The art of detecting and avoiding the Sneaky NSA ‘Quantum Insert’ Attacks

Have you ever heard this word known as Quantum excluding the James Bond movie? You may have gone through this word in physics. According to physics, a quantum is the smallest or minimal amount of physical entity which is participating in any interaction. So how does this relate to our current topic? Well, a similar kind of concept was used in IT industry to steal sensitive data with the minimal amount of entity interaction.

What is ‘Quantum Insert’ Attack?

Quantum is a code name for servers which are placed by NSA and GCHQ. This code can respond faster to the request as compared to its actual recipient’s request. The attacker constantly monitors the victim and once the quantum server wins the race against the original request, the attacker wins!

The rewards for this race are critical as they include credentials like login details, credit card numbers and bank account details. Not only this, the attacker also receives a jackpot. The attacker can spread malware which can work in a consequent queue with a botnet C&C server.

So How Does it Work?

The most important thing in ‘Quantum Insert’ attack is that the attacker needs to constantly monitor your network. If it’s a government sponsored attack, then Internet Service Providers provide monitoring capabilities.

First of all the attacker is constantly monitoring the target. Once the target initiates a particular connection to any website, the quantum server is initiated. Quantum Server is configured in such a way that few conditions are to be fulfilled. Once the victim satisfies those set of conditions, the attacker is notified.
Quantum servers now fire a response to the original request by victim. The victim now has a malicious payload and attacker has full control of it. What about the original response (packets) from the server? They are simply discarded.

How Can You Detect if You Are a Victim or Not?

‘Quantum Insert’ attack does not come with a manual, so there is limited knowledge regarding it. So let us know some basic techniques for detecting these attacks:


Payload inconsistency

If you are good with tracking and monitoring your packets, or even using good packet tracing software’s, then you must try out this technique. Analyzing the TCP packet’s payload data is what you can do. This technique never guarantees that you will be able to detect an attack.


The TTL game

TTL or Time To Live values can vary between packets and when it comes to ‘Quantum Insert’ attack, packets usually have longer TTL. The reason for having longer TTL is that the packet may be deployed later than the actual packet.


Detecting Intrusions

Intrusion Detection Systems or popularly known as IDS are able to detect a QI attack. The detection system analyzes network data that is being transmitted and is compared against a database of packet capture.

Avoiding ‘Quantum Insert’ Attacks?

Avoiding ‘Quantum Insert’ attacks require basic knowledge of online tracking and staying anonymous. ‘Quantum Insert’ may be avoided by any one of these:

  • Encrypting Data
  • VPN Services
  • TOR Browsing
  • Anti-malware
  • Disable Web Tracking

So what I conclude from the above article is that ‘Quantum Attacks’ are extremely dangerous, but if you are not a big shot or a VIP, then you should not worry about ‘Quantum Attacks’ as attackers are always looking for such people. They won’t be monitoring you for hacking your FaceBook account. But you can surely avoid ‘Quantum Attacks’ by the above techniques if you are in some dilemma.