Session Hijacking :

Sessions are an essential part of internet communication and are mostly web-based. Session hijacking is a web attack carried out by exploiting active web sessions. A session is a period of communication between two computer systems. A web server needs authentication since every user communication via websites uses multiple TCP/IP channels.

A common form of authentication is always the use of a username and password, which are usually predefined. After successful authentication, the webserver sends a session token to the user, which is then stored in the user’s machine enabling a session. The session ID can be stored as a cookie in the HTTP header or the URL.

It is a security attack on a user session over a protected network. Web applications create cookies to store the state and user sessions. By stealing the cookies, an attacker can have access to all of the user data.

How Session Hijacking Works :

Session hijacking happens when an intruder takes advantage of a compromised active session by hijacking or stealing the HTTP cookies used to maintain a session on most websites. Another way is by predicting an active session to gain unauthorized access to information in a remote webserver without detection as the intruder uses the credentials of the particular user. The session token or HTTP header can be compromised and manipulated in many ways, including:

  • Session Sniffing: Sniffing can be used to hijack a session when there is non-encrypted communication between the web server and the user, and the session ID is being sent in plain text. Hence, if an intruder is monitoring the network, he or she can get the session ID, which they can then use to be automatically authenticated to the webserver. In monitoring the network, ethical hacking tools such as Wireshark and Kismet can be used to capture sensitive data packets such as the session ID from the network.
  • Cross-site scripting (XSS): OWASP names cross-site scripting as among the top ten web application security risks. A server can be vulnerable to a cross-site scripting exploit, which enables an attacker to execute malicious code from the user’s side, gathering session information. An attacker can target a victim’s browser and send a scripted JavaScript link, which upon opening by the user, runs the malicious code in the browser hijacking sessions.

How to avoid Session Hijacking :

  • Encrypting all data transmitted on a web page
  • Using HTTPS certification on websites
  • Properly logging out of sessions when they are finished and closing websites open if not actively used
  • Using cyber security tools to protect websites from potential threats
  • Keeping your browsers updated and patched


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