We tend to see fear on everything we do online but in reality it is no worse than the crime that we face in everyday life. Some parts of a neighborhood are worse than others and that is how it is online as well. There are some places that you are going to go to online that you wish you hadn’t. But sometimes, just like in real life, there is nothing that you can do to avoid criminal trouble. Sometimes you are just a tempting target that some criminal is going to try and prey on. So to make sure that you are not defenseless you must always have your guard up. You need to make sure that your business and home networks are not susceptible to some of the more popular attacks out there.
One of the attacks that you need to make sure that you are protected from is known as a man in the middle attack. It is the type of network attack that has been around for a while now but people are still not protected from it. Even though it is probably the easiest attack to stop most people do not bother or do not know about it. In this article I will talk about what a man in the middle attack is and how you can protect yourself from it. After this you should have no excuse if you are caught in one.
What is a man in the middle attack?
As I said earlier there are plenty of attacks that can happen which will expose the data on your computer but a man in the middle attack is one of the simplest to pull off. All you have to do is to know the right software to use and be at the right place at the right time. And that is the key to the whole situation. This type of attack is known as a physical attack. The person has to be there to be able to intercept the data.
The attack starts off by having a person go to a place where there is wireless data transmitting. While there are man in the middle attacks for wired networks most of the man in the middle attacks these days focus on wireless networks. So once they are there, they set up their own access point that looks like the access point that the person who is sending the data usually connects to. Since most people are used to a routine, that person is not going to do a thorough check on whether it is the right access point or not. They just need the name to be the same. Once they connect the fake access point in the middle, the access point takes the data, siphons it, and then sends it to the real destination. That way they have a copy of the data that is being sent but it is also going to the real destination so that the person sending it does not get suspicious. To their eyes, the data is being sent back and forth just like it normally would. They are not aware that someone is in the middle taking the data for their own purposes.
How is this type of attack possible?
This type of attack is possible because people do not take the time to encrypt their data properly. If you really wanted to stop an attack like this from happening you would make sure that not only the data that is being sent but also the line that is sending the data is encrypted. These days even most home routers come with a way that you can encrypt the stream. Most of new routers have it set to default. If you are using a home router just make sure that the encryption is not set to WEP. That encryption type was proven to be easy to break a long time ago.
But you must encrypt the data that is being sent as well. There are plenty of programs that will encrypt the data that you send. Also if you are on a web site that offers a SSL layer of encryption make sure you use that as well. You will know that it is on by the https at the beginning of your web page address. Also you will see a lock somewhere on your browser. This makes sure that if anyone was able to grab the data in the middle of it being transmitted that the information they grabbed would be useless. They would have to decrypt the data that was sent and, depending on the level of encryption that was used, it would be almost impossible.
If you have any important data being sent over a wireless network you must be careful in how it is sent. Encrypting that data is the best tool that we have so far in fighting this type of intrusion.