Masquerade Attack

What Does Masquerade Attack Mean?

A masquerade attack is an attack that uses a fake identity, such as a network identity, to gain unauthorized access to personal computer information through legitimate access identification. If an authorization process is not fully protected, it can become extremely vulnerable to a masquerade attack.


Masquerade attacks can be perpetrated using stolen passwords and logons, by locating gaps in programs, or by finding a way around the authentication process. The attack can be triggered either by someone within the organization or by an outsider if the organization is connected to a public network. The amount of access masquerade attackers get depends on the level of authorization they’ve managed to attain. As such, masquerade attackers can have a full smorgasbord of cybercrime opportunities if they’ve gained the highest access authority to a business organization. Personal attacks, although less common, can also be harmful.

Techopedia Explains Masquerade Attack

Masquerade attacks may happen in a number of ways. In case of an insider attack, a masquerade attacker gains access to the account of a legitimate user either by stealing the victim’s account ID and password, or by using a keylogger. Another common method is by exploiting a legitimate user’s laziness and trust. For example, if a legitimate user leaves the terminal or session open and logged in, a co-worker may act as a masquerade attacker.

Vulnerable authentication is one of the other factors that can trigger a masquerade attack, as it helps the attacker to gain access much more easily. Once the attackers gain access, they can get into all of the organization’s critical data and can delete or modify it, steal sensitive data, or alter routing information and network configuration.

For example, although a unique IP address is assigned to each individual computer, a hacker can convince another system that it is the authorized user through spoofing, essentially convincing the target computer that the hacker’s computer has the same IP.

A standard strategy to resist this kind of attack is to create innovative algorithms that can efficiently detect the suspicious actions, which could result in the detection of imposters.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.