The “Man In The Middle” Attack Is An Effective Form Of Digital Crime

As the integration of digital technology with everyday life continues, identity theft has quickly become one of the more popular and commonplace crimes of the 21st century. Rather than the physical risk of robbing someone, or the legal risk of charges of mugging, identity theft is physically safe while at the same time capable of stealing far more funds than would typically be stored as cash in the average wallet.

Many tactics are used to achieve this, but one of the more effective and efficient ones is a technique known as the “Man In The Middle” attack.

How It Works

The Man In The Middle attack is the digital equivalent of a postal worker opening up mail, reading it for salient details such as credit card number or social insurance number, and then closing up the letter and delivering it to the mailbox. In other words, important data is taken, but the user is never aware that a theft has occurred.

One of the most common ways a Man In The Middle Attack is executed is by a criminal offering a free Wi-Fi spot. People who log in thinking they are taking advantage of free Wi-Fi fail to realize that all of their input, from their names to their passwords, is being monitored and copied by the Wi-Fi provider and decrypted. The criminal then takes that data to log into those accounts and seize control.

More active forms of Man In The Middle attacks include:

  • IP Spoofing
  • DNS Spoofing
  • ARP Spoofing

While decryption techniques can run the gamut from HTTPS spoofing to SSL stripping.

Better Security Is Needed Like Passwordless Authentication

Man in the middle attacks is one of the reasons why improved security, such as passwordless authentication, is an important component of protecting data—a man in the middle attack intercepts and decrypts inputs. However, a passwordless authentication mechanism cannot be replicated by using a physical key with a digital code or biometric authentication. 

Even if a password has been stolen, it still cannot gain a thief access without the other passwordless authentication components, such as the key, or a fingerprint, face, eye, or another biometric requirement. Multi-authentication security methods add extra layers of protection to defeat these more sophisticated forms of crime.

Man in the middle attacks and other forms of cybercriminal intrusions rely on vulnerabilities such as single password authentication systems. However, improved security measures, like FIDO protocols, can help to repel these kinds of cyber security breaches. Read here to learn more

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