What Is Eavesdropping: How To Prevent It?

What Is Eavesdropping: How To Prevent It?

10 mins read5.6K Views Comment
Anshuman
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content
Updated on Sep 14, 2023 15:07 IST

Eavesdropping, a covert act of listening in on private conversations, poses a significant threat to our privacy and security. By gaining unauthorized access to sensitive information, attackers can exploit vulnerabilities and compromise our personal and professional lives. Understanding eavesdropping techniques and implementing robust security measures are crucial in safeguarding our confidential conversations from prying ears. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and protect your privacy. Let’s understand!

2022_08_Your-paragraph-text-3.jpg

According to my knowledge and understanding, a cyberattack happens whenever a deliberate and malicious attempt is made to bypass an individual’s or organization’s information system. While most attacks have an economic goal, some common attacks aim to destroy and breach the data as their primary goal. One such attack is Eavesdropping!

So, the next question that must have occurred to you is, “What is Eavesdropping?” Before I answer this question, let’s go over the topics we’ll be discussing in this blog:

What is Eavesdropping Attack? 

Before jumping to the definition or understanding what an eavesdropping attack is? Let’s first look at the history of this term and what it used to represent in the old days. Previously, eavesdroppers hung themselves from a building’s eave to hear what was said inside. And this whole act was named eavesdropping.

You can also explore: What is cybersecurity?

As a result, in the digital world, eavesdropping can be defined as a type of man-in-the-middle attack in which an individual intercepts, deletes, or modifies data being transmitted in real time between two devices. A phone call, instant message, video chat, fax transmission, and so on are all examples of data. To explain this in layman’s terms: Eavesdropping is listening in on other people’s conversations without their knowledge. This type of attack is also known as sniffing or snooping.

Aggressors can employ a variety of strategies when eavesdropping. One of the most basic strategies is to use a listening device to monitor conversations and organizational activity. Eavesdropping can also occur when you share data on an open network without secured or encrypted traffic. The data is transmitted over an open network, allowing an attacker to exploit and intercept a vulnerability using various methods such as transmission links, pickup devices, etc. We will be discussing these methods in the next section.

Eavesdropping attacks are sinister because they are challenging to detect. Once you connect to an unprotected and encrypted network, you may unknowingly provide sensitive information to an attacker, such as passwords, account numbers, PAN, aadhaar no., etc.

You can also explore: What is a phishing attack?

Difference Between Cryptography and Network Security
Difference Between Cryptography and Network Security
Cryptography and network security are important terms related to cybersecurity, and many of us often use both these words interchangeably. But, it’s not correct. Cryptography and network security are two...read more
Difference Between SSL and SSH Tunnel
Difference Between SSL and SSH Tunnel
In today’s era, we all can agree that the internet has become an integral part of our daily lives. And, with the increase in internet usage, the chances of getting...read more
What is Dumpster Diving?
What is Dumpster Diving?
In cybersecurity, dumpster diving is one of the passive attacks that an attacker or a hacker use in order to get their hands on sensitive and confidential information. They can...read more

Eavesdropping Methods 

As previously stated, attackers can use a variety of techniques to eavesdrop. Let’s review the various methods widely used to launch an eavesdropping attack.

Pickup Device

To eavesdrop on targets, attackers can use devices that collect sound or images and converts them into an electrical format, such as microphones and video cameras. This device should ideally draw power from the power sources in the target room, removing the requirement for the attacker to go into the room to charge up or consider replacing the device’s batteries.

Transmission Link

For listening purposes, an attacker can tap the transmission link between a pickup device and the attacker’s collector. The attacker can accomplish this through a radiofrequency transmission or a cable, including active or unused phone lines, electric cables, or ungrounded electrical pipelines.

Open Networks

Clients interacting on open networks without passwords and without encrypting data provide an ideal environment for attackers to listen in. This is one of the most effective ways hackers monitor user activity and eavesdrop on network communications.

Weak Passwords

Weak passwords make it easier for hackers to gain unauthorized access to user accounts. Hackers use various attacks to gain login access, such as brute force attacks, social engineering attacks, etc. Once inside the system or network, hackers can easily infiltrate secret communication channels, intercept activity and conversations among coworkers, and steal sensitive information.

You can also explore: What is a DDoS attack?

Eavesdropping Attack Tools 

There are various tools and software available that an attacker to use to accomplish an eavesdropping attack. Some of the popular tools are:

UCSniff: UCSniff is a proof-of-concept (POC) tool for demonstrating the risk of unauthorized VoIP and video recording. It can assist you in determining who can eavesdrop and from which parts of your network. The majority of hackers in the world use this tool to carry out eavesdropping attacks.

Wireshark: Wireshark is an application that catches packets from a network connection, such as a connection between your computer and the internet. Wireshark is the world’s most popular packet sniffer.

Cain & Abel: Cain and Abel was a Microsoft Windows password recovery tool. It could recover a wide range of passwords by employing network packet sniffing, dictionary attacks, brute force, and cryptanalysis techniques. However, instead of using the tool for ethical purposes, hackers now use it to achieve their goals.

Oreka: Oreka TR is a cloud-based call recording solution that provides live monitoring and speech analytics to contact centres and communication service providers. This tool has many advanced features, including multi-site recording, data export, retention management and archiving, etc. And, like the others mentioned above, this tool is being used for unethical activities and eavesdropping attacks.

You can also explore: What is a salami attack & how to protect against it?

Types of Eavesdropping Attacks 

Active eavesdropping and passive eavesdropping are the two types of eavesdropping attacks. Let us better understand them by using examples.

Active:

The attacker attempts to change the content of the messages in an active eavesdropping attack. Assume two people (A and B) are conversing on Telegram (a social media site). An attacker (C) will intercept the message sent by A and edit it as needed before forwarding it to person B. When B receives the message, he or she will be unaware of any tempering and assume that all of the message content is from person A.

2022_08_MicrosoftTeams-image-34.jpg

Passive:

The attacker observes the content and may copy the content of the message, but no change is done to the content. Let’s assume the above scenario. The only thing that will change will be the action of the attacker. Here he may copy the content of the message for later use, but no change is done to the content.

2022_08_MicrosoftTeams-image-35.jpg

Real-life Examples of Eavesdropping Attacks 

Some of the real-life examples of eavesdropping attacks are:

Case 1:

A recent case occurred when a remote employee needed to send sensitive business information to his boss. However, because his home network was malfunctioning, he went to a nearby cafe and sent the information through their network. However, he was unaware that the network in the cafe was an open network. An attacker eavesdropped on the information, causing a massive loss for the organization.

Case2:

According to the study, modern gadgets like Amazon Echo, Alexa, etc., eavesdrop on everything from private conversations to toilet flushing habits. Recently, an Amazon Echo made news when US police investigating a crime attempted to subpoena recordings made by the device. In the same case, investigators obtained data from a smart water meter indicating that the murder scene was already hosed down before police arrived.

You can also explore: What is Ransomware: How it works & how to get rid of it?

What are the Impacts of Eavesdropping Attack? 

There are various impacts of an eavesdropping attack, such as:

Loss of privacy: Every business and person has private information that, if made public, can harm their reputation.

Identity theft: Attackers can listen in on any employee’s private conversation to obtain login credentials, which they can then use to access restricted storage devices. Individuals do not simply lose their identities.

Financial loss: Attackers with sensitive data can access critical business applications anytime. They can threaten to reveal the information unless the victim pays a large sum or sells it to competitors.

How to Conduct a Safe Virtual Meeting? 

Virtual meetings are just as important as physical meetings. They’re your only option when you can’t meet with colleagues or clients. With the rise of remote jobs and the work-from-home culture, we increasingly rely on virtual meetings to complete our tasks. However, as virtual meetings gain popularity, attackers are employing techniques such as eavesdropping to intercept conversations and sensitive information shared in the meetings. So, how do you hold secure virtual meetings?

You can conduct safe virtual meetings by following the guidelines outlined below.

  • Avoid using the record function, as it may allow your meeting content to fall into the wrong hands.
  • Once your participants have arrived, close your virtual meeting room. This makes uninvited guests much more challenging to attend.
  • Make use of your waiting room feature. You can use this to ensure that only invited participants can attend the meeting.
  • Try to use a unique PIN if the content of your meeting is confidential. Depending on your provider, you can select additional security features.
  • Do not reuse your access codes. More people will have access to your virtual meeting room if you use the same access code for your virtual meetings.

Laws in India Against Eavesdropping Attacks

According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except by the procedure established by law.” The phrase ‘personal liberty’ includes the right to privacy.’ A citizen has the right to protect their privacy and their family’s privacy.

Unlawful interception violates the right to privacy, and the person who has been violated may file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. When someone becomes aware of illegal phone interception (eavesdropping), an FIR can be filed at the nearest Police Station. Furthermore, the aggrieved party may file an action in court against the person or company performing the unauthorized act under Section 26 (b) of the Indian Telegraphic Act, which provides for a three-year prison sentence for those convicted of unlawful interception.

How to Prevent Eavesdropping Attacks? 

Let’s go through the techniques that can help prevent an eavesdropping attack.

Use of VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts data between two points and is the most common form of eavesdropping protection. Corporate wireless networks should use the highest level of encryption possible.

Encryption: Encrypting data in transmission and private conversations is one of the best ways to prevent eavesdropping attacks. Encryption prevents attackers from reading data exchanged between two parties. Military-grade encryption is an excellent way to protect against eavesdropping attacks because it takes attackers 500 billion years to decode.

Avoid shady links: Eavesdropping attackers can spread malicious software that includes eavesdropping malware through shady links.

Keep your system up to date: Attackers can target organizations and users by exploiting vulnerabilities in old software. This makes it critical to update your system because it may include security patches.

Physical security: Organizations should also protect the data in their office spaces by implementing physical security measures. This is critical for protecting the office from unauthorized individuals who may place physical bugs on desks, phones, and other devices.

Set strong passwords and change them frequently: Use passwords that contain a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. To improve security, you should change your passwords once a month.

Firewall: A personal firewall will protect your data packets from an intruder attempting to eavesdrop on your conversation.

Download software from official websites: Only download apps from trusted sources such as Google Play or Apple stores, as files downloaded from these platforms, will not be infected with malware, etc., that can download eavesdropping software without the user’s permission.

You can also explore: What is safe browsing?

Conclusion

Eavesdropping attacks are a significant concern because they can easily target phones, smartphones, and computers. Attackers can use this attack to steal data for financial gain, commit identity theft by stealing sensitive information, and use stolen login credentials to carry out more significant attacks. So, rather than being sorry later, use the preventive measure discussed above!

FAQs

During an eavesdropping attack, what does the attacker do?

During an eavesdropping attack, an attacker intercepts, deletes, or modifies data transmitted between two devices.

How can you protect yourself from eavesdropping?

Use a personal firewall, keep antivirus software up to date, and use a virtual private network to protect yourself from eavesdropping attacks (VPN).

How is an eavesdropping attack carried out?

Eavesdropping attacks are of two types: passive eavesdropping and active eavesdropping.

How many different kinds of eavesdropping attacks are there?

Eavesdropping attacks are of two types: passive eavesdropping and active eavesdropping.

Which technology can be used to prevent eavesdropping on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls?

You can use encryptionu00a0technologyu00a0to protect confidentiality andu00a0prevent eavesdropping attacks.

About the Author
author-image
Anshuman Singh
Senior Executive - Content

Anshuman Singh is an accomplished content writer with over three years of experience specializing in cybersecurity, cloud computing, networking, and software testing. Known for his clear, concise, and informative wr... Read Full Bio