I have a scenario where I evaluate two different types of attacks on a distributed network of nodes (you may also call it a multi agent system).

On the one hand the attacker is able to read incoming and outgoing messages of nodes. That is called a sniffing attack.

On the other hand he may pose as is a valid node (going through registration, etc.) and has access to internal control data that is sent through the distributed network. This can be described as an inside or intruder attack. But is there a more specific name in the literature for this kind of attack?

Thanks in advance

4 Answers 4


I would say a malicious internal actor. Internal actor meaning that he is validly participating in the network, but malicious indicating he's abusing the system.


Normally we call that kind of attack "spoofing". It usually implies that there's some kind of active interaction involved, whereas sniffing is passive.

  • To build on the answer, spoofing also implies some form of masquerade/impersonation with the active interaction involved.
    – RoraΖ
    Aug 26, 2014 at 11:20
  • But in this case the attacker does not impersonate someone. He just is a valid participant. So I think spoofing does not really fit this scenario. Aug 26, 2014 at 11:21
  • I edited the question to make it more clear. Aug 26, 2014 at 11:26

For me, insider attacks and internal attacks perfectly fit your description.

If you want to find a more specific name maybe try to be more specific on what kind of malicious activities the node is carrying out in the network.

The paper [1] is from the field of wireless sensor network (WSN) security. A WSN is a distributed system of sensor nodes. There are definitions of insider and outsider attacks. Also, more specific attacks are presented. Maybe you find some inspiration there.


In the Information Security world, internal attacks or inside malicious attacks are known as Insiders. Someone who can poke, sniff and even can do anything with a trusted identity is an Insider and can install malwares and anything bad.

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