A session hijacking attack can be best defined as a successful attempt of an attacker to take over your web session. An attacker can impersonate an authorized user to gain access to a domain, server, website, web application, or network to which access is restricted through this type of attack.
Note that a session is created at the moment when you log in to a website and destroyed when you either log out or the specified time ends. It means that session hijacking can occur at any time during the lifetime of a session. Unlike spoofing and phishing attacks that can be tackled with a DMARC analyzer, session hijacking attacks need you to deploy other measures for prevention and protection.
Imagine a stranger transferring your money to his account, filling up the cart and paying with your credit card, or stealing your company’s sensitive data. Does it sound scary? Well, it is but don’t worry and read this article to learn more about session hijacking and its preventive methods. The better you understand it, the better you can deal with it!
How Does Session Hijacking Take Place?
A session hijacking attack occurs when someone manages to take over an active communication between two devices. They have a variety of ways of doing this, but one of the most common ones is called ARP poisoning. Let’s say you’re connected to your home network and browsing the web on your laptop—that means your computer has an IP address that makes it identifiable on your network, while still providing anonymity elsewhere. To make sure it stays anonymous, your laptop sends out regular “ping” messages outside of its network to see whether anyone else has the same IP address (and if they do, change its own). A session hijacking attack involves sending out fake messages that respond by saying “yes, I’m you.” That’s how a hacker can take over your session.
Session hijacking takes place in a variety of ways that have been discussed below in detail:
1. Man-in-the-browser Attack
The man-in-the-browser attack is a type of session hijacking that tricks you to install malware on your computer system. It is often done by asking you to click on a link. Once you click on the link, the malware is installed, and you are trapped. Next, the malware gets your session ID to get unauthorized access to the web service. The given approach is similar to the man-in-the-middle attack except for the Trojan insertion.
2. Brute Force
Another type of session hijacking attack is favored by weak and predictable session IDs on not-so-secure web services (websites that are not secured over an HTTPS-enabled connection). Thus, the attacker doesn’t need to make much effort to grab your session ID and leverage your web experience.
3. Session Side Jacking
In this stated session hijacking attack type, the attacker monitors the user’s network traffic by using a tactic called “packet sniffing”. It further helps in finding the session IDs and taking control over the web session of the user.
4. Cross-site Scripting
Cross-site scripting is another kind of session hijacking in which client-side scripts are injected into the web pages. The insertion of the given scripts is made easy due to the less secure spots on the webserver and helps the attackers in accessing the session keys. Consequently, the control of the web session is transferred to the attacker without notifying anyone.
5. Session Fixation
The session fixation attack is done by attackers who are clever and confident enough to send you an email to log in to a website through a link. Once you gain authenticated access to the website by using the same link, you hand over the access to the attacker. It seems like you came along with the attacker disguised as your friend and opened the lock of your treasure box to give him easy access.
Preventive Measures for Session Hijacking
Let the attackers try out more tricks while you ensure your security on the web. The following list of preventive measures will hold you back and protect you from falling prey to session hijacking:
Deploy MTA-STS to prevent SMTP email session hijacking
The Mail Transfer Agent-Strict Transport Security (MTA-STS) is an internet standard that ensures secure connections between the SMTP servers. Deploying MTA-STS will prevent man-in-the-middle attackers from intercepting and hijacking SMTP email communications, securing the transport layer, and encrypting SMTP mails in transit to restrict access.
If you have any doubts regarding MTA-STS, then give a read to our blog that covers the same topic by clicking on the linked text. You can also reach out to us at PowerDMARC for expert help against session hijacking. We’ll be more than happy to help you out and ensure that your online presence is safe enough and free from attackers.
Other measures you can take:
Ensure Site Security
The security of the websites that you visit is crucial for your online safety. Surprisingly, most reputable websites take care of your safety by hosting their sites on HTTPS-enabled servers and closing security loopholes. However, there still are many platforms that aren’t secure. It’s good practice to check if the website is secure before you make a transaction or enter your credit card details and personal information. Ensuring site security will help you in preventing session hijacking.
One way to protect against such attacks is by implementing a web application firewall (WAF). Adding a WAF to your organization’s security measures can help prevent session hijack attacks and add an additional layer of protection to your site.
Think Before You Click
Clicking on the links isn’t mandatory but a choice. Thus, if you aren’t sure about the authenticity of the link or the sender, then don’t click it because it might be a session hijacking attempt. Look, observe, and then click to steer clear of any online trouble.
Install Anti-virus and Firewalls on your system
There are incredible tools that will help you in detecting and removing viruses. You also get strong protection against malware attacks and ultimately, session hijacking. But don’t forget to keep your security software updated by turning on automatic updates to keep its protective shield effective.
[Learn more about DMARC vs anti-spam]
Say “No” To Public Wi-Fi or Use a Reliable VPN
Although the board signaling free Wi-Fi looks tempting at the ice cream parlor but it isn’t safe to use such a public network like such. You should avoid logging in to your social media or email accounts through public Wi-Fi. Also, making online payments through such networks is never recommended.
If you have to perform an urgent task or pay a bill, make sure you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN ensures an encrypted connection between you and the network you’re trying to access or use, thereby preventing session hijacking.
Session hijacking is an attack on the session IDs of the internet users to take control over the web sessions. It can be deployed using various sophisticated methods and tactics and may result in the loss of important data, money, assets, and the trust and dependability of the website or application. You can secure your online presence and fight against session hijacking by using the preventive measures discussed above.
Besides this, if your emails are constantly landing in your recipients’ spam folders and you can’t help them reach the inbox of your potential customers, create a free DMARC record with our DMARC record generator today to ensure smooth deliverability.
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