What is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack?

      Posted by Peter Zeller on Oct 29, 2019 8:00:00 AM

      action-blur-close-up-735911With the many, many different types of cyberattacks out there, it is easy to forget about or be unaware of the lesser known ways that your data could become compromised. Being unaware and uninformed about types attacks can leave you vulnerable to that exact attack. Researching the different types of network attacks has the potential to save your business from ransomware and other serious breaches. 

      One of the lesser known cyberattack methods comes in the form of a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attack. In recent months, over 500M+ users of a specific browser on Android were exposed to MITM attacks. This is serious stuff, and is worth taking proactive action against.

      What is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack?

      Have you ever been sitting somewhere when you suddenly tuned into a conversation you found interesting? Two people having a casual (or potentially important) conversation and you “intercept” the conversation through your eavesdropping, learning information about the people talking or things they are involved in.

      If you understand this basic interaction, you can understand essentially what happens during a Man-in-the-Middle attack, except it occurs online, the intent is malicious, and the outcome may be devastating for the victim. Basically, anytime you are doing something online and someone gets in the middle of it to access your information, that is a MITM attack.

      What happens in a MITM Attack?

      Usually, when you are trying to access information online, like your email, your social media, your bank account, etc. you are acting as the client connecting to the server. However, in a MITM situation, the connection between you and the server is broken and a third party inserts themselves between you and the server, taking in all the information you are sending the server as well as all the information the server is sending you.

      Imagine John was supposed to receive money from Joe. John provides his account details to Joe and Joe sends the money through a secured platform to John. Simple. Now imagine a MITM intercepts the transaction. If John provides his bank account details to Joe the MITM can use John’s account details, and also has the power to manipulate the data on its way to Joe so Joe receives the wrong information and sends the money to the MITM. Yikes.

      How do I get hit with a MITM Attack?

      An MITM attack occurs much like an other cyberattack - The intruder gains access through an exploited backdoor of some sort and then proceeds to enact his attack. A MITM may gain access through an unsecured network (like “Free WIFI” in a public area) or through an email hack, like a phishing attack. Really, anywhere a vulnerability in a network can be exploited and malware can be inserted, that is where a MITM focuses their attention.

      Am I at risk of a MITM Attack?

      Everyone using an internet enabled device is potentially at risk of a MITM Attack. However, it is unlikely that, in your day to day, you will be a target of an attack. Most MITM hackers target financial transactions, bank accounts, financial institutions, etc. If money is involved, the hacker is probably interested. Your information on its own probably won’t entice a hacker unless there is some financial gain to be had through its use.

      How do I protect myself from a MITM Attack?

      Often, a MITM attack could have been prevented from simple proactive security practices. Never work from an unsecured network. Never click an unverified link. Update your login information on a regular basis and follow password best practices. At the business level, implement Network Intrusion and Prevention Systems as well as email firewalls organization-wide.

      Most attackers aim their attacks at vulnerable targets. It is unlikely that a hacker would go through the trouble of breaking down multiple layers of security unless the payoff were substantial. By implementing basic cybersecurity protocols & systems and following basic cybersecurity practices, you have protected yourself from the bulk of attacks.

      Bottomline

      MITM Attacks can be devastating both to your business and to your personal life. Without taking the necessary precautions, you are opening yourself up to a potentially crippling breach of security. Are you at risk of becoming a victim? Ensure that you are protected and never worry about becoming the next victim of a MITM Attack.

      Topics: Cloud Security, Cyber Threats

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