As new technological developments continue to spring up, we see cybercriminals stepping up their game, creating new techniques for stealing personal data. Needless to say, it is never easy to keep our information secure online. While there are attacks that do minimal harm to individuals, there are still large-scale breaches on financial databases and popular websites. The cybercriminals will use man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks to install their malware on the user’s computer.
It is important for us to understand how they work in order to protect ourselves from such attacks. In this post, we will teach you how to keep safe from man-in-the-middle attacks. We will show you the nature of this hacking technique to keep you from becoming the unsuspecting victim.
What are MITM Attacks?
Also referred to as ‘bucket brigade attacks’, man-in-the-middle attacks are hacking techniques that cybercriminals use to persuade two parties to form a mutual authentication. The attackers simulate a secure online environment and go between two parties, making them believe that they are communicating directly with each other over a private connection. All the while, the attackers control the entire conversation.
As we’ve mentioned, this technique can only be successful once the attacker has established a mutual authentication between the two parties. These days, there are cryptographic protocols specifically designed to protect users from MITM attacks. Generally, a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol should be available to allow one or both parties to ensure a mutually trusted certification authority.
How MITM Attacks Work?
In essence, a man-in-the-middle attack is eavesdropping. It requires three players:
- The victim – the targeted user.
- The entity – a legitimate financial institution, database, or website.
- The man in the middle – the cyber criminal who will try to intercept the communication between the two parties.
Let us show you an example of how MITM attacks work. The victim receives an email appearing like a genuine message from their bank. The message states that the victim has to log into their account to confirm their contact information. Of course, there will be a link inside the email, which the victim has to click. They will be taken to a website that simulates the look of the actual site of their bank. Thinking that they are on a legitimate financial site, the victim will submit their log-in credentials. The reality is, they are handing their sensitive information to the ‘man in the middle’.
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On the other hand, cybercriminals can also use a poorly secured or unsecured Wi-Fi router to intercept the victim’s communication. They can exploit the router, using malicious programs. What they will do is configure their laptop as a Wi-Fi hotspot, selecting a name commonly used in public areas like coffee shops and airports. If a user connects to that malicious router to access commerce or banking sites, the attacker will take advantage of their credentials for later use.
What are Possible Safeguards Against MITM Attacks?
There are plenty of tools available to carry out MITM attacks. So, it only makes sense to take measures in protecting yourself, your connections, and your data. Here are some tips on how to keep safe from man-in-the-middle attacks:
- Always check if there is an ‘https’ in the address of the websites you visit.
- Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi routers directly. If possible, use a virtual private network (VPN) that can encrypt your Internet connection.
- Be cautious of phishing emails that require you to update your login credentials or passwords. Avoid clicking links in your emails. It is best to manually type the address of the website instead of reaching it by clicking links from your inbox.
- Most of the attacks are carried out using malware. As such, we recommend installing Auslogics Anti-Malware. This tool can easily detect cookies that track your activity and collect your data. It will even scan your browser extensions, preventing data leaks. It will identify malicious items you’d never suspect existed, keeping your online activities secure and safe.
Can you suggest other methods for protecting yourself from MITM attacks?
Share your ideas in the comments below!