This article is about Session Hijacking and the ways to prevent it. But before we proceed with it, let me first tell you what a Session is. The total time you devote to your internet activity is called a Session. A session starts as soon as you log into a website or a service and ends when you end the connection or shut down your computer system. All your internet activity details are stored in a session temporarily.
What is Session Hijacking?
When a Session is a time when you are on the internet, Session hijacking means an attack over your internet session and the most common example one can give here is that, when you are using internet banking to check your bills or to do some transaction, an attacker can take over your internet session and hijack it. Session hijacking is usually done using web applications or browser sessions. A session hijacker can get complete access to your session and can do anything you could do on that website.
Let’s learn about a few more examples of Session Hijacking so that you can avoid them.
How does Session Hijacking work?
Session Hijacking can be done in three different types –
- Active hijacking,
- Passive hijacking, and
- Hybrid hijacking.
In the Active session hijacking, the attacker attacks your active internet connection, which means, hijacking your internet session while you are logged in and the other is passive session hijacking wherein the attacker monitors your session and steals the information exchanged between you and the server. In a hybrid hijack, the attackers monitor the network session and then attack as soon as they find the way.
Types of Session Hijacking Attacks
- Brute attack – In this type of Brute attack session hijacking, the attacker guesses your session ID and gains access. This usually happens when the website has the easy-to-guess session keys.
- Malicious links – The attackers send you the Malicious links via emails that install the malware on your machine. This malware then shares your session cookie with the attackers letting them hijack your session.
- Cross-site scripting – Here the attacker uses the weak security spots in a website or the server and injects their own scripts into the webpage. These custom scripts then make your browser reveal the session key and the attackers take over your session.
- Session side jacking – In this hijack, the cybercriminals try to access your network traffic. An unsecured Wi-Fi makes it easier for attackers to intrude. They keep monitoring your internet session and attack as soon as they get your session cookie through your network.
- Session fixing – Here the attackers create and send you a new session ID with a login link, via email. They trick you to start a session using that link and as soon as you click and login using that link, they can hijack your session.
Examples of Sessions Hijacking.
- You get an email saying that you have won a lottery and prompting you to click on a link to claim your prize. The attackers include their own session key to this link and as soon as you click on the link, you will grant him access to your session.
- When you log in to your bank account or credit card to make a purchase or check the balance, the attackers can attack your ongoing session, kick you out of the session and take over. They can then access your bank account.
- The zoom bombing was quite in headlines in the covid times when people were taking their meetings and classes on the zoom application. It was also an example of session hijacking. Such hijacks happen due to a lack of security keys and weak passwords.
How can you Prevent Session Hijacking?
Session Hijacking undoubtedly is one of the most common cyber-crime and is pretty scary too, but we can certainly prevent it with some simple measures. These attacks can really bring some terrible consequences for business organizations including data theft, financial losses, and much more.
Don’t click on the malicious links
As we can see most of the attacks happen through malicious links, the best way to prevent these attacks is to be watchful and check if a doubtful link is safe or not. The attackers use very catchy and tempting phrases like, click on this link to claim your prize or they may try to scare you by saying, Is this you in this video, to trick you but you should not click on any link until it is from a verified and legitimate sender.
Organizations can add certain encryptions to avoid such session hijacking on their official websites and accounts. Certificates like SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) safeguard your data online and also make your internet connectin secure enough for the attackers to enter.
Use HTTPS and not HTTP
HTTPS (Hypertext transfer protocol secure) is a better and more secure version of HTTP. Especially the websites that require login details. HTTPS makes sure that the website has the SSL and TLS certification throughout the session and ensures the increased security of data transfer. Also, popular web browsers like Google Chrome flag all the non-HTTPS websites as unsafe, and you get a warning message too.
Keep the System Updated
Make sure that your PC and the operating system are updated regularly. Protect your PC from viruses by using good antivirus software. Also, keep updating and patching your web browsers on a regular basis.
Log out Carefully
Make sure that you log out of all your active internet sessions after you are done with the work there. While most of the banking websites end the session automatically at a set time, you should also log out of the shopping websites when not in use.
This is actually the best thing you can do to avoid session hijacking. Avoid using public WiFi and public computers, especially to access your banking websites or any website that requires your login credentials. If you have to use public WiFi, make a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to make sure that no one intrudes.
How is a Session hijacked?
A session is said to be hijacked when an attacker intrudes in your session and takes full control. The attackers most of the time impersonate themselves like you and steal all your important data stored on the webserver.
Read: Internet Security article and tips for Windows users
Does VPN prevent Session Hijacking?
Yes, a VPN established the internet connection through a private tunnel and hides your IP address. It also keeps your internet activity secret making it almost impossible for the attackers to intrude.