We all read the headlines; ransomware attacks are on the rise. But, due in large part to the normalization of permanent remote and hybrid work, an original cyberattack has resurged – man-in-the-middle attacks.

What is a man-in-the-middle attack?

Imagine an executive at your company is attending a trades how. At the event, she connects to what appears as a legitimate public Wi-Fi network using a personal device. What she doesn’t know is that the Wi-Fi connection is a spoofed network. Anyone can listen in. Her network traffic can now be viewed and analyzed or rerouted to malicious websites for credential theft.

This is a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack.

Indeed, unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks are an attacker’s dream. They make it incredibly easy for a malicious actor to hijack communications and intercept data. All they need is a wireless router called a WiFi Pineapple (readily available on Amazon for $100) and minimal technical knowledge to breach or eavesdrop on computing devices. Further, this same setup can also be used to easily spoof someone’s home network from right outside their front door.

Yet, despite the warnings from security professionals, most of us are unaware of the potential risks involved when logging on to public WiFi networks, or that their home network is vulnerable to outside attack.

How are man-in-the-middle attacks perpetrated?

Many techniques are used to initiate a MITM attack. An attacker may gain control of a public Wi-Fi network or create a free unencrypted Wi-Fi connection. When a person mistakenly connects to the spoofed network, attackers can intercept browsing activity and redirect victims to malicious websites – even though the sites look the same as a legitimate site – and capture log-in credentials, financial information, and more.

This information can then be used to initiate identity theft, account takeover, VIP impersonation, and unauthorized financial transfers.

The main-in-the-middle risk to corporate assets

MITM attacks also have wider ramifications for the corporate network.

When an executive uses a work or personal device, or connects from their home network, to access corporate resources – as they often do – the attacker can eavesdrop on those communications. They can also intercept confidential information, and potentially access company systems.

MITM attacks are hard to detect and prevent, making them a nightmare scenario for any CISO. After all, the security teams have no control over what an executive does with their personal devices and Wi-Fi networks they connect to. VPNs can help, but would need to implement strict security requirements to prevent sophisticated MITM hacks. Meanwhile, tips and tricks typically focus on educating users on what to look at, such as misspellings, unnecessary capitalization and erroneous number sequences (ex: FreeATLAirport vs. FreeATLairPort123) for or encouraging them to heed warning messages like “This network is not secure.”

BlackCloak thwarts man-in-the-middle attacks – before they happen

BlackCloak has introduced a proactive, defense-first feature to thwart man-in-the-middle attacks. Security teams can no longer afford to have blind faith in the cybersecurity manners of your executives,

The BlackCloak app can now detect malicious Wi-Fi networks by continuously analyzing network connectivity on mobile devices.  When rogue network behavior is detected, the executive will receive an urgent notification. The message will prompt them to immediately disconnect before the attacker can compromise their device and/or network traffic. This requires no action on the part of the SOC.

When implemented as part of a layered security approach, that includes VPNs, the BlackCloak app thwarts man-in-the-middle attacks and is the perfect complement to BlackCloak’s other concierge cybersecurity and privacy services, including our deception technology.

Learn more about our Man-In-the-Middle feature and our entire Concierge Cybersecurity and Privacy Platform here.