How to Prevent an API Breach
According to analyst firm ESG, 92% of…
An on-path attacker is a malicious actor who accesses sensitive traffic flow by positioning themselves along the communication path between the sender and receiver. By doing so, they can monitor and potentially modify the information being exchanged.
An on-path attacker, also known as a network-based or eavesdropping attacker, is someone who intercepts and manipulates communication between two parties within a network. This type of attacker gains unauthorized access to the traffic flow by positioning themselves along the communication path between the sender and receiver. By doing so, they can monitor and potentially modify the information being exchanged.
There are two main types of on-path attackers: passive on-path attackers and active on-path attackers. A passive on-path attacker simply observes the communication without making any modifications or changes to it. They aim to gather sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, financial details, or personal data for malicious purposes like identity theft or fraud.
On the other hand, active on-path attackers not only observe but also manipulate the communication flow in real-time. They have more control over the data being transmitted and can alter messages or redirect them to their desired destination. Active attacks may involve techniques like man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks or DNS spoofing.
Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks occur when an attacker intercepts and relays communications between two parties while pretending to be each one’s legitimate counterpart. In this scenario, all messages pass through the attacker’s system before reaching their intended destination. The attacker can eavesdrop on conversations, steal sensitive information, inject malicious code into transmitted data packets, or even modify messages.
DNS spoofing is another technique used by on-path attackers where they manipulate Domain Name System (DNS) responses to mislead users’ systems into connecting with fraudulent websites instead of legitimate ones. By altering DNS records cached by routers or user devices, these attackers can redirect users’ requests to malicious servers that appear genuine but are controlled by them.
The motives behind on-path attacks vary but often include financial gain through unauthorized access to valuable information such as banking credentials or trade secrets held by targeted organizations. Data theft is another common motivation where personal or sensitive information can be stolen and sold on the black market.
The consequences of on-path attacks can range from data breaches leading to financial loss, identity theft, compromised privacy, damaged reputation for individuals or organizations, and disruption of critical systems. It is imperative to take necessary steps to protect against such attacks by implementing measures like traffic encryption using protocols like SSL/TLS or VPNs and validating certificates through certificate pinning or PKI.
There are several ways to protect against on-path attackers and mitigate the risks associated with their malicious activities. Implementing these protective measures can help ensure the security and integrity of communication within a network:
By employing these protection mechanisms, individuals and organizations can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to on-path attacks. It’s crucial to stay vigilant about implementing security best practices and staying informed about emerging threats in order to maintain a robust defense against these types of attacks.
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