We’ve all heard about hackers, identity theft, and cybercrime, but what about a silent cyber attack that you know nothing about?
This is the power of a man-in-the-middle attack. It is a type of cyber attack that can be used to intercept and manipulate the data that is being sent between two parties.
By manipulating the data, the attacker can access the user’s private information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, and confidential data.
In this article, you will learn more about MiTM attacks and how to protect yourself from these insidious attacks.
What is MiTM Attack?
A man-in-the-middle attack (MiTM) is an attack that allows a hacker to intercept and modify communication secretly between two parties.
The attacker can eavesdrop on the communication and can even modify, delete, or inject data into the communication.
The attacker is essentially the “man in the middle” of the conversation.
This attack is possible due to the lack of encryption or authentication of the communication.
In a MiTM attack, the attacker will position themselves between the two communicating parties.
This allows the attacker to intercept any communication that is sent between the two parties, and they can also modify, delete, or inject data without either of the parties knowing.
The attacker can also use other techniques to deceive the two communicating parties.
For example, they can impersonate one of the parties and send malicious data to the other party to gain access to sensitive information.
A MiTM attack results in the two parties being unaware that their communication has been intercepted, modified, or deleted.
This can result in a loss of data, a breach of privacy, or even financial loss.
How Does The Man-In-The-Middle Attack Work?
In a MiTM attack, the attacker can gain access to the communication between the two parties by exploiting vulnerabilities in the network or system.
The attacker can then intercept and monitor the communication and modify or inject malicious code into the communication.
Once the attacker has control of the communication, they can steal sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, or other data.
They can also alter the communication to redirect traffic or launch other attacks on the network.
In order to carry out a MiTM attack, the attacker has to gain access to the network or system.
This is usually done through social engineering techniques, such as phishing or malware.
Once the attacker has gained access, they can intercept and monitor the communication.
Once the attacker has control of the communication, they can then use various techniques to steal information or launch other attacks.
For example, they can use a “packet sniffing” technique to monitor unencrypted traffic.
They can also use techniques such as DNS spoofing or ARP poisoning to redirect traffic or modify data in transit.
Different Types of Man-In-The-Middle Attacks
Cybercriminals use MiTM attacks in the following ways to access devices and sensitive information:
Internet Protocol Spoofing
Internet Protocol spoofing, also known as IP spoofing, is a type of Man-in-the-Middle attack in which an attacker alters the source IP address of a packet before sending it to its intended destination.
This is done by the attacker sending a forged IP packet with the same port number and IP address as the original, using the same protocol.
By doing this, the attacker can intercept, monitor, and modify the traffic sent between two hosts.
For example, a hacker may intercept traffic between two computers, A and B, by spoofing the IP address of computer A.
The hacker uses computer A’s IP address to send packets to computer B, while computer A sends packets to the hacker’s computer instead of computer B.
The hacker then modifies the packets before sending them to computer B, and vice versa, allowing the hacker to monitor and modify the data being sent between the two computers.
HTTP spoofing is a type of MiTM attack where attackers create fake HTTP servers to intercept and modify traffic between the user and the real web server.
The attacker intercepts traffic from a legitimate user and creates a malicious version of a website or web page that looks identical to the legitimate website or web page.
The attacker then sends the malicious version of the website or web page to the legitimate user’s computer to steal the user’s login credentials or other sensitive information.
DNS Spoofing is a Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attack in which an attacker exploits vulnerabilities in the Domain Name System (DNS).
In this attack, the attacker intercepts and modifies the response of the DNS server to redirect a user to a malicious website.
For example, an attacker could redirect a user from a legitimate website to a malicious website which could be used to capture sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers.
This type of Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attack involves an attacker intercepting emails sent between two parties. In an email hijacking attack, the attacker can read, modify, or even delete the emails before they reach their intended recipient.
For example, an attacker may gain access to a user’s email account and then intercept emails sent to or from the user. The attacker may also use this access to impersonate the user and send malicious emails to the user’s contacts.
SSL Hijacking is a Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attack in which an attacker intercepts and modifies encrypted traffic between two parties.
This is done by inserting a malicious proxy between the two parties and using a fake digital certificate to establish a secure connection.
The attacker then monitors, modifies, and records the data as it passes through the proxy.
For example, an attacker could use SSL Hijacking to intercept sensitive login credentials from a user attempting to log into an online banking website.
The attacker would insert a malicious proxy between the user and the website and use a fake digital certificate to establish a secure connection.
The attacker then monitors, modifies, and records the data as the user enters their login credentials.
This would allow the attacker to access the user’s account and perform fraudulent activities.
Session Hijacking is a Man-in-the-Middle (MiTM) attack that occurs when an attacker obtains control of a user’s session by stealing their session token.
This attack is often used to access restricted resources, such as an online banking account, by taking over the user’s session.
For example, an attacker wants to access a user’s online banking account. The attacker first uses an automated tool to scan vulnerable websites.
Once the attacker finds the target website, they use session hijacking to steal the user’s session token. With the stolen session token, the attacker can access the user’s account and gain access to their financial information.
How To Avoid Man-In-The-Middle Attacks
To protect yourself from a MiTM attack, it is essential to understand the different prevention methods and how to implement them.
Encryption is the first and best way to protect yourself from a MiTM attack. Encryption works by scrambling the data being sent between two users so that it is unintelligible to anyone else.
This means that even if someone is able to intercept the data, they will not be able to read it without the encryption key.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) are two popular encryption protocols widely used on the internet.
It is important to ensure that the websites you visit use these protocols to protect your data.
Another way to protect yourself from a MiTM attack is to use a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between two users, allowing them to communicate without an attacker being able to intercept their data.
This is especially helpful when using public Wi-Fi networks, as it can help to keep your data safe from attackers.
Finally, using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication whenever possible is important. A strong password should be at least 12 characters long and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring additional information, such as a code sent to your phone, to gain access.
These are just a few of the ways that you can protect yourself from a MiTM attack. By using encryption, a VPN, strong passwords, and multi-factor authentication, you can help to ensure that your data remains secure.