Although individuals are targeted in MITM cyberattacks, such incidents are also a pressing concern for businesses. After all, cybercriminals may utilize individuals' stolen data to compromise their workplace technology and assets (e.g., customer information, intellectual property and company funds), potentially resulting in significant losses and business disruptions. With this in mind, it's vital for businesses to take steps to safeguard their operations and employees against MITM incidents.
A MITM incident typically occurs in two phases. These phases include interception and decryption. During the interception phase, a cybercriminal will attempt to gain access to their target's technology-usually via a poorly secured Wi-Fi router or fake hotspot-and interfere with the victim's network connection. From there, the cybercriminal will be able to insert themselves between any digital interactions or exchanges their target may have, thus establishing themselves as the "man in the middle." As a result, the cybercriminal will have the ability to collect any confidential data shared during their target's interactions or exchanges (unbeknownst to the victim).
During the decryption phase, the cybercriminal will decode any data they collected from their target, therefore making this information intelligible and allowing it to be utilized to commit further nefarious acts. Cybercriminals may implement a range of techniques to carry out MITM incidents, including the following:
A variety of large-scale MITM incidents have occurred in recent years. In 2017, for instance, several financial institutions identified security vulnerabilities within their mobile banking applications that had contributed to MITM incidents among customers with iOS and Android phones. Another affected organization was TunnelBear, a virtual private connection (VPN) service based in Toronto. These vulnerabilities failed to uphold proper online hostname verification techniques, allowing cybercriminals to use false SSL certificates to bypass internet security protocols and conduct MITM cyberattacks.
Panasonic Canada confirmed a separate "targeted cybersecurity attack" on its systems in early 2022. During the incident, a hacker group stole nearly 3 gigabytes of data through undisclosed means and held it for ransom.
These real-world examples highlight how crucial it is for businesses to implement effective measures aimed at preventing MITM cyberattacks.
To help avoid and minimize the impact of MITM incidents, businesses should consider utilizing these measures:
As a whole, it's evident that MITM incidents pose significant cybersecurity threats and data protection concerns for all businesses. Yet, by having a better understanding of this cyberattack method and implementing sufficient prevention measures, businesses can help keep MITM risks at bay.
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Jul 7, 2022
A man-in-the-middle (MITM) cyberattack refers to a cybercriminal intercepting a digital interaction or exchange between individuals, systems or an individual and a system. During a MITM incident, a cybercriminal could eavesdrop on an interaction or pretend to be a participant in the exchange. MITM cyberattacks leverage various strategies to manipulate targets, but the goal of these incidents is largely the same-to retrieve confidential data and use it to commit additional crimes.
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