The fact that almost any network or computer session is vulnerable to session hijacking should give pause to everyone. While these forms of cyberattacks typically happen to web applications and browser session, they do also rely on knowing the cookie session of the victim which is also called cookie side-jacking or cookie hijacking. Many often find out about a session hijacking after the fact and once breached, put defense systems in place. This condition leaves the victim and the victim’s server in a crisis condition.
To achieve a successful session hijacking the criminal needs to know the victim’s session key or session ID. This is typically obtained by sending the victim a malicious link that they click on, which then adds a prepared session ID and the criminal is not only accepted in the session but is already authenticated with the user’s original session.
Once inside the network, an attacker has access to any/all functions and data of the original user that authenticated the session. The abilities of the cybercriminal are dependent upon what type of session they have entered and the application. In the case of a banking session, the criminal could transfer funds from the user’s account to their own account. The criminal can act to purchase items in an online web store, steal proprietary information from a company, get detailed personal information for identity theft, perform an encryption on data and demand a ransom to decrypt (ransomware) and any kind of devious actions that could benefit the cybercriminal financially.
For large organizations often use “cookies” to identify authenticated users in SSO (single sign-on systems). The danger in this is that when a cybercriminal successfully accomplishes a session hijack, it can give them access to multiple applications. This danger means that the criminal may now tap into financial records, customer information, intellectual property, or any other area of the network that the original authenticated user has. The protection against session hijackers is completely dependent upon the security of the company network.
There are similar risks for individual users when they access outside systems to log into some applications. However, some online systems such as Google or Facebook have implemented additional safeguards when a user logs into their account so that the authentication session cookie isn’t usually long enough to successfully hijack the session.
Prevention Through Mitigation
Defending a network against session hijacking means that a company must implement high level security measures at both the network and application levels. For the network, hijacking can be prevented through the use of “ciphering” the packets so that there isn’t any way for the cybercriminal to decipher the headers in the packet and then get the data that helps in the spoofing process. There are protocols that can be set in place such as IPSEC, SSL, SSH, etc. for encryption. IPSEC (Internet security protocol) also has the power to encrypt the packet on some shared keys in communication between two parties. Companies can use HTTPS to ensure SSL/TLS encryption for all session traffic. Individual users outside of a business environment can help to reduce their risk by using some basic safety rules for their online activities.
“Our world is driven by online technologies and as we continue to place so much of the responsibility of our daily lives online, cybercriminals will also step up to try to steal all that they can. Da Vinci Forensics maintains up to the minute information on cybercriminals and the types of tools that they use for cyber theft. We specialize in assisting individuals and companies in creating a safe environment to defend against session hijacking.”
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