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ARP Poisoning Attack

This ethical hacking guide explains what ARP spoofing is, how ARP spoofing attack works, types of ARP poisoning attacks and its prevention in cyber security.

What is ARP Spoofing?

ARP spoofing, also known as ARP poisoning, is a cyberattack technique that involves manipulating ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) to associate a rogue MAC address with a legitimate IP address.

This false association can lead to various forms of network attacks, primarily MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks.

Understanding ARP

The Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is a crucial protocol used in local area networks (LANs) to map IP addresses to MAC (Media Access Control) addresses. Each device on a network has a unique MAC address, which is used for hardware communication.

ARP's primary function is to resolve the IP address of a device into its corresponding MAC address.

ARP Spoofing Techniques

Techniques used in ARP poisoning attacks include:

  1. ARP Cache Poisoning
  2. Man-in-the-Middle Attacks
  3. ARP Proxy Spoofing
  4. Dynamic ARP Spoofing

How does an ARP Spoofing Attack Work?

In an ARP spoofing attack, the attacker sends fraudulent ARP responses to other devices on the network, associating their MAC address with a legitimate IP address. By doing so, they create confusion among devices on the network, leading to traffic being sent to the attacker's system instead of the intended recipient.

The attack usually involves the following steps:

Step-1: Discovery

The attacker scans the local network to identify potential targets, such as devices or routers, by sending ARP requests. This allows them to gather information about the IP-MAC address mappings of the devices on the network.

Step-2: ARP Cache Poisoning

The attacker sends falsified ARP messages onto the network, claiming to be another device. They associate their own MAC address with the IP address of the target device in the ARP tables of other devices on the network. This can be achieved by sending ARP replies with spoofed source IP and MAC addresses.

Step-3: ARP Table Modification

As the falsified ARP messages propagate through the network, devices update their ARP tables with the manipulated mappings. This causes legitimate devices to send network traffic intended for the target device to the attacker's MAC address instead.

Step-4: Intercepting or Modifying Traffic

With the ARP cache successfully poisoned, the attacker can intercept or modify the network traffic flowing between the legitimate devices. This enables them to perform various malicious activities, such as eavesdropping on sensitive data, injecting malicious packets, or altering the contents of the communication.

Step-5: Stealth and Persistence

To maintain their control over the network, attackers may employ stealth techniques to avoid detection. This can include periodically re-sending falsified ARP messages to ensure their mappings stay active in the ARP tables of the targeted devices.

Prevention and Mitigation

Various countermeasures and best practices can be employed to prevent ARP spoofing attacks. Some effective mitigation strategies include:

1. Use Static ARP Entries

Manually configure static ARP entries on critical devices, ensuring that IP-MAC address mappings are not easily manipulated.

2. ARP Spoofing Detection Software

Deploy dedicated tools and software that can detect and respond to ARP spoofing attacks in real-time. These tools can automatically take action to mitigate the impact of spoofed entries.

3. ARP Cache Timeouts

Configure short ARP cache timeouts on network devices. When entries in the ARP cache expire quickly, it limits the effectiveness of spoofed entries.

4. Network Segmentation

Segment the network into smaller, isolated subnetworks. This reduces the scope of an ARP attack, as attackers cannot easily target devices in other segments.

5. Encryption

Implement encryption protocols, such as HTTPS for web traffic, to protect data from being intercepted and manipulated during transit.

6. MAC Address Filtering

Restrict the devices that can communicate with a given network. By controlling which devices are allowed to connect, you can reduce the likelihood of ARP spoofing attacks.


The aim of an ARP spoofing attack is to manipulate ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) messages to associate the attacker's MAC address with the IP address of a legitimate network device, enabling the attacker to intercept, manipulate, or redirect network traffic for malicious purposes.

An ARP poisoning attack results in network traffic intended for the device being redirected to the attacker's device, enabling interception and possible modification of data.

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