Adversaries may attempt to position themselves between two or more networked devices to support follow-on behaviors such as Transmitted Data Manipulation or Endpoint Denial of Service.

Adversary-in-the-Middle can be achieved through several mechanisms. For example, a malicious application may register itself as a VPN client, effectively redirecting device traffic to adversary-owned resources. Registering as a VPN client requires user consent on both Android and iOS; additionally, a special entitlement granted by Apple is needed for iOS devices. Alternatively, a malicious application with escalation privileges may utilize those privileges to gain access to network traffic.

Specific to Android devices, adversary-in-the-disk is a type of AiTM attack where adversaries monitor and manipulate data that is exchanged between applications and external storage.[1][2][3] To accomplish this, a malicious application firsts requests for access to multimedia files on the device (READ_EXTERNAL STORAGE and WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE), then the application reads data on the device and/or writes malware to the device. Though the request for access is common, when used maliciously, adversaries may access files and other sensitive data due to abusing the permission. Multiple applications were shown to be vulnerable against this attack; however, scrutiny of permissions and input validations may mitigate this attack.

Outside of a mobile device, adversaries may be able to capture traffic by employing a rogue base station or Wi-Fi access point. These devices will allow adversaries to capture network traffic after it has left the device, while it is flowing to its destination. On a local network, enterprise techniques could be used, such as ARP Cache Poisoning or DHCP Spoofing.

If applications properly encrypt their network traffic, sensitive data may not be accessible to adversaries, depending on the point of capture. For example, properly implementing Apple’s Application Transport Security (ATS) and Android’s Network Security Configuration (NSC) may prevent sensitive data leaks.[4]

ID: T1638
Sub-techniques:  No sub-techniques
Tactic Type: Post-Adversary Device Access
Tactic: Collection
Platforms: Android, iOS
Version: 2.2
Created: 05 April 2022
Last Modified: 07 February 2024

Procedure Examples

ID Name Description
S0288 KeyRaider

Most KeyRaider samples hook SSLRead and SSLWrite functions in the itunesstored process to intercept device communication with the Apple App Store.[5]

S0407 Monokle

Monokle can install attacker-specified certificates to the device's trusted certificate store, enabling an adversary to perform adversary-in-the-middle attacks.[6]

S1062 S.O.V.A.

S.O.V.A. has included adversary-in-the-middle capabilities.[7]


ID Mitigation Description
M1009 Encrypt Network Traffic

Applications that properly encrypt network traffic may evade some forms of AiTM behavior.

M1006 Use Recent OS Version

Recent OS versions have made it more difficult for applications to register as VPN providers.


ID Data Source Data Component Detects
DS0041 Application Vetting Protected Configuration

Application vetting services should look for applications that request VPN access. These applications should be heavily scrutinized since VPN functionality is not very common.

DS0029 Network Traffic Network Connection Creation

Mobile security products can potentially detect rogue Wi-Fi access points if the adversary is attempting to decrypt traffic using an untrusted SSL certificate.

DS0042 User Interface Permissions Request

On both Android and iOS, the user must grant consent to an application to act as a VPN. Both platforms also provide visual context to the user in the top status bar when a VPN connection is active. The user can see registered VPN services in the device settings.