A man-in-the-middle (MITM) is a general term for the hacker himself in a conversation between the user and an application — either just being a snooper or impersonating as the user himself or the application, making it appear as a normal conversation is happening. Neither the victim or the application realizes that the attacker is a part of the conversation. The goal is to steal the user’s login credentials, account details or card numbers.
Cybercriminals typically execute the attack in two forms — one involves physical proximity to the user, and another involves malware and is also called a man-in-the-browser attack. There are usually two steps to be carried out in this attack — interception and decryption. Interception happens when an attacker finds an unsecured or an open WiFi and deploys tools to intercept and read the user’s data. He is then able to capture the login credentials and other confidential information. Thereafter, decryption happens where the encrypted data of the user is unencrypted, so that the attacker can read and act upon it.
Man-in-the-browser attack is quite similar to a Phishing attack. Here the attacker finds a way to inject malicious software or malware into the user’s device. The malware then automatically installs itself on the browser without the user’s knowledge. It then records all the private data that the user inputs and sends it to the attacker.
3 types of Man-in-the-middle attacks
1) DNS spoofing
Domain Name Server (DNS) spoofing is a technique that forces the victim to visit the fake website instead of the genuine one. It might look like a real website but it might be the fraud one. The attacker’s goal is to divert the website traffic or to obtain the victim’s data.
2) Email Hijacking
Attackers target the email accounts of banks and financial institutions to gain access to the transactions between them and their customers. The attackers then spoof the bank’s email addresses and create a fake one, luring the user’s to share their personal information with them.
3) IP spoofing
Every device that connects to an internet connection has an internet protocol (IP) address, which is similar to your home address. The attacker here tricks the users into thinking that they are interacting with a real website and asks them to share information they’d otherwise not.
Prevention against Man-in-the-middle attacks
Protect your devices, connections and data with these few prevention steps:
- Make sure the URL you visit always has “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP.” The “S” stands for Secure.
- Be careful about any emails you receive regarding passwords or credentials updates. Here are top 3 insider tips you can refer to, to stay safe from Phishing Emails.
- Make sure that the WiFi your device is connected to is secure. Never connect to an Open WiFi network.
In the world where technology is rapidly growing, it is important to stay safe from cybercriminals and understand the different types of threat that could damage your data or compromise your confidential information.
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