What is passive attack? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Network security glossary:

A passive attack is a network attack in which a system is monitored and sometimes scanned for open ports and vulnerabilities. The purpose is solely to gain information about the target and no data is changed on the target.

Passive attacks include active reconnaissance and passive reconnaissance. In passive reconnaissance, an intruder monitors systems for vulnerabilities without interaction, through methods like session capture. In active reconnaissance, the intruder engages with the target system through methods like port scans.

Methods of passive attacks:
War driving detects vulnerable Wi-Fi networks by scanning them from nearby locations with a portable antenna. The attack is typically carried out from a moving vehicle, sometimes with GPS systems that hackers use to plot out areas with vulnerabilities on a map. War driving can be done just to steal an Internet connection or as a preliminary activity for a future attack.

In dumpster diving, intruders look for information stored on discarded computers and other devices or even passwords in trash bins. The intruders can then use this information to facilitate covert entry to a network or system.

An intruder might masquerade as an authorized network user and spy without interaction. With that access, an intruder might monitor network traffic by setting the network adapter to promiscuous mode.

A passive attack contrasts with an active attack, in which an intruder attempts to alter data on the target system or data en route for the target system.

This was last updated in August 2014
Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • universal authentication

    - Universal authentication is a network identity-verification method that allows users to move from site to site securely without having to enter identifying information multiple times. (WhatIs.com)

  • soft token

    - A soft token is a software-based security token that generates a single-use login PIN. Traditionally, a security token has been a hardware device that produces a new, secure and individual PIN for... (WhatIs.com)

  • FIDO (Fast Identity Online)

    - FIDO (Fast ID Online) is an open standard for a secure and easy-to-use universal authentication interface created to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication devices. The F... (WhatIs.com)

Glossaries

  • Network security

    - Terms related to network security, including definitions about intrusion prevention and words and phrases about VPNs and firewalls.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About passive attackPowered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.