What is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack?
Attacks using the Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) technique are a popular type of cybercrime in which hackers eavesdrop on an active communication channel between two users. As the name implies, the attackers set up shop in a strategic location to intercept communications and steal vital information from the target.
- The most frequent method of implementing MITM attacks is to trick two victims into believing they are speaking with each other while the attackers intercept and store all of their communications.
- Man-in-the-middle attacks are carried out by hackers using techniques such as sniffer and session hijacking.
- DNS spoofing and ARP spoofing are the two most frequent types of man-in-the-middle
How a Man-in-the-Middle Attack Works
An attacker’s most typical approach of performing a man-in-the-middle assault is to trick each target into believing that they are speaking with each other through deception. In reality, they are providing the attacker with information about themselves.
To use an analogy, Mary and Paul are the intended recipients, and Eve is the assailant. Eve wishes to intercept the message without being caught, and as a result, she will convince Mary that she is Paul and fool Paul into believing that she is Mary to do this. The man-in-the-middle attack is characterized by the fact that both targets will divulge their information without being aware of it.
Methods Used to Execute Man-in-the-Middle Attacks.
Man-in-the-middle attacks are carried out in a variety of ways, the most common of which are as follows:
There are a plethora of data packet capture tools available, which allow attackers to examine data traffic. The devices are equipped with monitoring capabilities that enable cyber adversaries to detect disguised packets, such as data traffic destined to a certain host, on their networks. If an attacker can sniff the packets, he or she can eavesdrop on the conversation and take vital information.
- Session Hijacking
In session hijacking, a hacker takes control of an active web session and redirects it to his or her server. Example: When you log into a web application, the login mechanism generates a random temporary session token that can be utilized in subsequent logins instead of asking you to provide your credentials each time.
Sniffing methods can be used by cybercriminals to discover which communication contains sensitive information and to identify the user’s session token, among other things. The attacker can then send queries to the web server pretending to be the genuine user, and the webserver will react as if it were responding to the legitimate user.
- SSL Stripping
HTTPS protects consumers from assaults such as DNS spoofing and ARP attacks, which are quite common nowadays. As a result, cyber adversaries employ SSL stripping techniques to scan and intercept data packets in a computer network. The attackers then change the HTTPS address requests and redirect them to a functionally similar HTTP endpoint. Due to this method, the user is forced to request a server that is not encrypted, allowing hackers to read the requests and responses in plain text.
- Packet Injection
Attackers can employ data packet capturing tools to inject destructive data packets into a network communication stream while the tools are running in the background and monitoring the network. Attackers conceal harmful packets within genuine data to make them appear secure to the user. Before injecting the destructive packets, the hackers must first sniff the required packets and determine which ones are hazardous.
Common Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
- DNS Spoofing
Attacks using DNS spoofing involve a hostile cyber actor introducing corrupted DNS cache data to a target host through the use of a malicious web browser. Using the trusted domain name, the altered DNS cache information attempts to communicate with another host using the altered DNS cache information.
Consequently, the victim submits important information to the attacker without realizing that it is being sent directly to the attacker. Although the victims share confidential information with a reputable domain, the information does not reach the intended target.
- ARP Spoofing
ARP stands for Address Resolution Protocol, which is an abbreviation for this protocol. Its primary function is to translate IP addresses into physical MAC addresses for transmission across a network. When a host requests to interact with another host that has a given IP address, the request refers to the ARP cache, which relays the IP address as a MAC address to the other computer.
Attackers are now able to respond to host requests by using their MAC addresses. The initial step is to send several packets specifically to sniff an active communication between two hosts. To acquire access to valuable information such as session token exchanges, the attackers resort to ARP spoofing assaults on the target network.
How To Detect a Man-in-the-Middle Attack
One of the most effective means of detecting a man-in-the-middle assault is to put in place tamper detection devices on your networks. When the system detects strange network behavior or patterns, it quickly notifies the network administrator.
A proactive scan of your network is also required to detect whether there are any symptoms of data or communication interceptions. With no active scanning, it is possible that you will not be able to detect a man-in-the-middle assault until it is too late.
Best Practices for Protecting Yourself Against Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
- Robust Wi-Fi Encryption
Unauthorized users can’t connect to your network if you utilize robust WAP/WEP encryption on your Wi-Fi access points, which is an effective control. Attackers can use wireless access points that do not have robust encryption techniques to launch brute-force attacks, acquire illegal access, and prolong a man-in-the-middle attack.
The use of a VPN (a virtual private network) allows users to send critical information over an unsecure network by creating a secure network for them. VPNs are designed to use key-based encryption, which means that both hosts must exchange the correct pair of keys to gain access to shared information over the internet. It prevents your message from being accessed or intercepted by an unauthorized party.
- Health Router Login Credentials
Changing the default router login credentials is always a good idea, because the default credentials are easy to guess. It is also necessary to develop secure credentials that cannot be readily hacked to protect yourself. Attackers target routers with insecure credentials to redirect the victim’s DNS requests to a malicious server on the attacker’s network. Perhaps they will install a malicious program on the router that will direct all communication to a remote server.