Man in the Middle Attacks: What They Are and How to Prevent Them

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What if someone could sneak into your home, move all your furniture around, and then leave without you knowing? It would be as if they’d never been there — except they’d have planted cameras to spy on you forever after.

This is the chilling scenario offered by so-called “man-in-the-middle” (MitM) attacks in which an attacker inserts themselves between two parties trying to communicate. The attacker captures traffic from both ends, manipulates it to impersonate one party, and then forwards the manipulated traffic back to each party.

Both sides think they’re talking directly to the other party, but their communications have been captured and manipulated.

The attacker has inserted themselves as a middleman between them. It’s a fairly straightforward way of gaining access to private information that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. Let’s take a closer look at MitM attacks, how they work and how you can protect yourself against them.

man in the middle attacks are a type of cyber attack
Eleven Types of Cyber Attacks

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

A “man in the middle” attack is when a cybercriminal sets up a trick between you and the website you want to access. In other words, they set up an “intervention” into your internet session. This happens when you are browsing the internet and are directed to log into a website as part of your normal internet session.

A man-in-the-middle attack happens when you log in to the website, and the criminal diverts your login information to their computer. The criminal then logs in to the website using your information, and once logged in on their computer; the criminal then redirects you to the website you wanted to log into.

This happens because criminals have set up their computers to act as a “man in the middle” and are “intervening” in your internet session. This is different from a computer hacker who is trying to break into your computer and steal information.

cyber image to represent man int he mirror attacks
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How Does a Man-in-the-Middle Attack Work?

There are three main varieties of MitM attacks: – “Sniffing” attack: This is when an attacker intercepts network traffic to steal information such as login details to social networks and email accounts. In this kind of MitM attack, the attacker is forwarding data between the two parties without altering it, so they don’t gain access to the content of the communications. – “Spoofing” attack:

This is when an attacker redirects traffic between the two parties to trick them into communicating with each other through the attacker. For example, the attacker may send a spoofed email to one party pretending to be from the other party. – “Man in the Browser” attack is when an attacker uses malware to hijack a user’s browser session and modify website content, including injecting new advertisements and tracking cookies.

How to Detect a Man in the Middle Attack

A man-in-the-middle attack is when your computer is hacked or infected with malware that redirects your internet connection through a different IP address. Your computer will then communicate with the attacker, not the website you are trying to access.

To check if you are experiencing this, you can visit the website http://ip-address.org/. You will likely be hacked if you see another IP address in the “Your IP Address” section. However, keep in mind that this website is not 100% accurate. Instead, it will give you a rough idea of your IP address.

How to Protect Yourself from a MitM Attack

First, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) service to protect yourself from MitM attacks. VPNs encrypt your data, so even if an attacker intercepts it, they won’t be able to read it. You should also use strong passwords and be wary of links and attachments in emails that might be tricking you into clicking on a malicious website.

You should also be careful when connecting to public WiFi networks since it is easy for hackers to create a man-in-the-middle attack. While it is impossible to completely protect yourself from a MitM attack, you can greatly reduce your risk by taking the above precautions and being vigilant when browsing the internet.

Conclusion

A man-in-the-middle attack is when a cybercriminal sets up a trick between you and the website you want to access. In other words, they set up an “intervention” into your internet session. This happens when you log in to the website, and the criminal diverts your login information to their computer. The criminal then logs in to the website using your information, and once logged in; the criminal then redirects you to the website you wanted to log into.

However, remember that it is impossible to completely protect yourself from a MitM attack. Instead, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) service to protect yourself from MitM attacks and be wary of links and attachments in emails that might be tricking you into clicking on a malicious website.


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