SSL Stripping

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SSL Strip for Newbies Thanks to Moxie Marlinspike

Are you ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know about an SSL Strip? Then read on…

In general, SSL Strip is a technique by which a website is downgraded from https to http.

I want to give you a brief background about the creator of this vulnerability, a well-known computer security researcher Moxie Marlinspike @moxie. He presented this flaw in Black Hat 2009 in DC. He was also the Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Whisper Technologies, which was later acquired by Twitter in late 2011.


HTTP and HTTPS are the application-layer protocols in TCP/IP model, as illustrated in figure below. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. A protocol is a set of rules that are defined by a standard committee like ANSI and IEEE. On the other hand, HTTPS uses a secure tunnel to transfer and receive data. This secure tunnel is commonly called as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and therefore the suffix ‘S’ is added to HTTPS. Both HTTP and HTTPS are illustrated in following figure where you can see SSL on top of HTTP.

Figure 1

In SSL Strip, all the traffic from the victim’s machine is routed via a proxy that is created by the attacker. It can be thought of as a Man-In-the-Middle attack (MITM). I will not deny the fact that it is an MITM attack, but besides that, there is much more as we dig into the details.

Let us assume that you are an attacker and you are able to establish a connection between the victim and the server. Now all the traffic from the victim’s machine will flow via your computer that serves as a Proxy server, but it will either result in a certificate error or you will capture the encrypted traffic, which is of no use to us.

Then how is SSL strip different from attacks like MITM?

Let’s take a scenario in which there is a Victim machine (A),an Attacker machine (B) and a server(C), as illustrated in Fig below.SSL strip is running on the attacker machine, which is a proxy server; hence, there is no direct connection between the victim and the server.

Figure 3

Victim A wants to transfer money from his account using an online banking service and he enters the following URL into the address bar of the browser:

In the background, the victim’s browser that is connected to the attacker’s machine waits for the response from the server. Attacker B forwards the victim A’s request and waits for the response from the bank server. The connection between B and C is secure, which means that all the traffic that is transferred between them (B & C) is through the SSL tunnel.

The Bank server responds with the login page that has the following URL:

At this stage, the attacker has access to the login page. Next, attacker(B) modifies the response from the server from https to http and sends it to victim (A), which results in the browser now being addressed to

At this point, the victim has access to the internet banking login page with an insecure connection with the attacker. From this point onwards, all the victim’s requests go out in the Plain text format and the attacker can sniff the data and collect the credentials.

The Server thinks it has successfully established the connection, which in this scenario is between the attacker and the server (i.e., between B & C), while the victim (A) also thinks that it is a legitimate Server (C).

The real beauty of SSL stripping is that your browser won’t display any SSL Certificate errors and the victims have no clue that such an attack is going on.

This attack is also known as HTTP-downgrading attacks, where the connection established by the victim’s browser is downgraded from HTTPs to HTTP.

   Setup of the Attack Environment: 

SSL Strip attacks can be implemented in a number of ways. Three of the most common methods are listed below:

   Manually set the proxy of the browser to route all traffic
   ARP Poisoning
   Create a Hotspot and allow the victims connect to it

I will explain the 3rd one in which my hotspot will act as the Proxy server.

Figure 4

For this attack, all you need is a Kali Linux machine with a WiFi Adapter that is able to work in the Promiscuous[1] mode. Most of the latest laptop NIC cards will work and you also need to download a shell script that will perform the configuration and download all the required tools.

So let us begin the hack:

   Download the bash script, which makes your life easier, as it will perform the configuration and download all the dependencies required for this attack. Navigate to the home folder and run this command in the terminal.

$ cd ~

$ git clone

   Navigate to easy-creds folder, change the executable permission and run the

$cd easy-creds

$sudochmod +x

$sudo ./

Figure 5

   The script will run and ask for the OS you are using. Select the Debian/Ubuntu and press Enter.

Figure 6

   Provide the path where you want to install easy-creds. I am using /opt. You can also choose /usr/bin or add your own path in $PATH environment variable. For the sake of simplicity, just type /opt.

Figure 7

   Next, easy-creds will download and install all the dependencies as below:
   SSL strip: For downgrading request https to http
   airodump-ng: To start WLAN in promiscuous mode
   airbase-ng: To create a hotspot
   ettercap: For sniffing data
   urlsniff: For authentic real-time display of request from the victim’s machine
   DHCP server and more

Figure 8

   After easy-creds is successfully installed, run it by typing easy-creds. Undue attention to other attacks isn’t necessary. Just choose the 3FakeAP Attacks, which is relevant to this article.

Figure 9

   Choose the option 1 FakeAP Attack Static.

Figure 10

   Type N for side-jacking attack. This isn’t necessary right now.

Figure 11

   Choose the Interface that is connected to the internet.
   Choose the NIC card or USB adapter interface name that is used for creating a Hotspot.
   ESSID field is used to set a name (such asFreeWifi, MacDwifi and Companyname, etc.) for the hotspot.

Figure 12

   Select the channel. I usually choose channel 11.
   You can see the monitor interface created by airmon-ng. Choose the one which you want to use, for example, mon0.
   You can change the MAC address of the Wi-Fi hotspot as you like. For purposes of this discussion we are not required to do it.
   Select the tunnel interface created by airbase-ng usually it is at0.
   To assign the IP address automatically, we need to configure the DHCP server in our machine. Provide the IP range and subnet along with the DNS server to be used.

Figure 13

Now, around 5 small windows will open up and our Attacker’s Hotspot (AttackWIFI)is waiting for the victim to connect to it. Once the victim is connected, an IP address will be assigned and all the traffic will forwarded to the attacker’s machine.

Wait for some time until the victim fills the credentials in the login form. The ettercap will sniff the data and display them in a readable clear text form. You can also check the Logs from ettercap and sslstrip for later analysis.

Figure 14

Protection: SSLstrip is a difficult attack to prevent in a Web app, but there are several steps that can be taken to mitigate this risk.