An adversary intercepts a form of communication (e.g. text, audio, video) by way of software (e.g., microphone and audio recording application), hardware (e.g., recording equipment), or physical means (e.g., physical proximity). The goal of eavesdropping is typically to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information about the target for financial, personal, political, or other gains. Eavesdropping is different from a sniffing attack as it does not take place on a network-based communication channel (e.g., IP traffic). Instead, it entails listening in on the raw audio source of a conversation between two or more parties.
The table(s) below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf, ParentOf, MemberOf and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
Meta Attack Pattern - A meta level attack pattern in CAPEC is a decidedly abstract characterization of a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. A meta attack pattern is often void of a specific technology or implementation and is meant to provide an understanding of a high level approach. A meta level attack pattern is a generalization of related group of standard level attack patterns. Meta level attack patterns are particularly useful for architecture and design level threat modeling exercises.
Detailed Attack Pattern - A detailed level attack pattern in CAPEC provides a low level of detail, typically leveraging a specific technique and targeting a specific technology, and expresses a complete execution flow. Detailed attack patterns are more specific than meta attack patterns and standard attack patterns and often require a specific protection mechanism to mitigate actual attacks. A detailed level attack pattern often will leverage a number of different standard level attack patterns chained together to accomplish a goal.
The adversary typically requires physical proximity to the target's environment, whether for physical eavesdropping or for placing recording equipment. This is not always the case for software-based eavesdropping, if the adversary has the capability to install malware on the target system that can activate a microphone and record audio digitally.
For logical eavesdropping, some equipment may be necessary (e.g., microphone, tape recorder, etc.). For physical eavesdropping, only proximity is required.
The table below specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Be mindful of your surroundings when discussing sensitive information in public areas.
Implement proper software restriction policies to only allow authorized software on your environment. Use of anti-virus and other security monitoring and detecting tools can aid in this too. Closely monitor installed software for unusual behavior or activity, and implement patches as soon as they become available.
If possible, physically disable the microphone on your machine if it is not needed.
A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful. If multiple weaknesses are associated with the attack pattern, then any of the weaknesses (but not necessarily all) may be present for the attack to be successful. Each related weakness is identified by a CWE identifier.
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed:
July 31, 2018