Active attack definition
An active attack is when an attacker attempts to break into a system and change the existing data, affect operations, or take control of the hardware device. Another term for an active attack is “hacking.” Some well-known examples of active attacks include man-in-the-middle and denial of service attacks.
Active attack vs. passive attack
- An active attack involves an attacker attempting to alter or control system resources. This type of attack can be detected relatively easily.
- A passive attack is when a malicious party monitors the user’s communication. Passive attacks are harder to detect because they don’t affect the system.
Active attack examples
- MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks. In a MITM attack, a hacker intercepts a conversation between two parties — the user and the entity they’re communicating with (e.g., an application).
- Session hijacking. A session hijacking attack is when the hacker compromises a web session to gain unauthorized access to the user’s online account or device.
- DoS (denial of service) attack. This type of attack aims to shut down a network or machine and make it inaccessible to its users.
See also: man-in-the-middle attack, session hijacking, DDoS