What Is Session Hijacking, and How Can It Be Prevented?
Session hijacking is a technique used by hackers to gain access to a target’s computer or online accounts. In a session hijacking attack, a hacker takes control of a user’s browsing session to gain access to their personal information and passwords. This article will explain what session hijacking is, how it works, and how to prevent it from happening.
How Does Session Hijacking Work?
A session hijacker can take control of a user’s session in several ways. One common method is to use a packet sniffer to intercept the communication between the user and the server, which allows the hacker to see what information is being sent and received. They can then use this information to log in to the account or access sensitive data.
Session hijacking can also be performed by deploying malware to infect the user’s computer. This gives the hacker direct access to the machine, enabling them to then hijack any active sessions.
What Are the Different Types of Session Hijacking?
Session hijacking can be either active or passive. In active session hijacking, the attacker takes control of the target’s session while it is still active. The attacker does this by sending a spoofed request to the server that includes the target’s session ID. This type of attack is more challenging to execute because it requires the attacker to have an OnPath (also known as “man-in-the-middle”) position between the target and the server.
Passive session hijacking occurs when the attacker eavesdrops on network traffic to steal the target’s session ID. This type of attack is easier to execute because all an attacker needs is access to network traffic, which can be easily accomplished if they are on the same network as the target.
How to Prevent Session Hijacking
There are several ways to prevent session hijacking from happening:
- Use strong passwords and multifactor authentication. These techniques protect accounts from being accessed by hackers if they manage to steal a user’s session ID (Alkove, 2021).
- Only share session IDs with trusted sources. Be careful when sharing links or sending requests to websites, as these may include session IDs.
- Use a VPN. A VPN helps prevent attackers from intercepting traffic, making it more difficult for them to steal session IDs (McCann & Hardy, 2022).
- Keep software up to date. Make sure to keep operating systems and software up to date with the latest security patches to prevent attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities to access users’ sessions.
- Take cybersecurity training. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, so it’s essential to stay informed on the latest attack techniques and how to prevent them. Consider getting certified in various cybersecurity domains, including ethical hacking, incident handling, and penetration testing.
The Dangers of Session Hijacking Attacks
There are many risks associated with not taking steps to prevent session hijacking. Some of these dangers include:
- Theft of personal information. Session hijacking can give hackers access to confidential information, including passwords and credit card numbers, leading to identity theft or financial fraud.
- Malware infection. If a hacker can steal a user’s session ID, they may also be able to infect the user’s computer with malware (Marino, 2021). This can allow them to gain control of the target’s computer and steal their data.
- Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks. A hacker who gains control of a user’s session could launch a DoS attack against the website or server to which they’re connected, disrupting service or causing the site to crash.
Prevent Cyberattacks as a Certified Ethical Hacker
With the increase in cyberattacks, it is more important than ever for cybersecurity professionals to have the skills and knowledge to protect organizations from these threats. The cybersecurity industry is growing rapidly, and those learning the latest hacking techniques and strategies have many future career paths. There are many job opportunities available in this field, and the demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals is expected to continue to grow.
For those interested in a career in cybersecurity, EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) certification is a great place to start. The ANSI-accredited C|EH credential validates an individual’s ability to identify, assess, and mitigate threats to organizations. One of the most popular ethical hacking certifications, it is recognized by government agencies and companies worldwide. Visit EC-Council’s website for more information on the C|EH program and EC-Council’s many other cybersecurity courses.
Alkove, J. (2021, January 29). Nail the basics of cybersecurity with multifactor authentication (MFA). Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/01/29/nail-the-basics-of-cybersecurity-with-multifactor-authentication-mfa/
Marino, V. (2021, May 20). Ransomware 2.0: How malware has evolved and where it’s heading. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/05/20/ransomware-20-how-malware-has-evolved-and-where-its-heading/
McCann, M., & Hardy, A. (2022, January 25). 9 reasons why everyone should use a VPN. Yes, even non-techies. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/software/why-use-a-vpn/