Spoofing attacks are one of the top cybersecurity threats people face today. It is the act of masking’s identity to mimic that of a familiar source. In other words, it means pretending to be who you are not online to deceive people. Spoofing comes in different forms; through emails, caller ID, website domains, and more.
Perpetrators of these attacks prey on the trusted relationship between the person or entity being impersonated and the victim. To make the cyber-attack seem authentic, the fraudulent actor will send personalized messages to an unsuspecting person to make them drop their guard. If the victim does not know what is going on, they will most likely fall for the trap and give the attacker the information they want.
Successful spoofing attacks can have dire consequences. Cybercriminals might obtain important business or personal information to steal money or extract critical company data. Moreso, they can spread malware throughout a server via unsecure website links or untrusted documents attached to an email. This can result in a DDoS or ransomware attack and cost the company lots of money to resolve.
Types of Spoofing Attacks
To prevent a spoofing attack, you should know what they look like. Spoofing occurs in different ways, and here are some of the common ones:
1. IP Address Spoofing
This type is mainly used in DoS attacks. The perpetrator sends IP packets from a spoofed IP address to recipients on different networks. Consequently, the owner of the legit IP address will receive many responses, which will overwhelm it and disrupt the network service. Also, a hacker might spoof a device’s IP address to infiltrate a network that grants access based on IP addresses.
2. Email Address Spoofing
Cybercriminals send emails with false sender addresses to their victims. Then, they reinforce their deception with social engineering tactics to catch their victim off guard. The recipient will think the message is from a contact they know and might click on an attached link.
The malicious link usually contains a virus that will infect the victim’s device and give the hacker access to it. They can steal their personal, banking, or corporate data.
3. Caller ID Spoofing
Scammers mainly use this trick to deceive people over the phone. Firstly, they mask their actual number with one closely resembling one of the many phone numbers their victim is familiar with. Then, they call their victim. If the victim picks up their call, the scammer will pretend to be a reputable company representative and persuade the victim to reveal some personal information.
4. Website Spoofing
Hackers make a fake website look like one which their victim visits regularly. Then, they send the spoofed link as a phishing message to their victim. If the victim clicks the link, it will take them to a fake website built to look like the legit one they recognize and ask them to enter their personal information or login credentials. If they do so, it will be stolen by the hacker.
Prevent Spoofing Attacks
There isn’t a single method for detecting spoofing attacks. They come in different forms, and cybercriminals’ social engineering tactics differ. However, there are some helpful tips you can use for guidance.
- Protect your data online, and do not share your personal information with anyone. If you must do so, verify the authenticity of the person first.
- If you receive an email with a link, cross-check the sender’s email address and scrutinize the link to see if it’s from a trusted source. If in doubt, do not click the click.
- If a familiar source sends you a website link, check if it is the same link you know. If it has a different domain suffix, avoid it.
- Trust your instincts. If something seems fishy, it probably is.
- Avoid posting your contact details online for giveaways or other purposes. The scheme might be run by a scammer looking to steal people’s data.
- Do not enter your credit information on sketchy websites. Only use verified and reputable payment processors to make payments.
- Use web browsers known for their reliable security features, so they can notify you if you are about to visit a malicious website.
- Do not open any document attached to an email until you verify the email is legit.
- Reputable companies hardly call people to demand their personal or financial information. Do not share your valuable information with a strange person that calls you unless you have been notified of that call beforehand. Always verify the identity of the caller to avoid mishaps.
Cyber threats are rampant, and spoofing is a common tactic that bad actors use to deceive people and steal their information. Falling for spoofing attacks can be disastrous, so you should take all the necessary steps to protect yourself and your information online. Be vigilant and aware of how spoofing can occur so you know how to recognize an attack when it presents itself.