What is an Evil Twin Attack?

Haseeb Awan
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April 5, 2023

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Wi-Fi has become an essential part of our daily lives. From coffee shops to airports, we use public Wi-Fi networks to stay connected while on the go. However, with the rise of these networks comes the risk of cyber threats, such as Evil Twin Attacks. It is essential to know about threats to cyber-security like Evil Twin Attacks so that you can take the appropriate measures to not get affected by these attacks. Here is a compilation of everything you need to know:

How Do Evil Twin Attacks Work? Exploring the Techniques and Strategies

Evil Twin attacks are wireless network attacks involving creating a fake wireless access point that appears legitimate to unsuspecting users. Once a user connects to the fake access point, the attacker can intercept all their data, including sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, and other personally identifiable information.

Attackers use several techniques and strategies to carry out Evil Twin attacks. One of the most common methods is to set up a rogue access point with a similar name to a legitimate access point that's nearby. For example, if there's a legitimate access point named "Starbucks Wi-Fi," the attacker might create a fake access point named "Starbucks Free Wi-Fi" that looks identical to the real one. This can trick unsuspecting users into connecting to the fake access point, allowing the attacker to intercept their data.

Another technique that attackers use is to de-authenticate legitimate users from a wireless network, causing their devices to connect automatically to the fake access point instead. Attackers can achieve this by using a de-authentication tool, which sends de-authentication packets to the legitimate access point, making it think that the user has disconnected. Once the legitimate user reconnects, their device will automatically connect to the fake access point set up by the attacker.

Attackers may also use social engineering tactics to trick users into connecting to their fake access points. For example, an attacker might create a fake "login page" that looks like the legitimate page of a popular website, such as Facebook or Gmail. When the user enters their login credentials, the attacker can capture them and use them to gain unauthorized access to their account.

A Closer Look at Different Types of Evil Twin Attacks and Their Objectives

Evil Twin attacks come in different types, each with objectives and strategies. Understanding the different types of Evil Twin attacks can help you better protect yourself from this type of cyber-attack.

Ad-hoc Evil Twin Attack 

The Ad-hoc Evil Twin Attack is a type of Evil Twin attack that involves creating a fake wireless access point with the same name as the target network, but with the added step of creating an ad-hoc network rather than impersonating the legitimate access point. This ad-hoc network is typically created using a laptop or other wireless device.

The attacker first creates the ad-hoc network with the same name as the target network and then positions themselves in a location where they can intercept the wireless signal of the target network. Once users try to connect to the target network, they will see the fake ad-hoc network with the same name and may connect to it instead.

Once the user connects to the fake network, the attacker can intercept all their data, including sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and other personally identifiable information. This can be particularly effective if the attacker positions themselves in a public place like a coffee shop or airport, where users are likely to connect to public Wi-Fi networks without verifying the legitimacy of the access point.

Ad-hoc Evil Twin attacks can be difficult to detect because they don't involve impersonating a legitimate access point. However, users can protect themselves from this type of attack by verifying the legitimacy of any wireless network they connect to, avoiding connecting to open or unsecured networks, and using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt their data and protect their online privacy. Additionally, network administrators can implement security measures like wireless intrusion detection systems (WIDS) and wireless intrusion prevention systems (WIPS) to detect and prevent Ad-hoc Evil Twin attacks.

AP Spoofing Evil Twin Attack

The AP Spoofing Evil Twin Attack is another type of Evil Twin attack that involves creating a fake wireless access point with the same name as the target network's legitimate access point. However, unlike the Ad-hoc Evil Twin Attack, the AP Spoofing Attack involves impersonating the legitimate access point itself.

To carry out an AP Spoofing Evil Twin Attack, the attacker sets up a rogue wireless access point with the identical SSID (Service Set Identifier) and BSSID (Basic Service Set Identifier) as the legitimate access point. The BSSID is a unique identifier assigned to each wireless access point, which helps devices connect to the correct network.

When users connect to the fake access point, the attacker can intercept their data and credentials. This can include login credentials for websites, email accounts, other online services, and sensitive information like credit card numbers and personal identification information.

The AP Spoofing Evil Twin Attack can be particularly effective if the attacker positions themselves in a location where the legitimate access point's signal is weak or blocked, forcing users to connect to the fake access point instead. Additionally, the attacker can use various tactics to make the fake access point seem more legitimate, such as using a similar MAC address to the legitimate access point or setting up a fake captive portal that prompts users to enter their login credentials.

To protect against AP Spoofing Evil Twin Attacks, users can take several steps, such as verifying the legitimacy of any wireless network they connect to, avoiding connecting to open or unsecured networks, and using a VPN to encrypt their data. Network administrators can also implement security measures like WIDS and WIPS to detect and prevent AP Spoofing Evil Twin Attacks and use MAC address filtering and other access control mechanisms to limit access to the wireless network.

Wi-Fi Pineapple Attack

The Wi-Fi Pineapple Attack is a type of Evil Twin attack that involves using a device called the Wi-Fi Pineapple to create a fake wireless access point and intercept user data. The Wi-Fi Pineapple is a small, portable device that allows attackers to set up a rogue access point with the same name as a legitimate network.

When users connect to the fake access point, the attacker can intercept their data and credentials. The Wi-Fi Pineapple is designed to capture and record all the network traffic, including usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information. It can also be configured to perform various other attacks, such as DNS spoofing, which allows the attacker to redirect users to a fake website designed to steal their information.

The Wi-Fi Pineapple Attack is particularly effective because it can be used to target a large number of users simultaneously. The attacker can position the Wi-Fi Pineapple in a public location, such as a coffee shop or airport, and capture the data of all users who connect to the fake access point.

Man-in-the-Middle Evil Twin Attack

The Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Evil Twin Attack is a type of Evil Twin attack that involves intercepting and altering the communication between the victim and the legitimate network. In a MITM Evil Twin Attack, the attacker sets up a fake wireless access point with the same name as the legitimate network and intercepts the communication between the victim and the network.

Once the victim connects to the fake access point, the attacker can intercept and alter the transmitted data before relaying it to the legitimate network. This can include changing the contents of messages or stealing sensitive information like login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal identification information.

The Man-in-the-Middle Evil Twin Attack is particularly dangerous because the victim may not be aware that their communication is being intercepted and modified. This can lead to serious consequences, such as financial loss, identity theft, and other forms of fraud.

To carry out a MITM Evil Twin Attack, the attacker typically uses specialized software, such as Wireshark or Ettercap, to intercept and modify the network traffic. The attacker may also use other tactics like ARP or DNS spoofing to redirect the victim's traffic to the fake access point.

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Identifying Signs of an Evil Twin Attack

Identifying an Evil Twin Attack can be difficult, but there are a few signs that users can look out for to determine if they are being targeted. Here are some common signs to be aware of:

Network name changes:

One sign of an Evil Twin Attack is changes in the name of a wireless network. Attackers often create fake wireless access points similar to legitimate networks to deceive users into connecting to their networks. This type of attack is known as an Evil Twin Attack.

Attackers may use a variety of tactics to create a network name that looks legitimate. For example, they may use the same name as a nearby coffee shop or business or create a name similar to the legitimate network's name.

If a user notices a sudden change in the name of a wireless network, it could be a sign of an Evil Twin Attack. Users should always verify the name of a wireless network before connecting to it, and they should be especially cautious of networks with names that are unfamiliar or suspicious.

Poor network performance:

Another sign of an Evil Twin Attack is poor network performance. If a wireless network suddenly slows down or drops connection frequently, it could indicate an Evil Twin Attack. Attackers may use the wireless network for their purposes, such as conducting malicious activities, which can cause a slowdown in performance.

Attackers may also use a de-authentication attack to force users to disconnect from a legitimate network and connect to their fake network. This can cause disruptions in network performance and make it difficult for users to connect to the internet.

If user experiences sudden drops in network performance or slow connection speeds, they should be cautious and check if they are connected to a legitimate network. Users should also be wary of open or unsecured networks and use a VPN to encrypt their data when using public Wi-Fi networks.

Unexpected login prompts:

One of the signs of an Evil Twin Attack is unexpected login prompts. Attackers may create fake login pages that look like the legitimate login pages of websites or apps that users commonly use, such as social media platforms, email services, or banking websites.

When a user connects to an Evil Twin Attack network, the attacker may redirect their internet traffic to the fake login page, which prompts the user to enter their login credentials. The attacker can then use the credentials to gain unauthorized access to the user's accounts and steal sensitive information.

If a user sees an unexpected login prompt, especially on a website or app they frequently use, it could be a sign of an Evil Twin Attack. Users should always be cautious when entering their login credentials and verify that they are on a legitimate website or app before entering their information.

HTTPS errors: 

Another sign of an Evil Twin Attack is HTTPS errors. When a user connects to a legitimate website or app, the connection is secured using HTTPS encryption. However, suppose the user connects to an Evil Twin Attack network. In that case, the attacker may intercept the user's internet traffic and redirect them to a fake website that does not have HTTPS encryption.

When this happens, the user's browser may display an HTTPS error warning, indicating that the website's security certificate is invalid or the connection is not secure. This could be a sign of an Evil Twin Attack, as the attacker may be trying to steal the user's sensitive information, such as login credentials or credit card details.

Users should be cautious when encountering HTTPS errors, especially when accessing a sensitive website or app. They should verify the legitimacy of the website or app and ensure that they are using a secure connection before entering any sensitive information.

Unusual network behavior:

Unusual network behavior can also be a sign of an Evil Twin Attack. When a user connects to an Evil Twin network, the attacker may use various techniques to intercept, monitor, or manipulate the user's internet traffic.

This could include redirecting the user to fake websites, injecting malicious scripts into web pages, or blocking access to legitimate websites. As a result, the user may experience slow internet speeds, frequent disconnects, or unusual network behavior, such as pages not loading correctly or displaying strange error messages.

If a user experiences unusual network behavior, especially when connected to a public Wi-Fi network, it could indicate an Evil Twin Attack. Users should be cautious and avoid entering sensitive information until they can verify the legitimacy of the network.

Real-World Examples of Evil Twin Attacks

Evil Twin Attacks are not just theoretical concepts; they have happened in the real world, and cybercriminals have used them to steal sensitive information and launch malicious attacks. In one such incident in 2017, a group of hackers used an Evil Twin Attack to steal over $1 million from a bank in India. The attackers created a fake Wi-Fi network near the bank's branch, which was named similarly to the legitimate network. When employees connected to the fake network, the attackers intercepted their login credentials and used them to transfer funds from the bank's accounts. This highlights the severity of Evil Twin Attacks and how they can be used to carry out major financial crimes.

Similarly, in 2019, cybercriminals used an Evil Twin Attack to steal credit card information from customers at a hotel in Austria. The attackers created a fake Wi-Fi network that mimicked the hotel's legitimate network, luring unsuspecting guests to connect. The attackers could then intercept credit card information as it was being transmitted over the network. This instance highlights the importance of being vigilant and verifying the legitimacy of a network before connecting, especially when dealing with sensitive information.

These examples demonstrate the real-world threat of Evil Twin Attacks and the importance of protecting yourself using public Wi-Fi networks. Always be cautious and verify the legitimacy of the network before connecting, and use a VPN to encrypt your internet traffic and protect yourself from these types of attacks. Doing so can safeguard your sensitive information and avoid falling victim to an Evil Twin Attack.

Protecting Yourself from Evil Twin Attacks

To protect yourself from Evil Twin Attacks, you must be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:

First, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and tunnels it through a secure server, making it difficult for attackers to intercept and manipulate your data. Always use a VPN when accessing sensitive websites or apps on public Wi-Fi networks.

Other than that, verify the network's legitimacy. Before connecting to a Wi-Fi network, verify its name and ask the network administrator for the correct SSID. Be cautious of networks with unusual or suspicious names and avoid connecting to them.

You can also use HTTPS encryption. Always use HTTPS encryption when accessing sensitive websites or apps. This ensures that your data is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by attackers.

Remember always to keep your devices updated. Make sure your devices are running the latest security updates and patches. This helps to address any security vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit.

Install and use reputable antivirus software on your devices. This can help to detect and block malicious software and prevent attackers from gaining access to your devices.

Finally, be cautious with your personal information. Avoid entering sensitive information on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Wait until you are on a secure network, or use your mobile data instead.

To Sum it Up

Evil Twin Attacks are a growing threat to our online security, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks. By being aware of the different types of Evil Twin Attacks and taking necessary precautions, such as using a VPN and verifying network legitimacy, we can protect ourselves from falling victim to these attacks. Remember to remain vigilant and cautious when using public Wi-Fi networks and prioritize your online security.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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