Five vulnerabilities VPNs do not protect you against


The Rise of the VPN

Virtual private network (VPN) security is now a significant concern for cybersecurity vulnerabilities from practically every firm. Nobody claims to have a fully tested and proven security mechanism in their infrastructures, and this is the truth. A list of the most recent vulnerabilities has been published and indexed in the context of VPN hardware, software, configures, and implementations. As a result, it has been decided to investigate the VPN vulnerabilities that have been identified so far, as well as the ongoing difficulties and vulnerabilities that have not been identified so far through the survey. A set of security vulnerability mitigating policies has been recommended in light of the observations.

The Vulnerabilities in VPNs are exposing their users to risks of data breaches and personal data loss. Vulnerabilities in the software that connects users with those servers could expose them to hackers, putting you at risk of data breaches and personal data loss. Users should be aware of this security vulnerability when they think that they are safely connected.

VPNs should be a secure way to surf the web anonymously by routing your Internet traffic through a remote server. Vulnerabilities in the software that connects users with those servers could expose them to hackers, putting you at risk of data breaches and personal data loss. These are five of the vulnerabilities related to VPN and what you can do to mitigate your risk against these vulnerabilities.

Massive amount of Attacks

Computer Hacker
Computer hacker

Attackers were able to exploit a wide range of vulnerabilities, which demonstrated both how easily they might be attacked and how many different courses of action they could take once they had exploited them. These attacks reveal sensitive data passed between VPN and its authenticated user and end server.

One important source of worry in connection with the attacks was the method employed by one hacker organization, which was to install malicious Web shells on compromised Exchange Server computers in order to establish a persistent presence on those systems. Concerns about the Web shells on US systems were so widespread that a federal judge granted the FBI permission to remove the shells from any systems on which they had been installed, including those belonging to private companies. It is still not clear the amount of sensitive data that was compromised by this security vulnerability.

RCE vulnerabilities were the most widely exploited defects in the first quarter of 2019, according to Digital Shadows’ threat analysis. This is the same as it was in the fourth quarter of 2020. In the first quarter of this year, RCE vulnerabilities were used in 23 percent of all attacks. Specifically, according to Digital Shadows, the most likely reason for attackers to target this class of vulnerabilities is that they allow for a wide range of destructive behaviors to be carried out.

Man in the Middle (MITM) Attacks

A Man in the Middle commonly referred to as a MITM attack is when a hacker intercepts your traffic between user input and the VPN server. They can do this by setting up their own server that pretends to be the VPN server or by installing malware on your device that allows them to spy on your traffic. This puts the user input at risk of having your sensitive data stolen, including your login credentials, passwords, and even credit card information. To protect yourself and your sensitive data from a MITM attack, you should use a VPN that uses strong encryption and has a strict no-logs policy.

What is MITM Attacks

When a perpetrator inserts himself into a discussion between a user and an application, either to eavesdrop or to mimic one of the parties, it appears as though a normal exchange of information is taking place, this leaves sensitive data at risk. This is referred to as a man in the middle (MITM) attack.

Personal information such as login credentials, account data, and credit card numbers are targeted in attacks with the objective of stealing it. The customers of banking apps, SaaS enterprises, e-commerce websites, and other websites where signing in is required are the most common targets.

An attacker could utilize the information collected during an attack for a variety of objectives, including identity theft, unapproved fund transfers, and unauthorized password changes. There is a massive amount of information that is passed in user sessions that could become compromised.

Additionally, it can be used to obtain a footing within a guarded perimeter during the infiltration stage of an advanced persistent threat (APT) attack.

According to a general definition, a MITM attack would be the equivalent of a mailman accessing your bank statement, writing down your account information, and then sealing the envelope and bringing it to your door.

MITM Attack has two phases

The successful implementation of MITM consists of two independent phases: interception and decryption.

MITM – Interception

User traffic is intercepted before it reaches its intended destination by the first step of the attack, which occurs within the attacker’s network.

The most popular (and simplest) method of accomplishing this is through a passive attack, in which an attacker makes freely available malicious WiFi hotspots to the general public. They are typically identified by a name that correlates to their geographic location, and they are not password secured. Once a victim establishes a connection to one of these hotspots, the attacker obtains complete insight into any online data transfer.

Attackers desiring to take a more active approach to interception may choose to initiate one of the following types of operations:

IP spoofing is the act of an attacker impersonating a legitimate application by modifying the packet headers in an IP address. Because of this, users who attempt to access a URL that is associated with the program are redirected to the attacker’s website.

It is possible to associate an attacker’s MAC address with the IP address of a genuine user on a local area network by sending bogus ARP messages to the legitimate user’s computer. Consequently, data submitted by a user to the host IP address is instead sent to the attacker’s IP address.

When DNS spoofing, also known as DNS cache poisoning, is carried out, it entails accessing a DNS server and modifying the address record of a website. As a result, users attempting to access the site are routed to the attacker’s website as a result of the manipulated DNS record.

MITM – Decryption

After the interception, any two-way SSL traffic must be decrypted without causing the user or the application to become aware of the decryption. There are several approaches that can be used to accomplish this:

Once the initial connection request to a secure site is established, HTTPS spoofing transmits a bogus certificate to the victim’s browser, causing the browser to display a bogus certificate. It contains a digital thumbprint connected with the compromised program, which the browser verifies against a list of trusted sites that have been previously established. As a result, the attacker has full access to any information submitted by the victim before it is delivered to the program.

Known as SSL BEAST (browser exploit against SSL/TLS), this vulnerability in SSL targets TLS version 1.0 in the browser. It is in this case that the victim’s machine has been infected with malicious JavaScript, which is designed to capture encrypted cookies supplied by a web-based application. Then the cipher block chaining (CBC) of the app is compromised, allowing the attacker to decrypt the app’s cookies and authentication tokens.

While a TCP handshake is in progress, a user and an application can be hijacked by an attacker using counterfeit authentication keys that are passed between them. Essentially, this creates what looks to be a secure connection, but it is actually a rogue server that has complete control over the entire session.

SSL stripping is a technique for converting a secure HTTPS connection to a plain HTTP connection by intercepting the TLS authentication provided from the server to the client. When a user visits the application’s website, an unencrypted version of the site is sent to the user, but the user’s secure session with the program is maintained. While this is going on, the attacker has full access to the user’s whole session.

MITM Attack Prevention

A mix of encryption and verification mechanisms for apps, as well as a number of practical procedures on the side of users, are required to prevent MITM assaults from succeeding.

This means the following for users:

  • Use caution when connecting to WiFi networks that are not password protected.
  • Paying close attention to browser notifications that a website is unsafe to visit is important.
  • When a secure application is not in use, it is important to log out as soon as possible.
  • When completing sensitive transactions, avoid using public networks (e.g., coffee shops, hotels) if possible.
  • Use secure websites
  • Be sensitive about when users share sensitive information and use input validation when possible

Website owners can benefit from secure communication protocols such as TLS and HTTPS, which help to reduce spoofing attacks by robustly encrypting and authenticating the data delivered over the internet. This prevents the weakness of eavesdropping of site traffic and the decryption of sensitive data, such as authentication tokens, from taking place.

The usage of SSL/TLS for all pages of a website, rather than only the ones that require visitors to log in, is regarded as best practice by most application developers and IT professionals. This reduces the likelihood of an attacker obtaining session cookies from a user when they are logged in and browsing on an insecure portion of a website.

Using highly rated VPN services would help prevent MITM attacks by a malicious actor.

DNS Hijacking

DNS Hijacking is when a hacker tricks your device into using their DNS server instead of the one on your router. This means that they can monitor and record all of your Internet activity, including sensitive information like your banking information and geo-location data. You can protect yourself from DNS Hijacking by making sure you connect to the VPN’s DNS servers only, and not to any other servers that may be offered (including public Wi-Fi). A good way to ensure you’re connected to the right server is by comparing the IP addresses on your network settings with those offered by the VPN.

What is DNS Hijacking

When a domain name server (DNS) is hijacked, also known as DNS redirection, a DNS attack occurs in which DNS queries are erroneously resolved in order to redirect users to malicious websites unexpectedly. In order to carry out the attack, the culprits either install malware on user PCs or take control of routers, or they intercept or compromise DNS communication transmission.

DNS hijacking can be used for pharming (in this context, attackers often display unwanted advertisements in order to generate cash) or phishing (in this situation, attackers typically send out spam emails) (displaying fake versions of sites users access and stealing data or credentials).

DNS hijacking is another technique used by many Internet service providers (ISPs) to intercept user DNS requests, collect statistics, and provide advertisements when a user visits an unknown domain. Some governments utilize DNS hijacking for censorship purposes, diverting users to sites that have been approved by the government.

DNS Hijacking attack vectors

Local DNS hijacking occurs when an attacker infects a user’s computer with Trojan malware and then changes the local DNS settings to route the user to harmful websites.

DNS hijacking using a router – many routers include default passwords or firmware flaws that are exploitable. Attackers can take control of a router and overwrite the DNS settings, which will affect all users who are connected to that particular router.

Malicious websites are being targeted by man-in-the-middle DNS attacks, in which attackers intercept communication between a user and a DNS server and supply multiple destination IP addresses referring to malicious websites.

Rogue DNS Server – An attacker can hack into a DNS server and modify DNS records, causing DNS requests to be redirected to malicious websites.

DNS Spoofing vs Redirection

Attacks such as DNS spoofing, which redirect traffic from a legitimate website such as http://www.google.com to a malicious website such as google.attacker.com, are known as denial-of-service attacks (DoS). DNS spoofing can be accomplished through the use of DNS redirection. Using a compromised DNS server, for example, attackers can “spoof” legitimate websites and divert people to malicious websites.

Cache poisoning is another method of achieving DNS spoofing that does not require the use of DNS hijacking (physically taking over the DNS settings). DNS servers, routers, and computers are all capable of caching DNS records. A faked DNS entry with another IP destination for the same domain name can be used to “poison” the DNS cache, allowing attackers to take advantage of the vulnerability. Until the DNS server’s cache is refreshed, the domain is resolved to the faked website by the DNS server.

Mitigation Methods

A DNS name server is a highly sensitive infrastructure that necessitates the adoption of robust security measures since it can be hijacked and used by hackers to launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against others:

Keep an eye out for DNS resolvers on your network; any that aren’t needed should be turned off. Legitimate resolvers should be housed behind a firewall, with no access granted to anyone outside of the corporation.

Access to a name server should be severely restricted – physical security, multi-factor authentication, a firewall, and network security measures should all be implemented.

Avoid cache poisoning by using a random source port, a random query ID, and alternating upper/lower case in domain names, for example.

Hackers frequently look for insecure DNS servers, thus it’s important to repair known vulnerabilities as soon as possible.

Do not run the authoritative name server and the resolver on the same server in order to prevent a distributed denial-of-service attack on either component from bringing down the other.

Zone transfers should be restricted – slave name servers can request a zone transfer, which is a partial copy of your DNS records, which should be denied. Zone records contain information that is valuable to attackers, therefore they should be protected.

How to protect yourself as an end-user.

By changing their router passwords, installing antivirus software, and connecting through an encrypted VPN channel, end users can defend themselves from DNS hijacking attacks. If a user’s ISP is interfering with their DNS, they can utilize a free, alternative DNS provider such as Google Public DNS, Google DNS over HTTPS, or Cisco OpenDNS to resolve the problem for them.

How to protect your website

When a domain name registrar is used, site owners have the option of taking the following actions to prevent DNS redirection of their DNS records: 

Secure access — when using the DNS registrar, employ two-factor authentication to avoid being compromised. If at all possible, create a whitelist of IP addresses that are permitted to view DNS configurations. Whitelisting IP addresses will block unwanted manipulation (ads and pop-up windows) that are sometimes placed on sites by malicious bots or other cyber criminals

Check with your DNS registrar to see whether they support client lock (also known as change lock), which prevents changes to your DNS records from being made without the approval of a specific named individual. Consider constructing a positive whitelist to ensure that only authorized changes are made to your DNS records.

DNSSEC – use a DNS registrar that supports DNSSEC and make sure it’s enabled on your domain. As a result, hackers will find it more difficult (but not impossible) to intercept and spoof DNS transmission when DNSSEC is in place. Hackers will find it more difficult (but not impossible) to intercept and spoof DNS traffic if the SEC digitally certifies the connection. Hackers will find it more difficult (but not impossible) to intercept and spoof traffic if Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is in place.

Trojans and Worms

A Trojan or Worm are common vulnerabilities that can infect your machine and steal your login credentials, usernames, passwords, and credit card information. A good way to avoid this is to never click on any links in emails or instant messages that seem suspicious, download any attachments you weren’t expecting, or enter sensitive information into websites. You should also make sure you have anti-malware software installed on your machine.

What Is A Trojan Horse

A Trojan Horse Virus is a type of malware that infiltrates a computer by masquerading as a legitimate program and then infects the computer. The delivery method typically involves an attacker employing social engineering techniques to conceal malicious code within legitimate software in order to attempt to gain access to a user’s system through their software.

What is a Trojan is a type of malware that typically gets hidden as an attachment in an email or a free-to-download file, and then gets transferred onto the user’s device, which is the simplest way to answer the question “what is a Trojan.” If malicious code is downloaded and executed, it will perform the task for which the attacker programmed it, such as gaining backdoor access to corporate systems, spying on users’ online activity, or stealing sensitive information.

Unusual activity on a device, such as the modification of computer settings without warning, is an indication that a Trojan is active on the device.

Trojan Horse History

It is possible to find the original story of the Trojan horse in the Aeneid by Virgil and the Odyssey by Homer, as well as other ancient texts. According to the story, the enemies of the city of Troy were able to gain entry into the city gates by pretending that a horse had been given to them as a gift. As soon as the soldiers climbed inside the massive wooden horse, they climbed out and opened the door for the other soldiers to enter.

Some aspects of the story make the term “Trojan horse” an appropriate designation for these types of cyberattacks, including:

  • The Trojan horse provided a one-of-a-kind countermeasure to the target’s defenses. According to the original story, the attackers had been laying siege to the city for ten years and had been unsuccessful in their attempts to capture it. They were able to gain access because of the Trojan horse, which they had been seeking for a decade. A Trojan virus, in a similar vein, can be an effective means of getting past an otherwise robust set of defenses.
  • The Trojan horse had the appearance of being a legitimate present. In a similar vein, a Trojan virus is designed to look and behave like genuine software.
  • The soldiers who rode in the Trojan horse were in command of the city’s defenses. In the case of a Trojan virus, the malware infects your computer and takes over control, potentially making it vulnerable to other “invaders.”

How a Trojan Horse Works

In contrast to computer viruses, a Trojan horse cannot manifest itself on its own; instead, it requires a user to download the server-side of the application in order for it to function. This means that the executable (.exe) file must be implemented and the program must be installed in order for the Trojan to be able to attack the system of a device.

An email with a legitimate-looking attachment or an email with a legitimate-looking attachment that is spammed in order to reach as many people as possible is where a Trojan virus spreads. As soon as the email is opened and the malicious attachment is downloaded, the Trojan server is installed and begins to run automatically every time the infected device is powered on.

It is also possible for devices to become infected by a Trojan through the use of social engineering tactics, which cybercriminals employ to trick users into downloading a malicious application. In some cases, the malicious file may be concealed within banner advertisements, pop-up advertisements, or links on websites.

A computer that has been infected with Trojan malware has the potential to spread it to other computers. A cybercriminal transforms the device into a zombie computer, which allows them to take control of it from a distance without the user’s knowledge or consent. Hackers can then use the zombie computer to spread malware across a network of devices, known as a botnet, which is a collection of compromised computers.

Consider the following scenario: a user receives an email from someone they know that contains an attachment that appears to be legitimate. The attachment, on the other hand, contains malicious code that executes and installs the Trojan on the recipient’s computer. The user may not be aware that anything unusual has occurred because their computer may continue to function normally and show no signs of having been infected, according to the statistics.

The malware will remain undetected until the user performs a specific action, such as visiting a specific website or using a specific banking application. This will cause the malicious code to be executed, and the Trojan will then perform the desired action on the hacker’s behalf. Depending on the type of Trojan and how it was created, the malware may either delete itself or return to a dormant state on the device, or it may remain active on it.

Trojans can also attack and infect smartphones and tablets through the use of a type of mobile malware known as mobile malware. If an attacker redirects traffic to a device connected to a Wi-Fi network and then uses that device to launch cyberattacks, this is possible.

Examples of Common Trojan Horses

Malicious software known as a backdoor Trojan allows an attacker to gain remote control over a computer and take control of it by exploiting a backdoor. Consequently, the malicious actor is able to perform any action they desire on the device, such as deleting files, rebooting the computer, stealing data, or uploading malware. Backdoor Trojans are frequently used to create botnets, which are networks of zombie computers that are controlled by a backdoor Trojan.

Banker Trojan: A banker Trojan is a type of malware that is designed to steal information about a user’s banking and financial accounts. There are several types of accounts that are targeted, including credit and debit cards, e-payment systems, and online banking systems.

Distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) (DDoS) Trojan: These Trojan programs are used to launch attacks against networks, causing them to become overburdened with traffic. It will send multiple requests from a single computer or from a group of computers in an attempt to overwhelm a target web address and cause a denial of service to occur.

Trojan horse that downloads and installs additional malicious programs on a computer that has already been infected with malware is referred to as a downloader Trojan (or downloader virus). This could include additional Trojans or other types of malware, such as adware, that has been installed.

Tornadoes that are designed to exploit specific vulnerabilities in an application or computer system are known as exploit malware programs, or exploit trojans. The cyber criminal will target users using a method such as a phishing attack, and then use the code contained within the program to exploit a previously identified vulnerability.

Trojan horse for fake antivirus software: A Trojan horse for fake antivirus software Trojan horse software imitates the actions of legitimate antivirus programs. The Trojan is designed to detect and remove threats in the same way that a regular antivirus program would, and then extort money from users in exchange for removing threats that may or may not exist in the first place.

An example of a game-thief Trojan is a Trojan that is specifically designed to steal user account information from people who are participating in online games.

Trojan horse for instant messaging (IM) services: This type of Trojan horse targets IM services in order to steal users’ login information and passwords. Popular messaging platforms, such as AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Skype, and Yahoo Pager, are targeted by the malware.

Trojan horse that steals information: This malware can be used to either install Trojans or to prevent the user from detecting the presence of a malicious program on his or her computer. Antivirus systems may have difficulty detecting infostealer Trojans because of the components that make up their construction.

Its goal is to harvest and steal email addresses from a computer’s memory, which is known as a mailfinder Trojan attack.

Malicious software known as ransomware is designed to impair a computer’s performance or block data on a device so that the user can no longer access or use the device. In this case, the attacker will hold the user or organization hostage until the user or organization pays a ransom fee in order to undo the device damage or unlock the affected data.

Remote access Trojan: This strand of malware, which is similar to a backdoor Trojan, grants the attacker complete control over the victim’s computer. When a cyber criminal maintains access to an object through a remote network connection, he or she can steal information or spy on the user.

Rootkit Trojan: A rootkit Trojan is a type of malware that hides itself on a user’s computer and performs malicious actions. Its goal is to prevent malicious programs from being detected, allowing malware to remain active on a computer that has been infected for a longer period of time.

Trojan horse for the short message service (SMS): Once infected, an SMS Trojan is capable of sending and intercepting text messages from mobile devices. This includes sending messages to premium-rate phone numbers, which raises the cost of a user’s phone bill because the cost of the message is higher.

Trojan Horse for Spyware: Spyware Trojan horses are computer programs that are designed to sit on a user’s computer and spy on their activities. In this case, logging their keyboard actions, taking screenshots, gaining access to the applications they use, and tracking their login data are all included.

SolarWinds Orion Platforms were infected with the SUNBURST trojan virus, which was distributed widely. Traitors used trojanized versions of a legitimate SolarWinds digitally signed file with the name SolarWinds.Orion.Core.BusinessLayer.dll to infect victims’ computers. A backdoor has been created by the trojanized file. Once it has been installed on a target machine, it will remain dormant for two weeks before retrieving commands that will allow it to transfer, execute, perform reconnaissance, reboot, and halt system services, among other things. Communication takes place over the http protocol to predetermined URIs.

How to protect yourself from Trojan Horse Viruses

A Trojan horse virus is capable of remaining on a device for months without the user being aware that their computer has been infected with it. However, telltale signs of the presence of a Trojan include changes in computer settings that occur suddenly, a decrease in computer performance, and unusual activity occurring on the computer. Using a Trojan scanner or malware-removal software to search for and identify Trojans is the most effective method of identifying them.

Legacy Apps

Legacy Apps, or apps or an operating system that do not update themselves, can be the most vulnerable and the most costly to your company’s data security. Vulnerabilities can exist in these apps and lead you to put your company’s data at risk. Vulnerabilities are commonly found in these apps because the developers of them don’t have access to security patches. Vulnerability management is key for any business that wants to reduce its cyber risk and keep its data secure.

You should avoid using legacy apps or an operating system to protect yourself from vulnerabilities, but you can also mitigate your risk by managing your Vulnerabilities with Vulnerability Management. Vulnerability Management gives you the tools to understand the risks that exist in your environment and then take steps to reduce that risk.

Vulnerability scans help you identify Vulnerabilities so you can prioritize them for mitigation based on their business impact, level of exposure, and remediation costs. Vulnerabilities are only ever known vulnerabilities because there isn’t evidence that they are being exploited. Vulnerability scanning on an operating system helps you understand the threats your company faces so you can act before it becomes too late.

Software vulnerabilities are typically found in Vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. Vulnerabilities exist in software for a variety of reasons, including programming mistakes and errors, configuration problems, and missing security controls.

Repeated Login Attempts

Repeated Login Attempts are when a hacker tries to log into your account by entering multiple incorrect login credentials in a row. Some attackers can execute commands without user input Repeated Login Attempts can be prevented by using the strongest available password and using two-factor authentication, which requires you to provide access to your phone before being able to log into your account).

Vulnerabilities related to Repeated Login Attempts have been eliminated from VpnMentor with the introduction of Two Factor Authentication where users need a second key besides just the password for logging in.

In conclusion

Vulnerabilities in Vpn’s can expose your data and put you at risk for cyberattacks. Vulnerability management is important to protect yourself from the vulnerabilities that exist with legacy apps, repeated login attempts, trojans and worms, MITM attacks, DNS Hijacking and more. Vulnerability scanning helps you understand the threats your company faces so you can act before it becomes too late. If all of this sounds intimidating or if a vulnerability scan will help mitigate some of these risks then let us know! Our team has experts ready to partner with you on any digital marketing plan- just contact us today!


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