Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Man in the Middle" Attacks - in WWII

This is just fascinating, a man-in-the-middle attack performed in World War II.

Aspidistra is described over at Schneier on Security, a blog everyone should keep an eye on.

Aspidistra was a World War II man-in-the-middle attack. The vulnerability that made it possible was that German broadcast stations were mostly broadcasting the same content from a central source; but during air raids, transmitters in the target area were switched off to prevent them being used for radio direction-finding of the target.

The exploit involved the very powerful (500KW) Aspidistra transmitter, coupled to a directional antenna farm. With that power, they could make it sound like a local station in the target area.

With a staff of fake announcers, a fake German band, and recordings of recent speeches from high-ranking Nazis, they would smoothly switch from merely relaying the German network to emulating it with their own staff. They could then make modifications to news broadcasts, occasionally creating panic and confusion.

Honestly, some days I think there really is nothing new under the sun.