LinkedIn vulnerable to MITM attack that leverages an SSL stripping could expose users data at risk

Pierluigi Paganini June 19, 2014

Security experts at Zimperium firm revealed that LinkedIn users could be potentially vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle attacks leveraging an SSL stripping.

A new research is scaring users of LinkedIn revealing that they could be potentially vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks leveraging an SSL stripping. Despite the US security firm Zimperium reported the problem to LinkedIn more than a year ago, the security issue is still unresolved.

During the MITM attack, the attacker will strip all https:// requests to http:// in order to access the victim’s traffic in plain text and to operate without restriction on it.

Zimperium contacted LinkedIn six times over the last year, but the firm replied that it has already planned the deployment of SSL that will fix the problem. In the MITM attack scenario, hackers could extract LinkedIn credentials and other LinkedIn information (Email address, Read and Sent Messages, Connections “Who viewed my profile”), hijack sessions, and of course impersonate the user (Send invitations to connect, Edit the user’s profile, Edit job postings, Manage company pages).

The attacker would have the full control for the compromised profile,  including admin rights to groups and company pages, the bad news is that the attack isn’t overly complex to a skilled attacker.

“Every single user we tested was vulnerable to this attack. In addition, this vulnerability doesn’t just exist when an attacker is on the same network as the target – if an attacker has already compromised a device, once that device enters a different network, the attacker can use the victim’s device to attack other users on the same network,” reported Zimperium in a blog post.

As explained by Zimperium every account is vulnerable even if it isn’t on the same network of the attacker, “the attacker can use the victim’s device to attack other users on the same network.

Zimperium provided a proof of concept to demonstrate the feasibility of the attack, its experts used their own tools and accounts, anyway on the market numerous software implements feature to conduct a MITM attack, a circumstance that is advantaged by the presence of the attacker on the same network segment of the victim.

LinkedIn Zimperium Tools for MITM

LinkedIn has replied to the accusation with an official statement, reassuring its users saying that the security issue doesn’t impact all of its accounts, but only some of them.

“LinkedIn is committed to protecting the security of our membersIn December 2013 we started transitioning the LinkedIn site to default HTTPS and just last week announced that we are serving all traffic to all users in US and EU by default over HTTPS. This issue does not impact the vast majority of LinkedIn members given our ongoing global release of HTTPS by default.”

The reply of Zimperium is that:

[there] “are still seeing many instances of this new setting not being enabled on existing or new LinkedIn accounts in the US and Europe.” “Our initial test suggests for existing accounts that deleting authentication cookies still resident in a user’s browser might fix this issue, however this has not been consistently the case.”

LinkedIn users accessing their accounts from in a public place, like an airport lounge or a conference center, are exposed to the risk of attack.

Of course, adopting a protocol to secure the communication could solve the problem, waiting for a definitive solution by the company users can manually enable it on their accounts following these simple steps:
  • Enable a security setting on the site that results in serving all traffic in https://.
  • To do this, click “Review Privacy & Settings” on the drop-down menu that appears when you hover over your account icon.
  • Select “Account,” “Manage security settings”,
  • Check the box that says, “A secure connection will be used when you are browsing LinkedIn.”

“All the communications will be encrypted when you’re already logged into your session and browsing through https://. However, if you attempt to log in by typing instead of, the hacker will still be able to steal your email and password so make sure that you type https:// whenever you login to linkedin’s service.” reports the post

Social media are a privileged target of cyber criminals and state-sponsored hackers, they contain a huge quantity of information that could be exploited by attackers for cyber espionage or  fraud schema, take care of your account and let’s hope that social media company will do the same.

you might also like

leave a comment