Methodology used to perform Session Hijacking or “Cookie Hijacking” 

No one wants their expensive cookies to be taken. And no, we’re not referring to a thief breaking into your kitchen to steal your cookie jar’s wonderful contents. Session hijacking is the subject here.

You can be unwittingly at risk from this hazardous type of cyberattack. A recent Stake study really discovered that 31% of e-commerce applications are susceptible to session hijacking. Session hijacking, also known as cookie hijacking, is a kind of attack that can allow a hacker to take complete control of one of your internet accounts.

The fact that we log into so many different websites each day makes the idea of session hijacking quite unsettling. Consider how many websites you visit every day that demand a login using a set of credentials. It’s a number that’s much higher than simply one or two for the vast majority of us. As more online services become a part of our more “connected” existence, this figure has probably been continuously increasing over time. The consequences can be disastrous because we now save incredibly sensitive information, such credit card or social security numbers, anywhere online.

So, exactly how does session hijacking operate? What are the various ways that attackers can carry it out? What can you do to defend yourself against their efforts?

Let’s discuss it.

What is a Session?

Let’s first go over the definition of a “session” in detail before discussing session hijacking. HTTP is essentially stateless, which means that each request is processed separately and without being aware of any previous requests. Practically speaking, this implies that you would need to re-enter your username and password for each page you saw. In order to avoid forcing users to re-authenticate after each click in a web application, the developers had to come up with a solution to track the state over many connections from the same user.

The answer is sessions. They function as a succession of exchanges between two gadgets, like your PC and a web server. An application session is started on the server when you log in. This preserves the state and serves as a reference for any ensuing queries you make.

These sessions are used by applications to track user-specific parameters and remain active as long as the user remains connected to the system. The session is destroyed when you log out or after a period of inactivity. At this point, user data will be removed from the allocated space.

session IDs are an important part of this process. They are a string of characters, usually random and alphanumeric, that is sent back and forth between the server and the client.

A URL containing a session ID might look like:

On an HTML page, a session ID may be stored as a hidden field:

<input type=”hidden” name=”sessionID” value=”19D5Y3B”>

While Session IDs are pretty useful, there also are capability safety troubles related to their use. If a person receives your consultation ID, they could basically log in on your account on that website. One not unusualplace difficulty is that many webweb sites generate consultation IDs primarily based totally on predictable variables just like the present day time or the user’s IP address, which makes them smooth for an attacker to determine. Another difficulty is that with out SSL/TLS, they’re transmitted withinside the open and are at risk of eavesdropping. And unfortunately, those varieties of vulnerabilities can depart you uncovered to consultation hijacking.

What is a Session Hijacking?

When a user session is hijacked by an attacker, this is known as session hijacking. As we previously explained, the server places a temporary session cookie in your browser when you log in to an online application. This enables the remote server to keep track of your login and authentication information. This type of attack is also known as cookie hijacking because it necessitates the attacker’s knowledge of your session cookie. On the web, it’s one of the most widely used techniques for compromising client authentication.

In order to do session hijacking, a hacker has to be aware of the victim’s session ID. In addition to stealing the session cookie, it can also be acquired by fooling the user into visiting a malicious link that has a preset session ID (more on that later). In any case, the attacker can take over the session by utilising their own browser session and the stolen session ID. In essence, the server is duped into believing that the attacker’s connection and the authentic user’s initial session are identical.

Once the session has been taken over, the hacker has access to all of the original user’s privileges. This may entail making false purchases, obtaining comprehensive personal data that might be used to commit identity theft, stealing sensitive company information, or even just emptying your bank account, depending on the website that has been targeted. A hacker may take and encrypt priceless data, making it a simple way to conduct a ransomware attack.

Due to the fact that single sign-on systems frequently employ cookies to authenticate users, the effects could be substantially severe for larger businesses (SSO). It implies that a successful attack might grant the perpetrator access to many online services simultaneously, including financial systems, customer databases, and storage facilities housing priceless intellectual property. Session hijacking, regardless of your identity, does not benefit anyone.

So how exactly does session hijacking work? Hackers can choose from a few different strategies.

Common techniques for hijacking sessions

Fixation on a session

Attacks known as session fixation take advantage of a system flaw that enables users to fixate (also known as locate or set) the session ID of another user. The target of this attack must have a website that accepts session IDs from URLs, most frequently through phishing attacks. For instance, an attacker may send a user who has been selected for assault a link with a specific session ID. The attacker will be aware of the session ID being used after the victim clicks the link and signs into the website. It can then be employed to take over the session. Following is the exact order of attack:

An attacker discovers that has no security checks and accepts any session identification.

  1. The perpetrator sends a phishing email to the victim with the subject line, “Hello Mark, check out this new account feature from our bank.”
  2. The victim is sent to by the link. The attacker is attempting to fixation the session ID to 123456 in this instance.
  3. After the victim clicks the link, the standard login page appears. The victim logs in normally and there don’t seem to be any issues.
  4. The attacker now has full access to the victim’s account and can access it by going to

The victim wouldn’t even need to log in to the website for a variation of this assault. The attacker would instead focus the session to eavesdrop on the victim and keep track of the data they enter. It’s essentially the opposite of the case we just talked about. The victim accesses the website using the attacker’s authentication after the attacker logs them in themselves. The attacker can obtain the credit card information by checking at the account’s past data, for instance, if the victim decides to make a purchase.

Monitoring sessions

Hackers that use a packet sniffer like Wireshark to capture and record packets as they pass through a network connection are said to be engaging in session sniffing. This traffic includes session cookies, which an attacker can discover and take advantage of using session sniffing.