Man in The Middle Attacks
The internet has changed the way we live our lives in such a way that the world needs it to be able to function properly. It has become a core part of our lives.
Tons of people use it because of how useful it is and how many things you can do with it. Most of us, trust websites with our precious personal information thinking that it is secure and that only the website’s managers can access it, but sadly, this is not true.
The internet is a double-edged sword because, with it, you can optimize hugely your life but you can also lose all your money and get in debt for the rest of your life.
How? You may be wondering. Well, there are thousands of ways to access your private information via websites security holes or directly from your personal computer. One of the most used and harmful hacking technique is man-in-the-middle attack or MITM attack for shorts.
A lot of people have been victims of MITM attacks but don’t be afraid, it is mostly due to ignorance. With some caution, you can prevent those attacks to be targeted at you. I am going to tell you about man-in-the-middle attacks and how to prevent them in this article so you can avoid being hacked or getting your personal information stolen from an internet stranger.
What is an MITM attack
It is fairly simple, an MITM attack is a general term used to describe an internet attack that consists in a perpetrator positioning himself in a private conversation, just in between the user and the application he is using to communicate. By doing that, the perpetrator can eavesdrop the conversation or impersonate one of the parties for different purposes.
The purpose of this attack is to steal the personal information of any user they can, like account details, login credentials, credit cards numbers and other more sensitive and important information to you. Because of this, most of the victims are usually users of financial websites or application where login is required to access.
The information obtained by the perpetrator can be used by them for tons of purposes, but the main ones are unapproved money transfers, identity thief or just to sell your password to the highest bidder.
How do they happen
A successful man-in-the-middle attack has two different phases, interception, and decryption.
The first thing that attackers do is intercepting the victim internet traffic via their own network before it reaches its original destination.
One of the simplest and common ways of doing that is through a passive attack in which the perpetrator makes multiple free and malicious Wi-Fi hotspots so that any victim falls into the trap. Once a poor victim connects to said Wi-Fi, the perpetrator has complete visibility of any online data exchange made by the victim.
After the attacker intercepts the data, any SSL traffic has to be decrypted by them without alerting neither the user nor the application. There are lots of different methods to accomplish this and the most common one is HTTPS spoofing.
How to Prevent MITM Attacks
Preventing man-in-the-middle attacks from happening requires some practical steps on the part of users, as well as verification and encryption methods from applications.
Here are some ways that users like you can prevent MITM attacks:
Log out of any secure application that has personal information when you are not using it.
Avoid any Wi-Fi connections that don’t have password protection unless you know the owner personally.
Never use public networks like the ones at hotels and coffee shops to make very sensitive transactions.
Pay attention to notifications from your web browser that reports a website as being not secure and don’t put personal information on them.