How Does Email Hijacking Work? The 4 Types of Hacker-in-the-Middle Attacks

Email Hijack- Blog

Email hijacking works by using three main techniques namely; social engineering, email spoofing, or inserting a virus into a computer. In social engineering, the hacker or the spammer will send emails that have something catchy like a huge discount to make people click on a link.

In email spoofing, the hacker will send an email from a known sender or a domain. The spammer aims at tricking the receiver to click a suspicious link or accept to transfer money.

A hacker can also insert a virus or any malware into their target’s system. Through the virus, the hacker can also perform other unwanted activities like stealing passwords.

What is a MiTM security attack?

A Hacker-in-the-middle attack or man-in-the-middle attack (MiTM) is like eavesdropping, where a cyber attacker intercepts a conversation or data transfer (e.g. email) and pretends to be one or both of the participants.

This allows the attacker to gain access to the information and data being transferred from any party whilst manipulating the data or sending malicious links to the other party. These kind of attacks would not become detected in most cases until it is too late.

This type of attack may sound like a telephone game in which the words of the first participant are carried to another until they are changed when it reaches the final individual.

Art of hacker-in-the-middle attacks

Attackers can make up their wireless communication points and trick nearby devices into joining their site. Spoofing ARP is ‘Address Resolution IP’ addresses resolution Protocol whose application resolves the IP address to the MAC address.

DNS is similar to ARP but the service is performed on a LAN by broadcasting like ARP. An attacker pretending to be at other locations could handle requests it did not need by giving it its own MAC. The victim is therefore supposed to trust the device of the attacker. This is dangerous because the attacker doesn’t even need to rely on a trusted network to perform an attack.

Any inappropriately protected interaction between two parties can be a target for a hacker-in-middle attack. Security measures in financial sites are necessary if an entry to a financial website is secured either via public code or private coding.

Hacker-in-the middle-attack methods

Using wireless devices which can be put into promiscuous mode or monitoring mode can allow an attacker to see packets it has never intended to see. Packet injection generally involves first sniffing to get when and how to resolve and send packets.

A hacker can sniff for sensitive traffic and use this to send requests from any client’s user information. SSL stripping allows HTTPS addresses to redirect to the appropriate HTTP endpoints. Sensitive information may be leaked in plain words. SSL security stripping is a famous security mechanism for DNS spoofing or ARP attacks where hackers deploy SSL stripping to modify requests to a server or to intercept traffic.

How do you detect a hacker-in-the-middle attack?

A hacker-in-the-middle attack can go unnoticed until it is too late. It is important to take precautions to avoid any MiTM attack. In a secure network, it is essential to observe browsing behaviors and understand potentially harmful areas.

Check for proper page authentication. Using any sort of tamper detection is a typical key technique to identify a possible attack. However, these procedures may require an additional forensic analysis if the exact nature of the attack is not known.

Best practices to prevent email hijacking attacks

Strong WEP/WAP encryption on WAP blocks unwanted users and activities from joining the protected network simply by standing nearby. This technique allows for the installation of strong virtual networks in a mobile network or an enterprise network.

The router log credentials in the configuration tab of a router are necessary because they should be used. HTTPS will be used to secure communication over HTTP with private public key exchange.

Public key pair-based authentication like RSA if used in real life can help you check what you intend to communicate with. Weak encryption methods allow hackers to gain forceful entry into a vulnerable network and then start MiTM attacks.

Examples of MiTM attacks

1. Rogue access point

Electronic gadgets which have a wireless card often connect automatically to a wireless access point with a powerful signal. This way, hackers can make their WAP trick nearby gadgets to connect to the domain and join it.

Through this connection, the attacker can manipulate all the victim’s traffic. For the attacker to perform this, they only need proximity with the device which makes it more dangerous.

2. ARP spoofing

Addresses Resolution Protocol resolves an IP address to a physical MAC protocol in a LAN. If a host wants to communicate with another with a provided IP address, then, it will refer to the Address Resolution Protocol cache in resolving it to the IP addresses, to its own MAC address.

When the address isn’t known, the request made will ask for the Media Access Control address of a gadget having that IP address.

3. mDNS spoofing

DNS is closely related to multicast DNS. However, it is performed on a LAN, using a broadcast-like address resolution protocol which ensures it is a good pick out for any spoofing attacks. Local name resolving system makes network gadgets configuration simple. The users also don’t require to know the exact IP address their device should be in communication with but it lets the involved system solve it.

Printers, entertainment systems, and other devices use this protocol because they are always on trusted networks. If an app requires to acquire an address of that device, the attacker can respond to the request with data that is fake and instruct the app to resolve that address to another address that the attacker has control of. The attacker’s device will now appear to the victim as trusted.

4. DNS spoofing attack

DNS resolves its domain names with the IP addresses. With a DNS spoof attack, the hacker tries to introduce a corrupt Domain Name System cache data or information to the host. This is an attempt to gain access to another host with the attacker’s domain name which leads the target to send sensitive or personal information to an untrusted source.

The victim however believes that they are interacting with a legitimate and trusted host. This session hijacking leads to security threats like the exposure of personal data. If an attacker has spoofed the IP address, it will be much easier to spoof the DNS by resolving that address of the Domain Name Server server to a hacker’s address and gaining access.

Other hacker-in-the-middle attack methods include sniffing, session hijacking, packet injection, and SSL stripping. Some of the best practices to prevent hacker-in-the-middle breaches and attacks include;

  1. Using strong WEP/WAP encryption controls on access points.
  2. Relying on virtual private networks.
  3. Using strong router login credentials.
  4. Always using HTTPS instead of HTTP.
  5. Using a public key pair-based authentication.

How cyber-secure is your business? Find out with our free cybersecurity health check.

It’s a 30-minute Zoom call that walks through a checklist to assess your current cybersecurity levels and provide a short report with some advice and recommendations.

Ready to protect your business?

Talk with us today.
We help simplify cybersecurity for your business.
We'll save you time, money and stress in getting your business and data protected. All our advice is plain english and jargon free. We promise no cyber-tech speak. Contact us today.

Call us today on 1300 523 746

Website Contact Form
Scroll to Top