In general, a masquerade is a disguise. In terms of communications security issues, a masquerade is a type of attack where the attacker pretends to be an authorized user of a system in order to gain access to it or to gain greater privileges than they are authorized for. A masquerade may be attempted through the use of stolen logon IDs and passwords, through finding security gaps in programs, or through bypassing the authentication mechanism. The attempt may come from within an organization, for example, from an employee; or from an outside user through some connection to the public network. Weak authentication provides one of the easiest points of entry for a masquerade, since it makes it much easier for an attacker to gain access. Once the attacker has been authorized for entry, they may have full access to the organization's critical data, and (depending on the privilege level they pretend to have) may be able to modify and delete software and data, and make changes to network configuration and routing information.
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