Every time we go online, we become potential targets for multiple cyberthreats that compromise sensitive data. A man-in-the-middle-attack (MiTM), one of the most prevalent snooping attacks, lets threat actors eavesdrop on the information flow between you and another entity. The “man” in the middle is the perp intercepting the communication.
Every piece of smart tech you own can be susceptible to MiTM attacks, from your smart doorbell to the mobile device in your pocket.
Just a taste of your average MiTM attack
Users worldwide are at risk of MiTM attacks when they connect to public and unsecured networks that allow malicious actors to become the man in the-middle and intercept your data in real time. Additional entry points for such an attack are your own devices. Accessing a phishing link or an attachment that installs malware on your device can allow threat actors to hijack your information and drain your bank accounts. Even your home router can be targeted in a MiTM attack. Your home router is probably supplied by your ISP and uses default admin credentials and outdated firmware. Attackers can access it because of the faulty security protocols and ultimately compromise your entire network and devices.
Here’s a list of the most common MiTM attack vectors that let cybercriminals gain control of your device and steal your data:
· Wi-Fi eavesdropping – An attacker can set up a fake Wi-Fi network in your local café, shopping center or airport, making it appear legitimate. When you connect to that network, the perp can monitor your activity and intercept sensitive data such as credit card information and passwords.
· HTTPS and IP spoofing – A threat actor can use spoofing techniques to trick users into believing they are accessing a secure website when they are not. By accessing a spoofed HTTPS website, the attacker can monitor your interactions and steal any personal information you share with that application. IP spoofing works similarly. In this scenario, the attacker makes you believe you’re interacting with a legitimate website by spoofing the IP address of the entity you are attempting to communicate with.
· Email hijacking – Financial firms and their customers are prime targets in this scenario. After monitoring the information exchange between a bank and its customers, an attacker can spoof the email address of the financial entity and trick the user into handing over sensitive data and even send money to the perps.
· Session hijacking – Cybercriminals can even hijack your browser session cookies to get their hands on your passwords and access your online accounts.
How can you prevent MiTM attacks?
To help protect your devices and data from MiTM attacks, follow the tips and tricks below:
- Keep your operating systems and devices up to date
- Use a VPN to add an extra layer of security to your local network or when accessing public Wi-Fi networks
- Avoid connecting to unsecured public WiFis when carrying out transactions, online banking, shopping, or other activities that use sensitive information
- Don’t access unsecured websites while browsing
- Pay attention to phishing emails
- Install a security solution on all your devices
- Reset passwords regularly and use a password manager to protect them
- Enable 2FA or MFA whenever possible
- Consider upgrading your home router to a commercial grade, or at least update your router firmware when possible
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