Avoiding Man-in-the-Middle Attacks

black and white mask near black and gray ip desk phone

Staying informed about threats that can compromise online security is a critical task. While Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks are not as common as other types of cyberattacks, they can create a great deal of damage. By injecting themselves into your communication, MITM attackers can harvest personal information and login credentials, while also installing malware on your device. Here are some of the various ways these attacks work, and ways of avoiding man-in-the-middle attacks.

Types of MITM Attacks

Spoofing IPs, domain name servers (DNS) and HTTPS allows the attacker to fool you into thinking you’re on a secure site when you’re actually interacting with the cyberthief.

Using a public Wi-Fi carries many risks, one of which is to let the attacker monitor your activity and thus intercept credit card payments and login information.

Hijacking emails, such as email accounts of financial institutions, gives the attacker what they need to create a website that mimics your bank. By tricking you into clicking on the link, they gain access to your money.

Stealing your browser cookies, which store information about you, allows attackers access to sensitive personal information.

What to Watch Out For

  • Unexpected, repeated disconnects can indicate that an attacker is listening.
  • Always check addresses in your browser bar for anything odd, such as one letter off in an address that looks legitimate.
  • Beware of using public Wi-Fi networks. Attackers can create fake networks, such as “free wireless” to try to trick you into connecting so they can monitor your activity.

Protect Yourself from MITM Attacks

  • Be cautious when responding to unsolicited emails asking for your password or login credentials. Instead, go to the actual website with which the attacker is pretending to be associated.
  • Don’t click on any email links you haven’t thoroughly investigated.
  • Make sure you have installed Internet security software on your device, such as Bitdefender or F-Secure, and keep it up-to-date.
  • Use a VPN such as ProtonVPN or F-Secure Freedome VPN when on public Wi-Fi
  • Use strong, unique passwords for all your connections.
  • Check all URLs of any website you visit to be sure it has HTTPS (with the “S”).

The Bottom Line

Take the time to educate yourself about cyberattacks and ways to protect your device. Keep your passwords updated and strong. A little effort goes a long way in keeping you safe from attackers.

Core Topic: Protecting Your Privacy and Data Online