil twin” hotspot that looks like a legitimate Wi-Fi network but is controlled by hackers. This makes it easier for them to monitor all your online activity, including credit card and username/password information.
Finally, hackers can utilize fake cell phone towers to collect a vast array of personal information from unaware users. These devices are typically sold on the dark web and can quickly accumulate large amounts of data.
A passive man-in-the-middle attack occurs when an attacker sets up a rogue Wi-Fi hotspot that is named to correspond to your location. This ensures that those in your vicinity automatically connect to it and grant it full visibility over all their online data exchange.
These rogue hotspots are particularly risky because they lack authentication or passwords and can be easily discovered by those in your vicinity. Many of these hotspots use names similar to legitimate public Wi-Fi networks, meaning you could unwittingly grant hackers access to your personal information without even realizing it.
In most cases, you can protect yourself from a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack by setting your device to “save” the name of a hotspot as it searches for one, which will prevent it from connecting automatically to any malicious ones nearby. If unsure what a hotspot’s name is, ask an employee at the location for confirmation before logging on.
Please share this post with your friends, family, or business associates who may encounter cybersecurity attacks.