What is a MiTM Attack?

MiTM attacks

MiTM attack, often referred to as Man-in-the-Middle or Monster in the Middle, pose a significant threat in the realm of cybersecurity. These malicious tactics involve intercepting and manipulating communication between two parties, allowing attackers to eavesdrop and tamper with messages undetected. Imagine it as the digital equivalent of the game of Telephone, where an unauthorized participant disrupts your conversation.

The objective of an MiTM attack is to illicitly acquire personal data, including login credentials and credit card information. Typically, the targets of such attacks are users of financial applications, e-commerce platforms, and other applications that necessitate user authentication. In this article, we shed light on the nature of MiTM attack and how they exploit vulnerabilities in communication channels.


How an MiTM Attack Typically Works

The attacker positions themselves between the communication of two parties. This could be between a user and a website, two devices communicating over a network, etc.

Interception: The attacker intercepts communication between two parties, making them believe they are communicating directly with each other.

Eavesdropping: The attacker can eavesdrop on the data being transmitted, collecting sensitive data such as passwords, credit card numbers, or other confidential data.

Modification: The attacker can alter the data being transmitted. For example, they might modify a legitimate message, redirect a user to a malicious website, or inject malware into the communication.

Impersonation: The attacker can impersonate one or both parties involved in the communication. This allows them to gain unauthorized access to systems or manipulate the communication for their benefit.


Common Techniques used in MiTM Attack

MITM attacks can occur in various forms, and they often target communication channels like Wi-Fi networks, email, web browsers, or any other method where data is transmitted between two or more parties. Here are some common techniques used in MiTM attacks:

Eavesdropping: The attacker intercepts data packets as they travel between the two legitimate parties, allowing them to monitor the communication.

Data Manipulation: The attacker can modify the data being exchanged between the two parties. For example, they can alter the content of emails, change URLs in web requests, or manipulate financial transactions.

Session Hijacking: Attackers may attempt to take control of an existing session between a user and a website. Potentially impersonating the user.

SSL Stripping: Attackers may try to downgrade secure HTTPS connections to unencrypted HTTP. Making it easier to intercept and manipulate data.

Rogue Access Points: Attackers set up rogue Wi-Fi access points with names similar to legitimate networks. Tricking users into connecting to the malicious network.

ARP Spoofing: Attackers manipulate Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to associate their MAC address with the IP address of the target device. Diverting traffic through their system.

DNS Spoofing: Attackers can compromise the Domain Name System (DNS) to redirect users to malicious websites.


Rogue Devices used in MiTM Attacks

One particularly concerning variant of Man in The Middle attack is the hardware-based approach, leveraging rogue devices to infiltrate communication channels (MiTM attack devices). These MiTM attack require physical access to tangible assets, such as Wi-Fi routers, network servers, or ATMs. Enabling cyber attackers to attach rogue devices and initiate their nefarious activities.

It’s important to be aware of notable MiTM attacks, such as the ATM Black Box attack. This hardware-based assault gained attention in 2017 and continues to pose a threat today. The Black Box attack involves connecting a rogue device directly to an ATM via USB ports, intercepting and manipulating communication between the ATM PC and the cash dispenser. The consequences can be devastating, as the attacker can command the machine to dispense cash, causing substantial financial losses (ATM Jackpotting Attacks).


The Importance of Physical Layer Visibility

Traditional security solutions often overlook the physical layer visibility of the OSI model, leaving devices vulnerable to Black Box attacks. This deficiency makes it crucial to adopt proactive measures that account for hardware-based attacks. Unfortunately, existing security solutions, such as NAC, IDS, EPS, and more, fail to cover, the physical layer visibility of the OSI model. As such, the rogue device goes undetected, leaving the ATM unprotected against Black Box attacks.

A 2023 report found that, in the first half of 2023, all but one logical attacks on ATMs were Black Box attacks. This caused losses of more than $500,000 (Black box attacks).

Sepio’s physical layer analysis creates DNA profiles for all known and shadow assets, enhancing visibility and closing existing gaps. This analysis covers electrical, mechanical, and functional characteristics, ensuring impartial and objective assessments. This approach avoids misleading perceptions and behavioral assumptions, enabling accurate identification of assets regardless of their function or location. Sepio’s platform enhances enterprise cybersecurity by eliminating network blind spots.


How to Prevent MiTM Attacks?

MITM attacks are a serious security threat because they can lead to the theft of sensitive information, such as login credentials, personal data, or financial details. To defend against the insidiousness of MiTM attacks and the ever-present risk of Black Box intrusions, Sepio offers an unparalleled solution. Sepio’s platform ensures comprehensive asset visibility, leaving no hardware device, IT/OT/IoT, undetected.

Furthermore, Sepio’s Asset Risk Platform (ARM) provides robust policy enforcement mechanisms, allowing for comprehensive hardware access control. Through its rogue device mitigation feature, the solution instantly identifies and blocks unauthorized or malicious hardware, neutralizing potential MiTM attacks. By adopting a Zero Trust Hardware approach fortified by Sepio, organizations can effectively thwart Black Box attacks and maintain the integrity of their communication channels.

By understanding the nature of MiTM attack and leveraging Sepio’s solution, organizations can fortify their defenses against hardware-based attacks. Discover the power of Layer 1 visibility and comprehensive hardware access control to safeguard your communication channels from MiTM attack. Stay one step ahead and ensure the security and confidentiality of your digital communications.

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June 16th, 2022