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What is Eavesdropping?


Merriam-Webster dictionary defines eavesdropping as the act of secretly listening to something private.

In computer security, eavesdropping refers to the interception of communication between two parties by a malicious third party.

An eavesdropping attack, also known as snooping or sniffing attack, is the theft of information transmitted over a network by a digital device such as a computer, smartphone, or IoT device. The attack exploits vulnerabilities in unsecured network communications to access data illegally.

Key Takeaways

Eavesdropping Attack Motivations and Impacts

Attackers perform eavesdropping activities to steal and sell sensitive financial, business, and personal information for monetary gains and other criminal purposes.

A hacker can steal bank account information to make unauthorized purchases and transfer money. Eavesdropping attack leads to the theft of personal data that criminals use to steal identities.

Sometimes, attackers deploy eavesdropping technique to uncover incriminating evidence against someone. They use such information to blackmail victims for emotional leverage and financial gains.  

Cybercriminals can steal passwords through eavesdropping attacks. They utilize stolen credentials to access private assets in a digital network.

Eavesdropping attacks result in loss of privacy. Attackers deploy techniques to absorb important business and personal information, ideas, and conversations between two parties, thereby affecting their privacy.

How Eavesdropping Attack Occurs

An eavesdropping incident is difficult to detect since the network activities appear to be operating normally.

In eavesdropping attacks, hackers look for a weakened connection between a client and a server. They deploy various tactics to reroute network traffic. In some cases, an attacker can install a network monitoring software or a sniffer to intercept data between sender and receiver.

Hackers also use legitimate applications that security teams use to monitor and analyze network traffic, such as Wireshark, tcpdump, and Snort, to spot and exploit vulnerabilities in a network.

Eavesdropping Techniques  

Hackers devise new ways to eavesdrop digital communications. Examples of attack techniques include:

Preventing Eavesdropping Attacks

Follow these tips to prevent eavesdropping attacks:

George Mutune

I am a cyber security professional with a passion for delivering proactive strategies for day to day operational challenges. I am excited to be working with leading cyber security teams and professionals on projects that involve machine learning & AI solutions to solve the cyberspace menace and cut through inefficiency that plague today's business environments.