“There are Cyber Threats out there, this is a Dangerous World, and we have to be Safe, we have to be Secure, no matter the Cost” - Edward Snowden
The increasing reliance on the virtual world has only accelerated the magnitude and frequency of threats posed to the real world.
While there are many different kinds of Cyber Attacks; ARP Spoofing has evolved as a serious form of threat which not only results in leakage of sensitive information, but can facilitate additional forms of attack.
However, before we try to answer the question of what is the aim of an ARP Spoofing attack; it is important to understand the concept of an ARP attack itself.
👉If you wish to read more on other such malicious form of Cyber Attacks such as Clickjacking, do read our blog on “What is Clickjacking?”
In order to facilitate communication over a LAN (Local Area Network), it is important to associate the elements of the IP (Internet Protocol) Addresses with the physical permanent address of the machine which is a party to the communication process.
This is where the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) comes into the picture. ARP can be perceived of as a network protocol which helps in translating IP addresses into a MAC (Media Access Control) address and vice-versa, through sending ARP request packets.
ARP acts as the medium which helps the devices to forge connection with the router and eventually connect to the Internet. However, the issue of an ARP Spoofing Attack arises when these ARP attacks are hijacked or intercepted by hackers.
👉In this blog, we shall try to answer the question of what is ARP Spoofing as well as try to look at the different dimensions of an ARP Spoofing Attack. Additionally, we shall also consider some important issues like: ARP Spoofing Prevention Strategies, ways to set up a robust ARP Spoofing Defense mechanism, ARP Spoofing Detection Tactics as well as look at the different ARP Spoofing Tools.
What is ARP Spoofing?
ARP Spoofing Attacks have been facilitated through an unintentional shortcoming of the very mechanism of ARP. The ARP protocol was introduced way back in 1982; however, since security was not such a huge concern, the protocol did not involve any mechanism for validating or authenticating ARP messages.
This implies that any device on the LAN can respond to an ARP request. This lacuna is exploited by Cyber Criminals and form the crux of ARP Spoofing.
ARP Spoofing or ARP Poisoning can be seen as a form of the Man in the Middle Attack (MitM) as it permits the hacker to intercept communication between two devices within a network.
In the first place, the attacker must have access to the specific Local Area Network (LAN). They perform network scanning in order to acquire the IP addresses of minimum two devices within the network.
Next, they make use of a particular ARP Spoofing Tool in order to send out illegitimate ARP requests. These ARP packets are meant to convey the wrong message that the correct MAC address for the two IP addresses is the one belonging to the device of the attacker.
Since, there is no security layer in between; the two devices whose IP addresses had been acquired, end up connecting with the attacker’s device, instead of with each other.
By way of this unintentional connection, the attacker acquires access to all communication between the two devices.
Types of ARP Spoofing Attack
It is important to remember that in order to initiate ARP Spoofing or ARP Poisoning Attacks, a hacker can either wait to receive ARP requests and provide a response or can himself send out unsolicited ARP requests.
The second method has a far greater impact and affects a large number of victims. The act of ARP Spoofing can itself take the form of different types of Cyber Attacks.
- Man in the Middle (MitM) Attack
As the name suggests, ARP Spoofing allows the attacker to position himself in the middle of a communication between any two devices.
By way of responding to the malicious ARP request sent by the attacker; the victim devices end up populating their ARP cache with the MAC address of the attacker, essentially falling victim to an ARP cache poisoning attack.
Consequently, the network traffic is then directed from the targeted device to the attacker’s machine. The ARP Spoofing Tool aids the attacker in stealing or altering information before it is sent to the intended destination.
- Session Hijacking
In this case, instead of modifying information and then forwarding the message to the intended destination; attackers perform a different role.
Hackers steal specific pieces of information such as web cookie, session ID, TCP sequence number and so on, which helps them in falsely assuming the identity of the victim.
This in turn helps them in acquiring access to private systems such as the social media account of the victim.
- Denial of Service (DoS) Attack
As the name suggests, the objective of this type of Cyber Attack is to prevent a device from performing its designated function. This can happen when a machine is overwhelmed by excess traffic. When a hacker sends out an ARP request, they can cause several IP addresses to link to a single MAC address which results in ARP flooding. This results in hampering the performance of all the devices within a particular network.
What is the Aim of an ARP Spoofing Attack?
It is evident that ARP Spoofing is another malicious form of Cyber Attack. The purpose of the same is clearly wicked and evil. In this section, we will look at some of the supposed objectives of an ARP Spoofing Attack.
- ARP Spoofing can facilitate spying on, dropping or modifying traffic. This is caused when false ARP messages adopt the form of a default getaway for a specific subnet. This results in directing all the traffic to the attacker’s device.
- One of the goals of ARP Spoofing is espionage. In order to serve such an objective, the intercepted message is pried upon by the attacker, but is eventually forwarded to the intended destination.
- When an ARP Spoofing Attack takes place in the form of a DoS Attack, it is essentially caused with the goal of disrupting the operation of the entire network which is targeted.
- Since one of the criteria for rendering an ARP Spoofing Attack successful is that the attacker must have access to the Local Area Network; ARP Spoofing increases the threat of Insider Attacks.