Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2.2 Man-in-the-middle Attack

In a man-in-the-middle attack, the attacker inserts himself undetected between
two nodes. He can then choose to stay undetected and spy on the communication
or more actively manipulate the communication. He can achieve this
by inserting, dropping or retransmitting previous messages in the data stream.
Man-in-the-middle attacks can thus achieve a variety of goals, depending on the
protocol. In many cases it is identity spoofing or dispatching false information.
Man-in-the-middle attacks are a nightmare in most protocols (especially when
there is a form of authentication). Fortunately, they are less interesting in P2P networks. All the nodes have the same “clearance” and the traffic’s content is
shared anyway which makes identity spoofing useless. If the P2P application
supports different clearances between nodes, then the implications of man-in the-
middle attacks would depend on the protocol itself. Possible attacks could
be spreading polluted files on behalf of trusted entities or broadcasting on behalf
of a super node.

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