It’s everyone’s worst nightmare: sensitive, possibly vital information that only you and the intended recipient should have has somehow leaked to the public. You have no idea how they did it or how they gained access. But the information was thorough and exact – almost like you received the information and gave it away at the same time. Like someone had just looked over your shoulder while you were typing. That may have been exactly what happened – an ARP spoofing attack.
What is ARP spoofing?
While it’s a silly name, it’s one of the most potent ways cyber criminals can get in secure systems and wreak havoc. ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) relies on duplicating and rerouting incoming data and traffic supposed to be for IP into another computer – in this case, the hacker’s.
In simple terms, think of it as someone rerouting or piggybacking on your cable. You don’t know that they’ve done it, the cable company doesn’t know that it happened, but a third party is now benefitting from something that was only supposed to involve two parties.
ARP attacks usually target companies and enterprises, but anyone can be a victim of it. The victim doesn’t even need to do anything to be the victim of an ARP attack – the process can take place without them even knowing anything. But what exactly can an ARP attack do?
The primary point of ARP spoofing is to fool people into thinking that the attacker is the designated recipient while also fooling the actual receiver. This way, they get to eavesdrop and collect data coming in and out from everyone involved in a conversation. While acquiring and making copies of data is the most frequent use of ARP attacks, simply eavesdropping can also be very valuable to hackers.
Interfere with communications
A more extreme method used in an ARP spoofing attack is partially or completely disrupting communications. This can be done via denial-of-service attacks, hijacking of ongoing sessions and communication, or even modifying the data traffic of the victims. This can be a minor inconvenience at best and a complete shutdown of a system at worst.
What can you do to protect yourself?
The first thing that people can do to is to ensure that their security systems are up to date. Whether it be an antivirus program that can. Software from your computer is regularly updated by your OS provider, and there are other antivirus programs that also impose stricter security protocols to detect these kinds of attacks.
There is also software available online that is specifically developed to detect ARP spoofing alone. These programs monitor incoming and outgoing data, and certify that it’s not coming from a spoofing attack.
Lastly, make sure that your data is always encrypted with the proper security and authentication protocols. Things like making sure you visit a website with Transport Layer Security protocols ensure the authenticity of a website, and helps in keeping your data and communication secure.
ARP spoofs can be deadly if undetected. The first step to preventing this is awareness of what might be happening when you become a victim of such an attack – and the knowledge to act upon it when it does happen.
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