What is session hijacking?
When you connect your device to the internet and start browsing, the transfer of data between your device and the internet. Let’s say you log into a medical website to check on your health insurance. The moment you log-in, complete your research and log-out, everything in between is determined through the cookies. The website identifies your IP address and assigns it with a cookie.
Now, you may notice that if you don’t log out and come back to the website various times, it doesn’t ask you to lo-gin and takes you straight away to the previous activity. This is due to the assigned cookie to your IP address. The website remembers your IP address.
Now, let’s say that a hacker is able to steal or hack your assigned cookies. They will then be able to spoof the website into thinking that you are the one coming back to the website and they will show the previous activities as well as your data to the hackers. This is known as “session hijacking”
What are the types of session hijacking?
The following are some of the commonly used types of session hijacking:
Active hijacking is when a hacker overcomes the visited website using your cookies and in return prevents you from accessing the same website. You won’t be able to log into the website and the hacker will be able to make purchases, carry on transactions or simply copy your data without you knowing about it.
Passive hijacking is when the hacker doesn’t prevent you from logging into the website but instead, analyze your online activity. He/she can then use the chance to record your data and later use it to either sell it to data vendors or cause you harm.
How does session hijacking happen?
These are the most commonly used methods to hijack your session;
Spoofing your IP:
In this method, the hackers mask their data packets IP address to look like yours. This way, whenever they log into a website often visited by you, the website allows the hacker to get into your account thinking it’s you instead of the hacker.
Hackers can use malware to be installed on your device. Once the malware is installed, it can automatically redirect you to spoofed websites where hackers are able to steal your data.
In session fixation, a hacker normally convinces you (through phishing schemes) to click on some link that is able to set your IP address for a specific website. This way, when you log into that particular website, your session is hijacked.
In this method, the hackers try to find loopholes in unsecured websites. Once they find such flaws, they take advantage of it by injecting malicious code into the script, thus compromising your session and data, whenever you visit the website.
How do you prevent session hijacking?
- You should always try to avoid using public Wifi services. They are the most prone to hacking attempts and can easily compromise your security and data.
- Always look out for websites that are not secured by HTTPS. You can identify it by noticing if there is a lock sign in the URL of the website or not.
- Never download software tools from unauthentic sources.
- Don’t open suspicious emails or links.
- Always use a VPN and/or anti-malware tool.