What is an Evil Twin Attack?
Don’t Be Fooled by an Evil Twin Attack
As technology continues to advance, so do the methods that hackers use to steal personal information. One of these methods is an evil twin attack, which involves a hacker creating a fake hotspot that mimics a legitimate network in order to steal sensitive data from unsuspecting users.
This type of malicious cybercrime targets wireless networks and unsuspecting users connected to it without their knowledge. Evil twin attacks are a form of a “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attack where a cybercriminal secretly intercepts and modifies the communication between two trusted parties. This is accomplished by positioning themselves between the two parties and listening in on their conversation.
Evil twin attacks are most common in public settings such as coffee shops, airports, and parks – any place where users rely on public Wi-Fi to stay connected. Let’s explore how evil twin attacks work, how to detect an evil twin Wi-Fi connection, and how to protect yourself from one.
How Do Evil Twin Attacks Work?
An evil twin attack is a type of wireless attack where a hacker creates a fake wireless access point (WAP), or Wi-Fi access point, which looks similar to a legitimate one in order to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card details, bank account information, or personal data.
Evil twins are surprisingly easy to set up, which makes them a huge risk for people using public Wi-Fi. Hackers set up an evil twin through a process that involves a few steps:
- Scouting: The hacker will first scout the targeted area to find a wireless network that they can imitate. They may use tools like Wi-Fi Pineapple, which are specifically designed for wireless penetration testing.
- Creating a fake WAP: Once a valid target has been identified, the hacker will create a fake WAP with a similar name and network characteristics to the original one. This is done using special software that allows the attacker to spoof the SSID and MAC address of the network.
- Broadcasting: After the creation of the fake WAP, the hacker will broadcast it with a strong signal to ensure that it is detected by all devices within range.
- Luring: The attacker then lures unsuspecting users to connect to the fake WAP by naming it something similar to the legitimate network, like “Free Wi-Fi.” The hacker may also offer higher bandwidth or any other attractive offer in the name of free or faster internet.
- Collecting: Once a victim connects to the fake WAP, the hacker can collect the user’s sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or browsing history. The hacker can also install malware on the user’s device to gain access to other valuable data.
Evil twin attacks can be difficult to detect because the fake WAP will often have the same name and look very similar to the legitimate one. Therefore, it is important to verify the legitimacy of a WAP before connecting to it, specifically when using public Wi-Fi.
How to Detect Evil Twin Wi-Fi Connections
To ensure the security of your personal information and devices, it is important to be aware of malicious “evil twins.” One way to detect evil twin Wi-Fi connections is to carefully examine the network name. Evil twins often use a similar name to that of a legitimate access point but with slight variations or misspellings. For example, instead of “StarbucksWiFi,” an evil twin may be named “StarbuckssWiFi” or “StarbucksFreeWiFi.” Always double-check the spelling and make sure it matches the official network name.
Another way to detect a fake captive portal is to look for security alerts on your device. Many modern devices will automatically detect and alert you to potential security risks when connecting to Wi-Fi networks. Such alerts may say that the network is unsecured, or that the network name has recently changed or is not recognized. Any such alerts should be taken seriously, and the network should not be connected to.
It is also important to be wary of open or unsecured networks that require no password to connect. These networks are often targeted by hackers looking to set up an evil twin network.
How to Prevent Evil Twin Attacks
Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself from an evil twin attack. One of the most important ways is to use a virtual private network (VPN) whenever you’re connecting to a Wi-Fi network that you’re not familiar with. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the internet, making it much more difficult for hackers to intercept your data.
Another important step is to make sure that you’re always using websites that employ HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This means that the website has an SSL certificate, which encrypts the data that is being sent between your device and the website’s servers. So, even if a hacker is able to intercept your data, they won’t be able to read it.
In addition, it’s a good idea to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks altogether if possible. Instead, consider using a personal hotspot to connect to the internet when you’re out and about. A personal hotspot creates a network that’s only accessible to your devices, which makes it much harder for hackers to intercept your data.
Finally, it’s a good idea to ensure that all of your online accounts are secured with two-factor authentication (2FA). This means that in addition to entering a password, you’ll also be asked to provide a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone. This makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts, even if they’ve managed to steal your passwords.
Cybersecurity Solutions from Everound
Everound is a managed IT services company specializing in cybersecurity services, IT consulting, network administration, help desk support, and other IT services. Our team of professionals has worked with large, enterprise organizations as well as small startup businesses to help them plan for and prepare for a cybersecurity threat.
One of the most important parts of a robust cybersecurity program is educating teams on how to stay alert of cybercrime including evil twin attacks. We can help you develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to keep your team – and your business – safe from cyber threats. We offer a free cybersecurity assessment that will help you understand where you may be vulnerable and can help you develop a plan to reduce your risk of a cyber threat. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.