How to Prevent a Man in the Middle Attack

Network Security
Cybercrime through the Internet.

Every industry in the world is adapting to digitalization. But with digitalization arises the problem of cybercrimes. According to a report published by Verizon, 86% of the global data breaches are financially driven. According to the 2020 ACRP from Cybersecurity Ventures, damages by cybercrime are anticipated to cost organizations and businesses $6 trillion per year by the end of 2021. Today businesses and individuals need to maintain proactive cybersecurity as the cost of an attack might run into millions, a price only a few can pay.


What is a Man in the Middle Attack?


Man-in-the-middle attacks are gaining momentum in recent times. It is an eavesdropping attack. It is the theft of information run by a hacker who wants to intercept sensitive data. This means that the hacker will insert themselves in a conversation or data transfer between two parties. Generally, this kind of cyberattack happens if you transfer information over a compromised network by a smartphone, computer, laptop, or other connected devices. 


A Man in the Middle attack is particularly relevant to small-medium-sized businesses. This is because most of these attacks are targeted at businesses that can’t afford premium cybersecurity solutions. These attacks can be detrimental for a business or an individual as well. 


Man in the Middle attacks is nothing new. They have been around for a long time. Considering the amount of damage they can do, a modern-day business must gauge their vulnerabilities and adopt measures to keep the IT infrastructure safe from attacks. 


How Does a Man in the Middle Attack Work?


Man in the Middle is one of the oldest cybersecurity attacks. Their main goal is to snoop or spy on groups or individuals to steal login credentials, funds, credit card numbers, and other resources. In this kind of attack, the hacker sits between the application and the user without them knowing it and then intercepts the personal information you share. Usually, these attacks are attempted through public Wi-Fi. 


Man in the Middle attack can be attempted in various ways based on the goals and target of the attacker. The attacker can use email hijacking to access the user’s email accounts and steal the details. An attacker might try DNS snooping or HTTPS snooping to act as an authentic web page. As soon as the user logs into the duplicate web page, the hacker will get all information. 


What are the Key Vulnerabilities of Man in the Middle Attacks?


Man-in-the-middle attacks depend on the ability of the hacker to impersonate business applications or users through messaging, as well as technically. This is to access private and secure communications and manipulate the users to share sensitive data. 


Common threats from a Man in the Middle attacks are as follows. 


Phishing Scams


In this type of Man in the Middle attack, hackers send fake emails from a reliable source, such as bank websites or upper management, to manipulate users to share passwords and other personal information.  


One of the best examples of this type of attack is fraud email accounts from an attacker posing as the bank requesting login access because that seems to be valid enough. This log-in link will take you to a fake bank website that looks exactly similar to the original website. The attacker then uses the authentication details you entered to make withdrawals from the bank.


One of the most prominent African financial institutions found itself the target of a powerful ATM fraud attack in 2016. About 100 people used forged credit cards, and the hackers withdrew $19 million from 1400 different ATMs in a single city within just 3 hours. 


Router Spoofing


In this case, the hacker will configure the laptop to use public Wi-Fi, choosing a name commonly used in the location to trick you into connecting. Once you connect, the hacker then keeps track of your network traffic and uses sensitive login credentials. It is the most common form of Man in the Middle attack. 


Malicious Employees


More extensive and invaluable enterprises, such as finance, are particularly at the risk of highly skilled in-house IT staff maliciously. It is the least common form of a Man in the Middle Attack, but it is possibly the most dangerous. This involves an attacker knowing about the business’s security systems, procedures, and policies. So, hacking and fake communications have become much more manageable. 


Malware Infections


Fraudsters might also initiate the attack through malware infection, either of a personal computer, networking hardware, Wi-Fi network routers, or web browsers. 


It is pretty similar to router spoofing. But in this case, the attack can be from a remote location. Also, this attack is more brutal to detect. 


However, there are some straightforward ways to prevent these attacks. So, keeping these vulnerabilities in mind, let’s take a look at a few steps to limit this Middle MITM attack. 


How to Prevent MITM Attacks?


Based on the vulnerabilities discussed above, existing IT infrastructure, and knowledge of the users of the possible IT security threats, detecting a Middle MITM attack can be difficult. So, it is better to prevent MITM attacks. 


Larger businesses need to attract hackers to hire the right IT partner and ensure their security systems and policies protect them from a Middle MITM attack. Here are a few steps that will help in reducing the risk. 

  • Make sure that your employees don’t use a public Wi-Fi network for personal work. 
  • You can use VPNs or virtual private networks to secure the connection, enabling employees to connect to an internal private network from a secure location to secure online business applications. 
  • Check if sensitive online logins and transactions are secured with HTTPS using plugins. 
  • Come up with a separate Wi-Fi network for your guests, business application data transfers, and internal use. 
  • Implement the latest version of high-security browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. 
  • Use the authentication details, such as the different forms of two-factor authentication for sensitive accounts. 
  • Use SSL/TLS to secure your email accounts and protect messages while it is being transferred. You can use PGP/GPG encryption to protect them. 
  • It is crucial to monitor and audit your networks regularly to maintain them. 


Ensuring Your Business is Protected from Man in the Middle Attacks


While the protection measures given above are reasonable steps, preventing an attack involves securing various vulnerabilities and implementing technical solid-solid technical solutions. 


IT professionals best manage and implement state-of-art tools and methods to secure the business against MITM attacks, such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, Advanced Address Resolution Protocol, and IDSs. 


If your in-house staff doesn’t have the required resources for conducting a thorough security audit and use more advanced measures, get in touch with an IT firm specialized in cybersecurity to ensure that your business is well-protected against Man in the Middle attacks.

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