How Spoofing occurs | 5 Ways to Defend yourself Against it

No matter which type of Spoofing is used, the basics are always the same. Whereby, the hacker deceives their victims by pretending to be someone they are not. To understand how spoofing works, let’s think of a classic Wolf in Sheep’s clothing.

Whereby, the wolf — in this case, the spoofer — dresses up as a sheep. And by doing so, is welcomed as a friend by the other sheep. Once the hacker has obtained the victim’s trust, the danger becomes apparent.

How Spoofing occurs

As an example, email and phone spoofers manipulate their victims into turning over sensitive personal information. Leading to financial fraud or identity theft. Hackers frequently use email spoofing to ensnare victims in phishing campaigns.

Other types of spoofing tend to be targeted at networks rather than individuals. With the goals of spreading malware, stealing data, bypassing security systems, or laying the groundwork for subsequent attacks.

What is Spoofing?

Spoofing refers to any type of cybercrime that happens when a hacker impersonates a known contact or source. We can define spoofing as encompassing a variety of tactics all reliant on the hacker’s ability to pass themselves off as someone else.

By all means, spoofing can happen anytime when a hacker pretends to be someone known by a person or network in order to access sensitive information. More often, in pursuit of financial gain.

In addition, spoofing can also happen on a deeper technical level, such as with DNS or IP address spoofing. In this article, you’ll learn what spoofing is, how spoofing works, and how you can defend against these attacks.

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Some spoofers disguise their communications, such as emails or phone calls, so that they appear to be coming from a person or organization their intended victim trusts.

Spoofing in network security involves fooling a computer or network via a falsified IP address. While fooling a computer happens by redirecting internet traffic at the DNS level, or by faking ARP data within a local access network (LAN).

What is the difference between spoofing and phishing?

Phishing scams involve “luring” victims in with bait — such as fake emails — and tricking them into providing sensitive personal data that can then be used for identity theft. And as I will mention, there are several different types of spoofing.

Spoofing at the DNS or IP address level is completely different than phishing. As it involves using technical means to trick a computer or network. Email spoofing and phishing are very similar and are frequently used together.

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Recall that spoofing attacks make it appear as though the hacker’s communications are coming from a trusted source. Since the goal of phishing is to fool victims into disclosing sensitive personal information, many phishers use spoofing. Helping trick their victims into believing their email is legitimate.

Some phishers mass-mail their fraudulent emails to as many targets as possible. Without going through the extra trouble to spoof a trusted source. As a result, most of these emails wind up exactly where they belong: in the spam folder.

More clever hackers will use spoofing to make their phishing email much more believable, and therefore more likely to succeed.

What is Email Spoofing?

Email spoofing is when a hacker creates and sends emails from a forged email address that their intended victim will recognize, such as one used by their bank.

When it comes to corporate settings, hackers may impersonate high-ranking executives or business partners. While requesting insider information from the employees. Email spoofing is a common hacking practice due to the way email is designed.

Related Article: Ensure mail delivery & prevent spoofing (SPF)

It’s an open and relatively unsecured system that allows people around the world to easily send messages to each other.

Unfortunately, this openness also leaves it open to abuse by malicious actors like spoofers. Not to mention, there are even email spoofing websites out there that allow hackers to quickly spoof emails online.

Which are Email Spoofing warning signs?

In early 2019, Mumbai-based paint company Asian Paints fell victim to a massive email spoofing attack. In which the hackers pretended to be one of the company’s suppliers.

The good news is that spoofing can be stopped. Especially, if you know what to look for. Below, I’ll outline several telltale signs that can help you detect an email spoofing attack.

1. Generic email domain and greeting:

Emails from financial institutions and other companies will be sent from their official domain.

If you’ve received an email that looks real, but that’s coming from an address at a free email provider — such as [email protected] — you might be dealing with a spoofer.

As for generic greeting, most companies will refer to you by name. So, be skeptical of emails that open with “Dear customer” or that address you by your email username.

2. Personal information requests:

There are companies and employers out there that already have all your information that they need.

However, they shouldn’t email you to request things like your user credentials or credit card information.

3. Strange attachments:

Some spoofers will attempt to slide through your spam filters by placing the malicious content of their email in an attachment.

As such, be especially on-guard for .HTML or .EXE attachments, as these may install malware on your device. Always avoid unknown attachments and links when you receive a suspicious email.

4. Inconsistent mistakes:

What about mistakes and inconsistencies? Does the sender’s name match the email address they used? Are there any spelling or grammatical errors in the content of the email? Is your name spelled correctly?

Legitimate companies won’t make these types of careless typos in the emails they send to their customers.

5. Forced urgency and URL typos:

Spoofers want you to make snap decisions before you’ve had time to think things through, which is why they pour on the pressure.

  • Your account will be closed!
  • You’re going to be fined!
  • The government is going to sue you!

The more panic the hacker can induce, the higher the chances of their victim falling for the scam.

As for the URL typos, many spoofers try and fool victims into visiting spoofed versions of entire websites. They’ll attempt to pass their site off as the real thing.

They do so by using a few “clever” spelling tricks. Such as replacing a lowercase L with a capital I, or by using a different domain extension.

Which are the Best practices for email authentication?

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication method that specifies the mail servers authorized to send an email for your domain

SPF helps protect your domain from spoofing and helps ensure that your messages are delivered correctly. Mail servers that get mail from your domain normally use SPF. Particularly, to verify that messages that appear to come from your domain actually are from your domain.

SPF helps prevent spoofing

Spammers can forge your domain or organization to send fake messages that appear to come from your organization. This is called spoofing.

Spoofed messages can be used for malicious purposes, for example, to communicate false information, to send out harmful software, or to trick people into giving out sensitive information.

SPF helps the receiving servers verify that mail sent from your domain is actually from your organization. And that it’s sent by a mail server you authorized.

SPF helps deliver messages to recipients’ inboxes

SPF helps prevent messages from your domain from being delivered to spam.

If your domain doesn’t use SPF, receiving mail servers can’t verify that messages appearing to be from your domain actually are from you. Receiving servers might send valid messages to recipients’ spam folders or might reject valid messages.

NB: If you bought your domain from a Google partner when you signed up for G Suite, you might not need to set up SPF records. In that case, you can check if SPF is one of the Settings managed by your domain host.

By all means, I recommend you always set up an email authentication using the best-preferred methods for your domain.

The best-preferred methods include:
  • SPF helps servers verify that messages appearing to come from a particular domain are sent from servers authorized by the domain owner.
  • DKIM adds a digital signature to every message. This lets receiving servers verify that messages aren’t forged, and weren’t changed during transit.
  • DMARC enforces SPF and DKIM authentication and lets admins get reports about message authentication and delivery.

For detailed steps, go to Help prevent spoofing, phishing, and spam.

What is IP spoofing?

IP spoofing happens at a deeper level of the internet than email spoofing. When a hacker uses this technique, they’re messing with one of the web’s basic protocols. Every device that connects to the internet does so from an IP address.

Bearing in mind, an IP address is a string of numbers that tells other devices where it is. When your device sends information into the internet, it does so in a series of packets. And each packet contains your device’s IP address.

This way, every device on the internet knows who is saying what. Many closed networks are configured to only accept packets from a pre-approved range of IP addresses. This is a security measure to prevent unknown devices from getting inside.

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A hacker can use an IP spoofing attack to change the IP address of their device and fool one of these networks into opening up the doors. You can hide your IP address to prevent hackers from disguising themselves as you.

IP spoofing is especially popular for DDoS attacks, where a hacker overloads a network by flooding it with incoming traffic. It’s easy for the target to block traffic from a single IP address.

But with IP spoofing, the hacker can make their traffic appear as though it’s coming from multiple sources. This makes it much more difficult for the target to respond. Below are other examples of spoofing:

1. ARP spoofing:

This allows a hacker to infiltrate a LAN by masking their computer as a network member.

Hackers use ARP spoofing to steal information with Man-In-the-Middle attacks. The hacker secretly intercepts a conversation and impersonates both participants, thereby collecting all the information being discussed.

2. DNS spoofing:

Also known as DNS cache poisoning, this technique diverts victims from one website to another.

The hacker will “poison” the target website’s listing in a DNS server by changing its associated IP address to one of their choosing, which then redirects victims to fraudulent websites that harvest personal data or download malware onto their computers.

This is a common technique in pharming attacks.

3. Website spoofing:

When a hacker creates a fake version of a real website, they’re performing website spoofing.

The replica sites look just like the real thing, and when users log in, the hacker obtains their credentials.

4. GPS spoofing:

Some people may seek to misrepresent their physical location in the world by faking their GPS coordinates.

Any mobile app that relies on smartphone location data is a potential target for GPS spoofing attacks.

5. Caller ID spoofing:

This one is popular with robocallers because they can make their calls appear as though they are coming from either a trusted number or a specific geographic region.

Once the victim answers the phone, the attacker will attempt to convince them to divulge sensitive information. Caller ID spoofing can also be used to send spoofed text messages.

How do you protect yourself against spoofing?

Because spoofing can be used in such a wide variety of ways, it can be a challenge to spot every attack. That’s why it’s so important to equip yourself with strong, reliable internet security.

For example, to be on the safe side, the Avast Antivirus constantly scans for any incoming threats. Keeping you protected against the phishing and malware attacks that spoofers love. See! You don’t have to go it alone.

Having said that, you can learn more about how spoofing can be prevented with these helpful tips:

Stay sharp:

Remain vigilant against the most common types of spoofing.

Be on your guard for the signs of a spoofing attack, and you’ll have a much lower chance of getting fooled.

Call to confirm:

If you’re being asked to submit personal information, such as a password or credit card number, call the sender to confirm — using the contact number listed on their real website.

Manually enter their URL into your browser, check the website for signs of website spoofing, and don’t click any links in the suspicious email you received.

Be wary of strange attachments:

Never open attachments that you aren’t already expecting to receive, especially if they have abnormal file extensions.

Regularly change your passwords:

If a spoofer manages to obtain your login credentials, they won’t be able to do much damage if you already have a new password.

Create strong passwords that are hard for others to guess, and use a password manager to store them securely.

Check before you click:

Hover over any links before clicking through so that you’ll know ahead of time where you’re going.

If you do decide to click, confirm the URL after the page loads to ensure you weren’t redirected.

Report spoofing attempts:

Of course, if you’ve received a spoofed email or other communication, let the supposed sender know that they’ve been spoofed.

This can help to prevent future spoofing attacks. Most companies will have a page on their website where you can report spoofing and other security issues.

Takeaway,

Since spoofing attacks can come in so many different shapes, it’s understandable if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

And as I mentioned earlier, the Avast Free Antivirus includes multiple advanced features that work in concert for real-time threat detection.

With their Web Shield and Email Shield at your side, you’ll be protected against the phishing emails and websites spoofers love to create. Therefore, stay safe online with the free antivirus solution trusted by millions of people worldwide.

Not forgetting, you can donate and support our blog articles‘ research work as well as other projects here. You can also Contact Us or even share your additional thoughts and questions in the comments section if you’ll need more help.

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