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What are ‘Man-in-the-middle’ attacks? Prevention tips


Man-in-the-middle attacks (MitM) are dangerous as attackers interfere between users and the websites they visit. This allows them to steal credentials, spy on their victims, or alter the data.

How do Man-in-the-middle attacks work? 

The name of the attacks comes from the fact that attackers position themselves between the users and the host. Although they are quite difficult to detect, here is the way these attacks work.

Even though they are one of the oldest types of cyberattacks, they are still relevant today. Researchers have tracked them back until the ’80s. During these, hackers could passively listen in on the connection, or even intercept it. So, they can replace the legitimate connection with a new one.

The main purpose of the villains is to spy on users or redirect funds or resources. One of the ways websites try to protect against them is encryption. Still, experienced attackers reroute the traffic.

Thus, users will land either on a phishing website, or land on the desired pages. But only after hackers are already in possession of their data.

In these attacks, villains can even set an HTTPS connection to the server. Still, they use an unsecured one with the victim. So, they can harvest or manipulate any data they want.

For instance, hackers can monitor the banking actions of a user. They can change the destination of the money and even the amount.

To reach their goals, villains use compromised legitimate updates to install malware. Then, they gain access to the victims’ computers.

It is all the more dangerous as these attacks can be automated. They just look for passwords and then use them. They are so sophisticated, that they can affect the routing protocols.

In some other cases, they change the DNS settings for some domains. Whenever a user tries to access these domains, they connect to a spoofed IP address.

How to prevent such attacks?

Prevention should be the website’s concern. Still, end users are the ones that suffer the most because of these attacks. To prevent them, you have a few things to do:

1.             Avoid using open public Wi-Fi connections.

2.            Use VPNs to establish secure connections.

3.            Set multi-factor authentication.

Now, that you know how to protect yourself from these attacks, you should never become one of their victims.

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