Spoofing is a form of a cyberattack where an unknown person disguises communications as a trusted and known source in an attempt to gather private information.
What Is Spoofing?
When it comes to cybersecurity, spoofing is where something or someone pretends to be something else in order to:
- Get access to systems
- Gain people's confidence
- Steal money
- Steal data
- Spread malware
A spoofing attack comes in various forms, mainly:
- URL and/or website spoofing
- Email spoofing
- IP spoofing
- Text message spoofing
- Caller ID spoofing
- Facial spoofing
- Extension spoofing
Cybercriminals will invoke the name of large, trusted companies to get people to take some type of action or give up information. For instance, a spoofed email from Amazon, Apple, or PayPal may inquire about a purchase you never made. Then, after raising concerns about your account, you may click on the link they include in the email.
After you click on the malicious link, you are sent to a fake login page with a spoofed URL and a familiar logo, where you are prompted to provide your username and password. They may also use a malware download in an attempt to harvest your information.
Different Types of Spoofing Attacks
There are numerous types of spoofing attacks, including:
- ARP Spoofing. Address Resolution Protocol, or ARP, spoofing is a common type of man-in-the-middle attack. It allows the attacker to intercept communications between network devices. Cybercriminals execute it by overloading a local area network with false ARP packets to allow them to tamper with the regular traffic routing process. Traffic is then redirected and read at the attacker's computer before reaching its intended location. The attacker might also distort the data prior to forwarding it the actual recipient or they may stop all network communication.
- Spoofing. To perform an Internet Protocol, or IP spoofing attack, the cybercriminal sends falsified source address IP packets in order to obscure the packet sender's actual online identity and thereby impersonates a different computer. IP spoofing is frequently used for setting denial of service (DDoS) attacks in motion.
- Website Spoofing. Con artists might try to dupe a target company's staff into clicking into a "carbon copy" of a website they regularly visit and use for their work. Sadly, black hats (i.e. hackers looking to compromise systems, steal data, or take down networks) are rapidly becoming proficient at mimicking the legitimate website:
- Sign-in forms
- GPS Spoofing. With people relying increasingly on geolocation services for avoiding traffic jams or reaching their destination, cybercriminals might attempt to manipulate the GPS receiver of a target device into signaling incorrect whereabouts.
Best Practices to Protect Yourself Against Spoofing Attacks
Some ways of protecting yourself against a spoofing attack are:
- Be Observant. One way to prevent spoofing is to be observant. When you are alert, you can more easily spot any substantial spoofing attempts. Keep an eye out for various types of email containing unusual sentence structures, inconsistent grammar, or spelling mistakes. Typically, professional business entities don't make trivial correspondence mistakes.
- Don't Download Unsolicited Attachments or Click on Unfamiliar Links. If the email looks suspicious don’t click on any links or attached items. Attachments may include a virus that could be downloaded onto your computer. Once a virus is in your computer it can be very hard to remove and may spread rapidly to other people in your network or in your contacts list. A false link could send you to a spoofed website that might steal username and password information. Always hover your mouse over the link and check the destination address, or type the address into your browser. If you doubt the sender, you could send a separate email to the sender's actual email address, looking for confirmation.
- Check Out the Address of the Sender. One form of spoofing involves the sender's address being tampered with by making slight changes to the letters' positions in the address. By looking carefully, you can see if you're dealing with a false address.
- Look Out for Phone Spoofing. Spoofing can occur on the phone as well. You could screen your calls, not answering phone numbers that aren’t in your contact list, install software on your phone that traces out the right caller ID, or you could check search engines to see if the number is linked with spam. You could also hang the phone up and call back the correct number./li>
Cyberattackers that use spoofing can be very dangerous because it’s often an attempt to steal data. Spoofing tricks the person into believing they are doing something right, but it is actually the opposite. The person will part with the data unwittingly, thereby causing harm to themselves and their safety. Always be observant of the sender’s email address, the email’s formatting and grammar, as well as any links or attachments that may be harmful. Your awareness is your best defense against a spoofing attack.