When ignorance isn’t bliss: Dangers of MITM attacks & defense against them

Special to SDN — Scitech and Digital News


Is it necessary to have cybersecurity measures installed? There’s no guarantee that hackers would target you anyway, right? I mean, what are the chances?

These are some of the thoughts that people have toward cybersecurity and cyber attacks. However, the reality is that there’s little to no safety in the digital world. Dependability on the cyberspace increase with its expansion, which means that we share and store an awful lot of information digitally. That could be detrimental if you’re the victim of a cyber attack. The situation worsens when you consider the consequences of a cyber attack, especially since it’s impossible to mitigate the losses incurred even if you discover the attack in time. The best strength against cyber attacks is having as much information as possible at your disposal. For that reason, this article (https://blog.netwrix.com/2018/05/15/top-10-most-common-types-of-cyber-attacks/) is an invaluable resource when it comes to combating man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – one of the most common cybersecurity threats to date.

What are MITM attacks?

MITM attacks are cyber attacks where the hacker intercepts communication between two or more digital systems. The hacker then either uses the information as obtained or manipulates the parties involved to gain even more valuable information. MITM attacks might not get a lot of media attention as opposed to attacks such as the ransomware attacks, but they can be just as damaging, if not more. Therefore, it is essential to understand the dangers posed by MITM attacks.

Dangers of MITM attacks

High-value information interception

Some types of MITM attacks provide hackers with the potential to obtain very high-value information. For instance, email interception provides the attacker with access to your emails, which could contain confidential information such as financial information and trade secrets. To counter such a loss of data, one would need to respond immediately to render the information useless. However, since detecting MITM attacks is almost impossible, it is impossible to counter, and the information loss becomes an even more dire threat.

Virus introduction

After intercepting your communications, the attacker could then gain access to your systems and introduce viruses such as trojan horses and keyloggers. Introducing viruses into your system poses an even more severe threat than simple one-time information interception since viruses have the potential of collecting more information over time.

Chain attacks

One of the more serious threats posed by MITM attacks is that they open you up to chain attacks. For instance, after obtaining confidential information, the attacker could then introduce ransomware in your device and offer to sell back the information back to you. The problem with that is that there’s little to no guarantee that the information will not be used elsewhere.

Defending against MITM attacks

Use cybersecurity tools

Your best defense against MITM attacks is using cybersecurity tools. However, cybersecurity tools provide a general solution instead of one that’s specific to MITM attacks. Also, you should note that you need to use multiple cybersecurity tools for the best protection. Thus, it is essential to know which of these tools provide the best security against MITM attacks. That is only achievable if you have a clear understanding of MITM attacks (https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/man-in-the-middle-attacks/) and defense against them.

For the best security, you need to use Tor over VPN as well as an antivirus. Tor and VPN are cybersecurity tools that provide privacy, anonymity and network security. Ideally, they keep attackers from intercepting your communication online by ensuring that no one can identify or decrypt them. On the other hand, the antivirus protects you from viruses used by hackers such as trojan horses, which could be used to initiate the MITM attacks.

Expand your information

As mentioned before, knowledge is your best strength against cyber attacks. For you to come up with a proper defense, you must first understand the MITM attacks, their execution, the various types of these attacks and your vulnerabilities. Nevertheless, having information is not enough since attacks hackers always evolve their attacks to circumvent your defenses. Therefore, you should ensure that you update your information regularly to avoid lagging and using outdated security measures.

Specific counters

Since MITM attacks vary, it is impossible to implement a single security measure that’s effective against them all. For that reason, you need to understand the various types of MITM attacks (https://cgscomputer.com/how-to-protect-against-man-in-the-middle-attacks/) and come up with specific countermeasures where necessary. For instance, for HTTP interception, you could install SSL/TLS certificates, configure your server and system correctly and use HSTS as specific countermeasures. These measures have no bearing against Wi-Fi interception, but they are highly effective against HTTP interception.

The bottomline

Where cybersecurity is concerned, ignorance could be catastrophic. It would be in your best interest not to underestimate any cyber attacks and invest in proper cybersecurity for insurance purposes. In the case of MITM attacks, you should look up the various types of these attacks, their execution and operation, and the best defenses against them for your protection. (TechWarn)

Editor’s Note:

Jack Wanner - Science and Digital News


Jack Warner is an accomplished cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies. A passionate digital safety advocate himself, Jack frequently contributes to tech blogs and digital media sharing expert insights on topics such as whistleblowing and cybersecurity tools. https://www.techwarn.com/author/jack-warner/

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