Hackers are getting better at beating 2FA security


Photo: DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP (Getty Images)

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, has been sold to internet users as one of the most important and reliable tools to secure your digital life. You probably know how it works: By providing an account with not only your password, but also a secondary piece of information (usually an automated code sent to your phone or device of choice), companies can verify that whoever logs into your account is sure you are and not just any goon who have managed to get their hands on your personal information.

Unfortunately, according to new research, said goons have found some effective ways to bypass your 2FA protections — and they’re using these methods more and more.

The study, published by academic researchers from Stony Brook University and cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, shows the recent discovery of phishing toolkits used to bypass authentication protections. tool kits are malicious software programs designed to aid in cyber attacks. They are developed by criminals and are usually sold and distributed on dark web forums, where digital malcontent can buy and use them. The Stony Brook study, originally reported by The record, shows that these malicious programs are used for phishing and stealing 2FA credentials of users of major online websites. They’re also exploding in use – with researchers finding a total of at least 1,200 different toolkits in the digital underworld.

Admittedly, cyber attacks that can defeat 2FA are: not new, but the spread of these malicious programs shows that they are both more sophisticated and widely used.

The toolkits beat 2FA by stealing something arguably more valuable than your password: your 2FA authentication cookies, which are files stored in your web browser when the authentication process takes place.

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According to the research, cookies can be stolen in two ways: a hacker can infect a victim’s computer with malware that steals data, or he can steal the cookies in transit, along with your password, before they reach the site. that you are trying to authenticate. This is done by phishing the victim and capturing their web traffic through a man in the middle style attack that redirects traffic to a phishing site and its associated reverse proxy server. This way, the attacker can get between you and the website you’re trying to login to, capturing all the information that goes between the two of you.

After a hacker silently hijacks your traffic and grabs those cookies, they can access your account for as long as the cookie lasts. In some cases, such as social media accounts, this can take quite a while, The Record Notes.

It’s all a bit bummed, because in recent years 2FA much viewed as an effective method of identity verification and account security. On the other hand, recent studies have also shown that many people don’t even bother introducing 2FA in the first place, which, if true, means we probably have bigger fish to fry in the web security department.


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