May 20, 2023
MitM stands for Man-in-the-Middle. It is an attack in which an attacker intercepts the communication between two parties and secretly alters or relays the information being exchanged. The attacker is essentially positioned in the middle of the communication, hence the name Man-in-the-Middle.
The purpose of a MitM attack is to steal sensitive information or to manipulate the communication for malicious purposes. The attacker can obtain login credentials, financial information, personal data, or any other sensitive information that is being transmitted through the communication channel. In addition, the attacker can also manipulate the communication, such as redirecting the users to a malicious website or modifying the content to deceive the users.
MitM attacks can be performed on various types of communication channels, including web browsing, email, instant messaging, file transfer, and others.
MitM attacks can be performed in different ways, depending on the type of communication channel and the level of security. Here are some common methods used in MitM attacks:
ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) is a protocol used to map a network address (such as an IP address) to a physical address (such as a MAC address). In an ARP Spoofing attack, the attacker sends fake ARP messages to the network, tricking the other devices into believing that the attacker’s device is the legitimate device. By doing so, the attacker can intercept the traffic between the devices and manipulate the communication.
DNS (Domain Name System) is a protocol used to translate domain names (such as www.example.com) to IP addresses. In a DNS Spoofing attack, the attacker modifies the DNS responses to redirect the users to a malicious website. By doing so, the attacker can steal the users’ login credentials or install malware on their devices.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a protocol used to provide secure communication between two devices. In an SSL Stripping attack, the attacker intercepts the traffic between the devices and removes the SSL encryption. By doing so, the attacker can read the sensitive information being exchanged, such as login credentials or financial data.
Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to MitM attacks, especially in public places where the network is not secured. In a Wi-Fi Interception attack, the attacker sets up a fake Wi-Fi network with a similar name to the legitimate network. When the users connect to the fake network, the attacker can intercept their traffic and steal their sensitive information.
MitM attacks can be prevented by using various security measures, including:
Encryption is a method used to scramble the information being exchanged, making it unreadable to unauthorized users. By using encryption, even if the attacker intercepts the communication, they will not be able to read the sensitive information. SSL/TLS is a common encryption protocol used in web browsing and other communication channels.
Digital certificates are used to verify the authenticity of the communication channel and the identity of the parties involved. A digital certificate is issued by a trusted certificate authority (CA) and contains information about the website or the user. By checking the digital certificate, the user can ensure that the communication is secure and legitimate.
Two-factor authentication is a method used to add an extra layer of security to the login process. In addition to the password, the user is required to provide a second factor, such as a code sent to their phone or a fingerprint scan. By using two-factor authentication, even if the attacker obtains the password, they will not be able to access the account without the second factor.
A firewall is a software or hardware device that filters the incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent unauthorized access to the network. By using a firewall, the user can block the traffic from suspicious IP addresses or ports, reducing the risk of MitM attacks.