A Man-in-the-middle attack is a form of cyberattack where important data is taken by an attacker using a special technique to put themselves into the communication process. An attacker might use a man-in-the-middle attack to steal login credentials or personal information, spy on the victim or organization, or even corrupt important data. This type of attack can be a significant concern for businesses and large organizations. Targets are typically the users of financial applications, SaaS businesses, e-commerce sites and other websites where a login is required. A Man-in-the-middle attack usually consists of sitting between the connection of two separate parties and either quietly spying or manipulating the parties. This can be extremely dangerous because the attackers might be silently observing or re-encrypting traffic to its intended source, making the attack quite challenging to spot. Information stolen during this type of attack could be used for many purposes, including identity theft, fund transfers, or wrongful password changes.
A Man-in-the-middle attack often targets individuals, but it can also be a significant concern for larger businesses and organizations as well. One of the most common points of access for attackers is through the SaaS applications. This includes messaging services, file storage systems, or even remote work applications. Attackers will use these ways to enter an organization’s network and potentially compromise login credentials or personal information, spy on the victim or organization, or even corrupt important data. Here are some common types of Man-in-the-middle attacks a person or business might encounter.
1. WiFi Eavesdropping – This type of attack involves a hacker stealing data while on a public unsecured WiFi network, usually through a computer, smartphone, or another connected device. These connections can happen in public places like airports, hotels, restaurants, etc. This attack takes advantage of unsecured network communications to access confidential data as it is being sent or received by its user. WiFi Eavesdropping can also be a more direct attack, with hackers setting up a fake free network, made to look like it’s the official business’s WiFi.
2. Email Hijacking – This type of attack can happen to both individuals and an organization. When an attacker breaches an email account, they then monitor communications between the two parties, trying to retain confidential information sent to their email accounts. They then go on to steal data from users related to the hijacked email account. Email hijacking is usually done through phishing and other social engineering scams, in which attackers deceive victims into revealing their credentials by directing them to fake login pages or tricking them into installing malware.
3. HTTPS Spoofing – This is when an attacker uses a domain that looks very similar to that of the targeted website. The characters in the target domain are replaced with other characters that look very similar. The victim is very unlikely to notice the difference and is assured by the browser’s secure connection indication. An example of this is www.g00gle.com.
4. Stealing Browser Cookies – Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember information or to record the users browsing history. Unfortunately, an attacker can hijack these browser cookies. Since cookies store information from your browsing session, attackers can gain access to your passwords, address, and other sensitive information.
Man-in-the-middle attacks have been around for a long time, and while they’re not as common as phishing and malware or even ransomware, they are usually part of targeted attacks with specific intent. There are many ways you can help prevent these types of attacks. Only connect to secured WiFi routers or use your wireless carrier’s encrypted connection. Connect to routers that use WPA2 security. Also , adding a VPN to encrypt traffic between end-points and the VPN server. If traffic is encrypted, it’s harder for a man-in-the-middle attacker to steal or modify it. Another tip is to use a password manager to protect your passwords and prevent the reuse of passwords. They offer a convenient way to manage accounts to digital assets and help you create better passwords, making your online existence less vulnerable to password-related attacks.
Managing sensitive access credentials is key in protecting Man-in-the-middle attacks. CyberArk is the global leader in privileged access security and password vaulting, a critical layer of IT security to protect data, infrastructure, and assets across the enterprise, in the cloud, and throughout the DevOps pipeline. CyberArk delivers the industry’s most complete solution to reduce the risk created by privileged credentials and secrets.