How Passwordless Technology Can Prevent Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Cyber Attacks
Cybercriminals are always one step ahead in their efforts to o obtain sensitive information for malicious purposes. They use various methods and strategies to mislead their victims, and the consequences are dire. From millions and up to billions in financial losses to damaging reputational risks, companies and individuals have plenty to lose.
You can read more about common cyber attacks on our website, including spear phishing and malware. Today we are going to focus on man-in-the-middle (MitM) cyber-attacks. These attacks are what you would imagine them to be.
They require the attacker to place themselves between two communicating parties and relay messages for them while the parties believe they communicate directly and securely. MitM attacks predate the computer age as they are known to be carried out outside the digital age.
MitM attacks can be devastating because they are discreet and can go undetected. One critical component that allows MitM attacks to be carried out is compromising authentication protocols. As noted by a recent Verizon report, 81% of breaches result from weak, stolen, or misused passwords, the most common form of authentication.
Passwordless technology can effectively stop MitM cyber attacks by removing the main factor behind breaches—password-centered authentication.
What are Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks?
A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack is a cyber attack in which criminals place themselves between two parties, typically the intended victim and an application, to intercept their communications and data exchanges and use them for criminal purposes like making unauthorized purchases or hacking.
The success of MitM attacks is dependent on two factors. First, the criminal must circumvent the victims’ authentication protocols, which facilitates the interception of sensitive data. The attacker will “secretly stand” between both parties, typically an individual and a trusted system, such as a website.
MitM attacks branch out and have variations and differing components. Common MitM cyber attacks include session hijacking, DNS spoofing, and SSL hijacking.
Also known as browser cookie theft, it usually entails an attacker stealing information stored on web browser cookies, such as saved passwords.
Also referred to as Domain Name System spoofing, it is when a spammer creates and operates a fake website that the victim is familiar with and routes them to it to acquire user credentials or other information, such as passwords, usernames, or banking information.
Hijacking the Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) is when a cybercriminal takes this protocol responsible for encrypting HTTPS connections and intercepts the victims’ data traveling between them and the server they’re connecting to.
How MitM attacks work
The most common signs of MitM cyber attacks are repeating and unexpected disruptions of a particular service. It’s usually caused by attackers forcefully disconnecting user sessions to intercept authentication information from victims. Another easily identifiable symptom is website links that vary from the actual website. For example, websites with the letter “O” may instead display the number “0.”
Some tools and services can be used to diagnose MitM attacks, such as deep packet inspection (DPI) and deep flow inspection (DFI) during network monitoring.
How Passwordless Technologies Can Prevent MitM Attacks
As noted earlier, the most common way hacks occur is because of weak, stolen, or misused passwords, the most common form of authentication.
Passwordless authentication is a login method that relies on other factors besides passwords ranging from login keys to biometric data such as a fingerprint or a facial recognition system.
One of the most known and secure is biometric authentication, which includes but is not limited to fingerprints and facial recognition. Biometric authentication is one of the safest and easiest-to-use passwordless authenticators because it relies on hack-proof user characteristics. As a result, smartphones are widely adopting this method.
Another method is cryptographic authentication, which relies on a smartphone or physical security key and a FIDO server as an intermediator between the authentication process.
Passwordless authentication methods avoid the mishaps of password-based systems by removing the main flaw—passwords—from the equation and increasing security while being more convenient and easier to use. In addition, eliminating passwords among users can improve their experience and leave virtually no room for error, which can be costly for businesses.
The clearest example of passwordless authentication is the increasing use of smartphones that allow users to access them via biometric authentication. And there is also Multi-Pass is a passwordless authentication method that is secure, fast, and easy to use. Moreover, its digital wallet runs on a highly secure biometric card.
MitM attacks can cause severe economic and reputation damage like other cyber attacks. MitM tactics are clever and can easily deceive the intending victims into believing their operating and exchanging information with a legitimate web application.
By eliminating the use and reliance on passwords, businesses stand to remove the primary vulnerability in handling critical information and avoid the potential loss of revenue and damage to their reputation due to MitM attacks.
If you want to discuss further how Kelvin Zero can help protect your business and sensitive information from MitM attacks, contact us here.