Analyzing Quantum Insert Attacks
A Quantum Insert Attack is a classic example of man-in-the-middle attacks which resurfaced into news among the top 10 biggest leaks by WikiLeaks founder Edward Snowden. The NSA and Britain’s GCHQ intelligence services allegedly used it against OPEC and Belgacom successfully for their benefit. In short – Quantum is a code name for the servers which are strategically placed by NSA and GCHQ that can respond faster to a request than the intended recipient. The attacker would need monitoring capabilities to successfully attack the victim. Once the quantum servers win the race condition against the original response, the attacker can steal sensitive data like login credentials, bank account details, and credit card numbers or even spread a malware which can work in tandem with a botnet C&C server.
Understanding the attack
The attack begins with the attacker gaining monitoring capabilities into the victim’s network. In a government sponsored attack, the monitoring capabilities can be gained by Internet Service Providers and in the case of cyber espionage crimes, having access within a network looking to move laterally inside. This kind of attack is generally not used for large scale attacks, instead the attacker is very well aware of his target and most frequently used websites. In the past, Snowden leaks revealed that LinkedIn and Slashdot users have been targeted for attacks. The crux of the attack is in winning the race condition against the legitimate response packets. The schematic diagram here will help you understand better: