What Are Replay Attacks? Counteracting Cyber Threats
By Janne Smith 6 minutes
Suppose you have a secret code for unlocking a magical door. A sneaky individual observes you using the code and notices it. They later use the same code to open the door and grab your toys.
That’s how a replay attack works; in this man-in-the-middle attack, someone replicates what you did earlier to deceive a system into allowing them to do things they shouldn’t, for example, someone texting you with the account of a close friend of yours. Scary, right? But how do you prevent replay attacks?
Delving deeper, here’s all you need to know about replay attacks, their dangers, and their mitigation tips. Let’s dive in!
Got a Lot on Your Plate? Here’s a Quick Read
- Replay attacks use data duplication to trick systems.
- Important safeguards include strong encryption, timestamps, and special passwords.
- Reliable VPNs like FastestVPN protect replay assaults.
- Some common examples of attack types are HTTP, network, wireless, and session replays.
What We Will Be Covering
- What Is Meant by Replay Attacks?
- What Is Replay Attack vs DDoS Attack?
- Why Are Replay Attacks Dangerous?
- What Are the Types of Replay Attacks?
- How to Stop Replay Attacks?
What Is Meant by Replay Attacks?
A replay attack happens when a cybercriminal listens in on a secure network transmission, intercepts it, and deliberately freezes or resends it to misdirect the receiver.
The added risk of replay attacks arises because the attacker needs to have any technical abilities to decrypt a communication once it has been captured from the network. Resending the entire thing could make the attack successful.
What Is Replay Attack vs DDoS Attack?
While a replay attack is the false replaying of a data communication to get authentication.
It can be referred to as a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) if it uses numerous computers.
To differentiate between both, let’s first learn about both these types of attacks.
A replay attack is caused by replicating your access information for a specific account. In simpler words, they know your phone’s pattern and unlock it whenever they want.
Conclusively, it’s the replication of the unique identification code you use.
Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)
A DDoS attack is where malicious actors freeze or crash a system to block access to a certain resource. As continuous request accesses are sent through the network, jamming the system you’re trying to access.
Here’s the difference–a replay attack is imitating or copying access information for accessing a resource. A DDoS attack crashes the system and makes the user unable to access it.
Why Are Replay Attacks Dangerous?
Replay attacks pose a significant risk because the hacker is not required to decode the message they are transmitting. However, they can deceive the recipient into thinking the communication they got is genuine.
Referring to that, 65% of US individuals mention receiving online scam offers at least once. To further get an idea about how a replay attack works to understand the risks it invites, let’s take a replay attacks example:
Think up a scenario where you’re using your preferred app to pay for a $30 purchase. A hacker replicates the transaction after the payment has been made but changes the recipient’s information. You unwittingly confirm when you see the transaction again, and the money goes to the hacker. This shows the fundamental concept of replay assaults.
Real-world situations are more complicated a replay attacks example, especially since replay assaults are a possibility for encrypted conversations—the reason why, every day, around 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked.
What Are the Types of Replay Attacks?
Commonly, there are 4 types of replay attacks:
- HTTP Replay Attack
- Network Replay Attack
- Wireless Replay Attack
- Session Replay Attack
HTTP Replay Attack
Replaying an HTTP request entails sending it twice with the request’s body modified. Testers use iterative approaches and different tools like ZAP and many others to investigate server answers.
This type of HTTP request back-and-forth communication is sometimes compared to a replay attack, where changes and repeats are performed to gauge and evaluate the system’s behavior.
Network Replay Attack
In this, an attacker intercepts a legitimate network signal and later resends it. The main objective is to fool the system into believing this retransmitted data is real. Because it might be hard to identify replay assaults, they are incredibly harmful.
Wireless Replay Attack
In this type, the hacker intercepts the wireless network and records a wireless communication—for example, Bluetooth or WiFi signals. The purpose is to manipulate a wireless system and portray the replayed data as authentic.
Session Replay Attack
This type involves detecting the user’s unique session ID, generally saved as a cookie, URL parameter, or form entry and obtained by intercepting a session. Once gained, the attacker can use the information to pretend to be a genuine user, giving them full access to all website functions.
How to Stop Replay Attacks?
While the general cost of data breaches caused by stolen credentials in 2022 was $4.50 million – people are now looking for ways to stop cyber attacks. And utilizing efficient encryption methods is essential for protecting against such assaults.
Use a Trusted VPN
You can protect your device from replay attacks by using an efficient VPN, like FastestVPN. For example, a wireless replay attack can be effortlessly mitigated by switching to another server, such as the US. This will encrypt all your online activities and keep you away from malicious attacks like these.
Create Random Session Keys
The “keys” encoded in encrypted communications can be used to decode the message content at the recipient’s end. The attacker’s capacity to read or comprehend the key of the intercepted communication loses importance in the context of a replay attack. They must record the transmission, including the message and its corresponding key, and then transmit it again.
To mitigate this danger, both sender and receiver must create a completely random session key, a one-time-only code that cannot be reused.
Include a Timestamp for All Communications
Further safeguarding against such assaults is to include timestamps in every communication. This approach prevents hackers from resending communications sent after a specific period, limiting the window in which an attacker may intercept, capture, and reproduce the message.
Using different passwords for each transaction, using them just once, and then deleting them is an alternative strategy to avoid being a victim. This ensures that the encryption key will become outdated and useless even if an attacker catches and repeats the communication.
FAQs - Replay Attacks
Does VPN prevent replay attacks?
Only a reliable VPN can help you prevent replay attacks, such as FastestVPN. Using it allows you to create a safe and secure network where communications aren't under constant threat of getting intercepted or leaked. Moreover, other impressive features, such as AES 256-bit encryption, Internet Kill switch, and the WireGuard protocol, make it the best VPN for replay attack prevention.
How to prevent replay attacks with timestamps?
To further defend against such attacks, messages should contain timestamps. This strategy limits the window in which an attacker may intercept, capture, and repeat the message by forbidding hackers from sending signals again after a specific amount of time has passed.
What is an example of a replay attack?
A prime replay attacks example can be this. Imagine using your favorite app to buy a concert ticket for $50. After you've successfully made the payment, a hacker duplicates the transaction but alters the receiver's details. When you encounter the transaction a second time, you unknowingly approve it, and the money is redirected to the hacker instead of the concert ticket seller.
How does TLS prevent replay attacks?
Messages using TLS security frequently include a counter or timestamp. This safeguard stops attackers from intercepting a TLS message and transmitting it again over the active connection.
As far as the previous year, 39% of UK companies said they had experienced a cyberattack – replay attack being one of them. The reason why mitigating these attacks is crucial.
One of the top methods of preventing a replay attack is using a reliable VPN, like FastestVPN. It helps you change your IP address and keep your network secure.