When it comes to threats to your company’s sensitive data and information, it’s important to be aware of the different ways that your network can be compromised. Often, threats to your security come from the inside – not necessarily because of any intentional wrongdoing on the part of your employees, but because your workers may be targeted by outsider attacks. Man-in-the-middle attacks are one way that employees can be targeted. Take a look at what you need to know about man-in-the-middle attacks and how you can guard against them.
What is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack?
Once a worker discovers that they’ve been duped by a fake website, it may be too late.
When you type a URL address into your browser, you expect to be taken to a specific website. But what if instead of the website you were expecting, you were brought to a convincing fake version of the same site? That’s essentially what happens in a man-in-the-middle attack.
Essentially, the attacker overrides the Domain Name System (DNS) that is supposed to tell your browser where to go to find the website that you’re trying to access. The site that you actually wind up at can look and act just like the site that you’re looking for – and may even share information with the correct site, if it’s a sophisticated fake – but the false site records the information that you input and allows the person who took over the DNS to access that information. So, if you put bank account numbers into a fake site during a man-in-the-middle attack, the attacker would have those account numbers.
Preventing Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
Although man-in-the-middle attacks are instigated from the outside, it’s workers who fall for them who end up putting the information into false sites and compromise company data. Preventing this from happening is key to protecting your business from these attacks.
One simple way to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks is to make sure that your employees are trained to use https:// instead of https:// when they type in URLs. The “s” indicates that the connection between your browser and the website is secure. While man-in-the-middle attacks are sometimes possible even when https:// protocol is used, they’re very rare.
It can also help to keep computer systems, browsers, and apps updated. Software is routinely updated to shore up vulnerabilities that allow man-in-the-middle and other attacks to happen. Staying updated ensures that your computers and devices are always as secure as they can be. An IT professional can also configure your devices to only use DNS servers that have already been identified as safe.
How Employee Monitoring Can Help Prevent Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
Strong monitoring can help ensure that necessary security settings stay in place.
It’s tampering with device configurations that can often lead to successful man-in-the-middle attacks on company devices. Employees may be tempted to change security settings for convenience, or in order to access personal sites that are blocked on the company network, or simply because they don’t understand the purpose of the security settings. This can leave computers unprotected and allow an outside attack to get through.
Software can keep you apprised of potentially dangerous changes to security settings on devices used on your network. Spotting attempts to make these kinds of changes can help you ensure that your company’s devices remain secure and that employees who are careless about security settings are retrained or disciplined.
For more information about how you can protect your company’s data from cyber attacks, take an online test drive.