Cybersecurity | Man in the Middle (MITM) Attack
There are many types of security threats that attackers can use to access unsafe applications. While intimidators can carry out some of these attacks using automated software, others require a more active role than attackers. In this tutorial, we will explain the basic concepts behind a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, and provide examples and mitigation strategies.
I turned on the computer, entered the browser, typed the website address, and pressed Enter. Browsing is actually so straightforward - of course from the front! However, it is not a mystery how everything in the world moves to the screen of our computer in the blink of an eye, but its scope is much broader. However, in the midst of this prevalence, one thing that almost everyone knows is that hackers attack this backend. So today we’ll look at how this attack happens in a discussion of man-in-the-middle attacks.
What is a man-in-the-middle attack?
A MITM attack is a type of cyber-attack where a user is introduced to some kind of meeting between two parties by a malicious person, manipulates both parties and gains access to the data that the two people try to supply each other. A man-in-the-middle attack also helps a malicious attacker, not recognizing any type of participant until it's too late, to hack and send data transmission to someone else. MITM attacks may be referred to in certain cases, such as MITM, MITM, MIM, or MIM.
If an attacker places himself between a client and a webpage, a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack occurs. This form of attack comes in a variety of ways.
For example, to block financial login credentials, a fraudulent banking website may be used. Between the user and the real bank webpage, the fake site is "in the middle."
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Who are the targets of man-in-the-middle attacks?
Anyone can be attacked at any time. The device from which the computer or mobile phone is using the Internet is not considered, if the connection is insecure, especially when using free WiFi, you are more likely to have a moderate attack.
After entering a website, if you see that https: // is not written in green at the beginning of the name lock, then leave the site quickly.
How does the MitM attack work?
During MITM attacks, cybercriminals put themselves in the middle of data transactions or online communication. By distributing malware, the attacker gains easy access to the user's web browser and the data it sends and receives during transactions. Online banking and e-commerce sites, which require secure authentication with a public key and a private key, are the main targets of MiTM attacks because they enable attackers to capture login credentials and other confidential information.
Typically, these attacks are managed through a two-step process known as data interception and decryption. Data interception prevents an attacker from transferring data between a client and a server. The attacker tricks the client and the server into believing that they are exchanging information with each other, while the attacker intercepts the data, creates a connection to the original site, and acts as a proxy to read and insert false information into the communication.
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The following steps involve a common data barrier strategy:
1. An attacker installs a packet sniffer on any network traffic that may be unsafe, such as a user accessing a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) -based website or using an unsecured public hotspot.
2. Once a user logs in to an insecure website, the attacker retrieves user information and redirects them to a fake website.
3. The duplicate website mimics the original website and collects data from all relevant users, which the attacker can then use to access all useful resources on the original website.
The decryption phase is where the pasted data is not encrypted. This vital step enables the attacker to finally decipher and use the data to their advantage; For example, they may steal identities or disrupt business activities.
What are the types of man-in-the-middle attacks?
To gain access to devices and sensitive information, cybercriminals use the following methods to manage MiTM attacks:
Internet protocol spoofing. Like identity theft, IP spoofing occurs when cyber criminals change the source IP address of a website, email address, or device for the purpose of masking it. It deceives users into believing that they are communicating with a legitimate source and that the sensitive information they share during the transaction is transferred to cyber criminals instead.
Spoofing the domain name system. It is a type of man-in-the-middle attack where cyber criminals change domain names to redirect traffic to fake websites. Users may think they have reached a secure and trusted website, but instead, they land on a website run by cybercriminals. The main goal behind DNS spoofing is to divert traffic to a fake website or capture user login credentials.
HTTP spoofing. The HTTP protocol is the epitome of secure Internet communication. HTTPS indicates a secure and trusted website. During an HTTPS spoofing attack, a browser session is redirected to an insecure or HTTP-based website without the user's knowledge or consent. Cybercriminals can monitor user interactions and steal shared personal information through these redirects.
Secure socket layer hijacking. SSL is a protocol that establishes an encrypted connection between a browser and a web server. During SSL hijacking, a cyber criminal may use another computer and a secure server to intercept all the information that travels between the server and the end user's computer.
Email hijacking. It is a type of MiTM attack where cyber criminals gain control of the email accounts of banks and other financial institutions to monitor users' transactions. Cybercriminals can even evade bank email addresses and send instructions to customers that inadvertently lead them to transfer their money to cybercriminals.
Wi-Fi eavesdropping. This MiTM attack is one of the many risk factors raised by public Wi-Fi. During this attack, public Wi-Fi users were tricked into connecting to malicious Wi-Fi networks and hotspots. Cybercriminals accomplish this by establishing Wi-Fi connections with names that are similar to nearby businesses.
Session Hijacking. Also known as browser cookies theft, this malicious practice occurs when cybercriminals steal personal data and passwords stored inside a user's browsing session cookies. Sometimes, cybercriminals can gain endless access to users' protected resources. For example, they could steal users' confidential information and identities, purchase items, or steal money from their bank accounts.
Cache poisoning. Also known as the Address Resolution Protocol, or ARP Cache Poisoning, this popular modern-day MiTM attack enables cybercriminals to hide all traffic between those who are on the same subnet as the victim.
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How to prevent man-in-the-middle attack
Mitigation is the best defense against MiTM attacks. Here are some ways to prevent these attacks:
This is the first line of defense against the MITM attack. Users should only see websites that show "HTTPS" in the URL bar instead of "HTTP" Most browsers display a padlock symbol before the URL, pointing to a secure website. In addition to ensuring website security, it is also important to avoid using unsafe public Wi-Fi connections, as they are vulnerable to attacks and interference by cybercriminals. Companies should implement multifactor authentication across the board, as it adds an extra layer of security to online communications.
Avoid phishing emails.
Cybercriminals deliberately create phishing emails to deceive users into opening them. Users need to think twice before opening emails from unsolicited or unknown sources. Phishing emails often seem to come from a legitimate source, such as a bank account or a financial institution. These emails may prompt users to enter their login credentials or click a link to update their
Clicking on these links should be avoided, as they may redirect a user to a fake website or download malicious software to their device.
Virtual Private Network Encryption.
A VPN should be used when connecting to Internet connections and online data transfers, such as passwords and credit card information, and when connecting to insecure public Wi-Fi networks and hotspots. A VPN can attack a potential man-in-the-middle attack. Even if a cyber criminal manages to access a network, they will not be able to read messages or access resources due to the encryption provided by the VPN. Companies should ensure that their employees are logging into the company through a secure corporate VPN, especially if they work remotely.
Extensive endpoint security is most important when trying to prevent the spread of malware and other cyber attacks. Since MiTM uses malware to carry out attacks, it is important to have antimalware and Internet security products.
Most cyber-attacks are started by unknowingly human behavior. By educating users about the dangers of MiTM attacks and implementing mandatory active security awareness training for employees, organizations can protect their sensitive data in advance. The training should teach users how to detect malicious emails and enlighten them about the best practices for security, such as implementing a VPN, avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, and not clicking on suspicious email links.
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Examples of man-in-the-middle attacks
Although the history of MiTM attacks dates back to pre-Internet times, they have gained the most traction and limelight in recent years. The following are some popular real-world examples of man-in-the-middle attacks:
Equifax's mobile application.
Equifax, one of the largest credit reporting agencies, suffered a massive data breach in 2017 that leaked financial information to nearly 150 million people in the United States. In addition to this breach, it was discovered that the company's mobile phone apps do not always use HTTPS. Simultaneously Equifax enables users to intercept data.
In 2015, Lenovo computers were shipped with pre-installed adware that made users vulnerable to MiTM attacks. This software, known as Superfish Visual Search, inserts ads into the user's encrypted web traffic. An updated release of Microsoft Windows Defender in February 2015 removed this vulnerability.
DigiNotar, a Dutch issuer of digital security certificates, was breached in 2011 when a threatening actor gained access to 500 certificates for prominent websites such as Google and Skype. The threat actor uses a MiTM attack tactic to persuade users to enter passwords on fake websites and pretend to be real. DigiNotar has finally filed for bankruptcy to recover from the loss of this data breach.
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