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What is spoofing?

What is spoofing?

Spoofing is a deceptive technique cybercriminals use to masquerade as trusted entities or devices to deceive and manipulate victims. Spoofers gain the trust of their targets and persuade them to take actions that are beneficial to the hackers but detrimental to the victims. This can include gaining unauthorized access to systems, stealing sensitive data, extracting money, spreading malware, and bypassing access controls.


Understanding spoofing

Spoofing attacks often involve social engineering tactics, where scammers exploit human vulnerabilities such as fear, greed, or lack of technical knowledge. Spoofers can trick individuals into falling for their schemes without raising suspicion by understanding and manipulating these psychological factors.

Read more: What is social engineering and why healthcare is vulnerable 


Types of spoofing attacks

Email spoofing

Email spoofing involves forging email headers to make it appear that the email is from a trusted source. By manipulating the sender's address, scammers can deceive recipients into thinking the email is legitimate, often leading them to transfer money or grant unauthorized access to systems. Spoofed emails may also contain attachments that install malware when opened, compromising the victim's computer or network.


IP spoofing

IP spoofing involves attackers attempting to gain unauthorized access to a network by sending messages with a fake or spoofed IP address. Attackers can deceive network systems and potentially carry out malicious activities by making the messages appear from a trusted source within the network, such as a legitimate internal computer.


Website spoofing

Website spoofing, or URL spoofing, involves scammers creating fraudulent websites that resemble legitimate ones. These spoofed websites often have familiar login pages, stolen logos, and similar branding, making them appear trustworthy. The scammers may send emails containing links to these fake websites, tricking users into entering their login credentials or downloading malware. 


Caller ID or phone spoofing

Caller ID spoofing occurs when scammers manipulate the information sent to the recipient's caller ID, disguising their true identity. By falsifying the caller ID, scammers increase the chances of their calls being answered. They often use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to create a phone number and caller ID of their choice. Once the call is answered, scammers attempt to obtain sensitive information for fraudulent purposes.


Text message spoofing

Text message spoofing, or SMS spoofing, occurs when the sender misleads recipients with fake sender information. Legitimate businesses sometimes use this technique for marketing purposes. Still, scammers also employ it to hide their true identities behind alphanumeric sender IDs. These spoofed texts may contain links to SMS phishing sites or malware downloads. 


ARP spoofing

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) spoofing, or ARP poisoning, involves a malicious actor sending falsified ARP messages over a local area network. By linking their MAC address with the IP address of a legitimate device or server on the network, attackers can intercept, modify, or stop data intended for that IP address. 


DNS spoofing

DNS spoofing, or DNS cache poisoning, occurs when altered DNS records redirect online traffic to fake websites. Spoofers replace the IP addresses stored in DNS servers with their desired ones, tricking users into visiting fraudulent sites. 


GPS spoofing

GPS spoofing involves tricking a GPS receiver into broadcasting fake signals that resemble real ones. This technique allows fraudsters to deceive GPS systems, leading to potential misdirection or interference with navigation. 


Facial spoofing

Facial spoofing occurs when facial recognition technology is deceived by illegally obtained biometric data. Scammers can use this data to impersonate individuals or bypass facial recognition systems for malicious purposes. 

Read also: Display name spoofing: A root cause of many cyberattacks


How to prevent spoofing attacks

While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of spoofing attacks, there are several measures individuals and organizations can take to minimize their exposure:

  • Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unfamiliar sources.
  • Do not answer emails or calls from unrecognized senders.
  • Enable two-factor authentication for added security.
  • Use strong and unique passwords, and change them regularly.
  • Review and adjust online privacy settings.
  • Be cautious about sharing personal information online.
  • Keep network and software up to date with security patches.
  • Be vigilant for signs of spoofing, such as poor grammar or misspelled words.
  • Only visit websites with valid security certificates.
  • Consider reporting spoofing incidents to relevant authorities.

See also: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide 


Paubox ExecProtect vs. display name spoofing

Stops display name-spoofing attacks

Unlike other product offerings, which can only warn recipients of a possible spoof with banners on an email (which are easily ignored by the recipient), ExecProtect quarantines display name-spoofing emails.


Administrators are notified of attacks as they happen

Paubox will send an ExecProtect notification when a display name spoofing attack is found and quarantined. Administrators can easily keep track of the volume of threats coming in and prove value in display name spoofing prevention.


No employee training needed

ExecProtect doesn't require employee training because attacks are stopped before they reach employees' inboxes.


Protect variations of names 

It's possible to protect name variations. For example, if Robert Smith is a protected name, customers can set up ExecProtect to include variations of the name, like Bob Smith or Bobby Smith.

See also: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide


In the news

Google now automatically blocks emails from bulk senders who fail to meet stricter spam thresholds and authentication requirements, enhancing its spam defenses. This will strengthen email security for users of Gmail and other Google services. Furthermore, Google's spoofing defense contributes to building trust and confidence among users, making sure that they can rely on the authenticity of emails received through Google's platforms. This defense mechanism safeguards users' sensitive information, privacy, and overall online security.



What's the difference between a hacked and spoofed account?

A hacked account means the attacker has gained full access to the email account and can send emails directly. On the other hand, a spoofed account implies that the attacker is only impersonating the account's display name, making it appear as though the email is coming from that account. The spoofed account remains untouched, while the hacked account is compromised.


What should I do if my email has been spoofed?

If your email has been spoofed, there is not much you can do to prevent the spoofed emails from being sent. However, you can notify your contacts about the spoofing and advise them not to open any suspicious emails or click on any links. Keep a strong email password to prevent unauthorized access to your account.


What is the purpose of display name spoofing?

Display name spoofing tries to deceive recipients into thinking that an email is coming from a trusted source. This can be used to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, clicking on malicious links, or transferring funds. Display name spoofing is often used in phishing attacks and identity theft attempts.

Read alsoTop HIPAA compliant email services 


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