Not all cyber attacks involve a hacker directly connecting to your device or network. Some of them involve a hacker leveraging an existing connection. Known as a Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) cyber attacks, they are problematic for business owners because of their potential to cause a data breach. If you regularly use the internet as part of your business’s daily operations, you should beware of MITM cyber attacks.

The Basics of MITM Cyber Attacks

MITM cyber attacks are characterized by their discreet nature. They are called “man-in-the-middle” cyber attacks because they involve a hacker snooping on a victim’s connection with another device. The hacker taps into the victim’s connection, at which point he or she can see — as well as steal — data sent from and received by the victim.

The Dangers of MITM Cyber Attacks

Most MITM cyber attacks are carried out with the intention of stealing the victim’s data. If you visit a website, for instance, that requires you to enter your username and password, a hacker may steal your login credentials during a MITM attack. As you enter your username and password, the hacker will record this information. After the attack has occurred, the hacker will then be able to access your online account.

Alternatively, MITM attacks can result in a malware infection. Instead of just snooping on your connection, a hacker may use your existing connection to send you malware. If you try to download a legitimate file from a website, for example, the hacker behind the MITM attack may replace the file with malware. Therefore, you’ll unknowingly download malware that infects your device instead of the legitimate file.

How to Protect Against MITM Cyber Attacks

You can protect against MITM cyber attacks when browsing and using the internet by selectively using secure website. Secure websites are denoted by their use of HTTPS. When you connect to a website over an HTTPS connection, all your data will be encrypted. Therefore, even if a hacker is able to access your connection, he or she won’t be able to identify or otherwise read your incoming or outgoing data.

Along with visiting secure websites, using a firewall can protect against MITM attacks. A firewall will filter potentially malicious traffic using rules. If a hacker accesses your connection and attempts to use it to deploy malware, the firewall may block it. Along with visiting secure websites, a firewall can protect you from MITM cyber attacks.