What Is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack and How Can You Prevent Them?

What Is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack and How Can You Prevent Them?
Photo : What Is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack and How Can You Prevent Them?

Most casual computer users are fully aware that the internet is full of cyber threats that can compromise their devices and steal their data.

Because of this, many users avoid visiting suspicious websites and downloading unauthorized content. However, many users don't know that there is a threat that they can't prevent by simply avoiding suspicious links and content: man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks.

What is a MitM Attack?

Simply put, a MitM attack is when a hacker or cyber-attacker intercepts data from an unsuspecting user. The hacker or cyber-attack can either steal this data and sell it to a third-party or modify the traffic between users.

What's more, hackers can use MitM attacks to spy on their victims, giving them access to the victim's online activity and history.

Falling victim to a MitM attack can compromise a wide variety of data, some examples being:

  • Credentials (usernames, passwords, etc.)

  • Financial data

  • Personal data

Why Do Hackers Use MitM Attacks?

As mentioned earlier, hackers use MitM attacks to obtain or modify their victim's sensitive data.

One of the reasons they do this is to earn a profit. Many companies and third parties will pay top dollar for your precious data.

After obtaining your information, hackers and third parties can bombard you with phishing scams or other cyber-attacks. 

Additionally, companies can use your personal information to craft catered ads, which, in theory, have a higher chance of converting into sales.

With all of this in mind, it's clear why your data is so valuable to hackers and cybercriminals.

How Do MitM Attacks Work?

Simply put, during a MitM attack, a cybercriminal uses specific software to sit in between two connecting parties (hence the name). As one party shares information with the other, the cybercriminal uses the software to intercept the data. 

MitM attacks can happen on any network; however, it's easier for hackers to initiate them on vulnerable networks, like public WiFi networks. This is due to the fact that most public networks have minimal cybersecurity features and aren't password protected.

How to Avoid MitM Attacks in the Future

Unfortunately, after you've fallen victim to a MitM attack, there's very little that you can do to reobtain your data.

This is why it's so important for users to know how to avoid MitM attacks.

But, if you want to protect yourself from future MitM attacks, there's one tried-and-true solution: VPN protection.

You may be asking yourself questions like, "what is VPN protection and how can it help prevent future MitM attacks?".

Simply put, VPNs (virtual private networks) use high-quality cybersecurity technology to encrypt your device's data and mask specific credentials that hackers can use to identify your device (geolocation, IP address, etc.).

Hiding your information with a private VPN makes it practically impossible for hackers to intercept your data, even if you're using a public WiFi network.

It's also worth mentioning that frictionless VPNs offer a wide variety of other benefits, including:

  • Allows you to "spoof" your location

  • Get better prices while shopping online

  • Safely and anonymously torrent content on P2P networks

Although MitM attacks are a severe issue, you don't have to feel helpless. Remember to use a VPN when you connect to a public or private WiFi network.

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