Word Notes 2.7.23
Ep 134 | 2.7.23

Man-in-the-Middle (noun)


Rick Howard: The word is: Man-in-the-Middle

Rick Howard: Spelled: Man as in a person or a device, and in-the-middle as in an intermediary between two points of communication. 

Rick Howard: Definition: A cyber attack technique where adversaries intercept communications between two parties in order to collect useful information or to sabotage or corrupt the communication in some manner.

Rick Howard: Example sentence: While most attacks go through wired networks or Wi-Fi, it's also possible to conduct Man-in-the-Middle attacks with fake cellphone towers. 

Rick Howard: Origin and context: It's unclear when the first documented electronic Man-in-the-Middle attack occurred, but it's likely that it happened in the early 1980s. Since then there have been different versions of the technique used in the wild. The classic is the infamous wifi attack, where a hackers might sit in a popular Starbucks coffee house and capture customer network traffic in order to steal credentials. 

Rick Howard: Other variations on the theme include DNS spoofing or DNS cache poisoning, browser based session hijacking, ARP cache poisoning, and IP spoofing. One real world example comes from Ben Buchanan's cybersecurity Canon candidate book, "The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics," where he describes the NSA's tactic of patching into Google's underwater fiber cables and spoofing SSL encryption certificates in order to collect intelligence on all of Google's users. 

Rick Howard: Nerd reference: In the classic 1983 hacker movie War Games, David played by a young Matthew Broderick, finds himself held captive under Cheyenne Mountain, the home of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, you know, for reasons the Air Force military police Sergeant locks him in a doctor's office. But since it's the 1980s, the door has electronic lock. Broderick finds a cassette tape recorder in the office, tricks the guard into punch the key code into the door, records the sounds, and then later plays back the sounds to unlock the door.

Ally Sheedy: I don't think I have the right program.

Matthew Broderick: Excuse me. What do you want? 

Matthew Broderick: Bathroom. It's a long ride to Denver. 

Matthew Broderick: Please, let me talk to Mr. McKittrick. I gotta talk to him. 

Male Guard: Look, you're not supposed to talk to anybody. The FBI will be here any minute now do you have to take a leak or not?

Rick Howard: Classic man in the middle attack. 

Rick Howard: Word Notes is written by Tim Nodar, executive produced by Peter Kilpe and edited by John Petrik, and me, Rick Howard. The mix, sound design, and original music have all been crafted by the ridiculously talented Elliott Peltzman. Thanks for listening.