What is Session Hijacking? Exploring Types, Methods and Prevention.

Session hijacking is a type of cyber attack that involves stealing or taking over a session between two devices. It is a dangerous form of hacking, as it allows the attacker to gain access to sensitive information stored on the victim’s computer. In this article, we will explore the different types, methods and prevention strategies for session hijacking. We will look at how attackers use these techniques to gain access to confidential information and how we can protect ourselves against them.

What is Session Hijacking?

Session hijacking is a type of online attack where the attacker gains control over a user’s session by stealing their session ID or cookie. Session IDs are unique identifiers that are generated by web servers to identify and track user sessions. Attackers can use various methods to steal these IDs, such as packet sniffing, cross-site scripting (XSS), and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

Once an attacker has gained control over a user’s session, they can perform various malicious activities such as accessing sensitive information, making unauthorized transactions, or modifying account settings. One of the most common examples of session hijacking is phishing. When an attacker sends an email to a user, posing as a legitimate company, in order to convince them to click on a link or download an attachment.

Types of Session Hijacking

Session hijacking is a type of cyber attack that targets the user session of a website or application. There are different types of session hijacking methods, such as IP spoofing and man-in-the-middle attacks, which can be used to steal user identity and gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. Here are some common types of session hijacking:

1) Active Session Hijacking 

Active session hijacking is a type of web attack in which an attacker takes over the user’s active session by stealing the session ID. The attacker can then use this stolen ID to impersonate the user, gaining access to sensitive information and performing unauthorized actions. This type of attack is particularly dangerous because it allows attackers to bypass authentication measures and gain control of a legitimate user’s account.

2) Passive Session Hijacking 

Passive session hijacking is a type of session hijacking attack that involves the attacker monitoring and intercepting data packets sent between two parties without interrupting the flow of data. This type of attack is much more difficult to detect than active session hijacking, as it does not involve any direct interaction with the targeted system. Instead, passive session hijackers rely on sniffing tools to capture sensitive information such as login credentials and cookies.

3) Hybrid Hijacking 

Hybrid hijacking is a type of session hijacking that combines the use of both cookie and network-based attacks. In this method, attackers use a combination of cookie stealing and network sniffing to gain unauthorized access to user sessions. The attacker can steal the user’s session ID by intercepting it as it passes through the network or by gaining access to the user’s browser cookies.

Once an attacker has obtained the session ID, they can then use it to impersonate the victim and gain access to confidential information. Hybrid hijacking is particularly dangerous because it allows attackers to bypass security measures such as SSL/TLS encryption, making it difficult for organizations to detect these types of attacks.

What is Session Hijacking? Exploring Types, Methods and Prevention.

Methods of Session Hijacking

Session hijacking is a type of cyber attack where an attacker takes over the user’s session and gains unauthorized access to sensitive information. There are several methods that attackers use to perform session hijacking. Here are some of them:

1. Session fixation: In this method, an attacker fixes or sets the session ID of a user before they log in. When the user logs in, the attacker can use the fixed session ID to take over their session.

2. Cross-site scripting (XSS): An attacker injects malicious code into a vulnerable website, which then runs on a victim’s browser when they visit that site. This code can steal cookies containing session IDs.

3. Session sidejacking: This method involves stealing unencrypted cookies transmitted between a client and server during an active session using tools like Firesheep or Wireshark.

4. Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks: Attackers intercept network traffic between two endpoints and read or modify data before sending it on its way, including stealing cookies containing valid sessions.

Prevention Strategies

To prevent session hijacking, there are several strategies that users can employ. Firstly, it is essential to use strong and unique passwords for each account and update them regularly. Secondly, enabling two-factor authentication provides an extra layer of security by requiring a code in addition to the password for login. Thirdly, using secure protocols such as HTTPS instead of HTTP mitigates MITM attacks by encrypting communication between the client and server.

Users can use secure web applications that encrypt data in transit and at rest. These types of applications are used for online banking and other sensitive transactions. Users should be aware that not all websites are secure and a green lock icon does not guarantee the website is secure.

Preventing session hijacking requires a combination of user awareness and technical measures such as encryption protocols and authentication mechanisms. It is crucial for both individuals and organizations alike to implement these prevention strategies effectively so that they can protect themselves from falling victim to these types of cyberattacks.


In conclusion, session hijacking is a serious security threat that can potentially cause significant harm to organizations and individuals alike. Attackers use various types of methods such as packet sniffing, man-in-the-middle attacks, cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks, and brute-force attacks to gain unauthorized access to users’ sessions.

To prevent session hijacking attacks, there are several effective measures that organizations can implement. These include using secure cookies with HttpOnly and Secure flags enabled, enforcing the use of strong passwords and session timeouts, implementing two-factor authentication (2FA), and regularly monitoring system logs for any suspicious activities.

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