What Is a Spoofing Attack and What Can You Do About It?

One of the most difficult types of cyberattacks to detect is a spoofing attack, which is an attack where the attacker pretends to be someone other than who they are. The goal is to gain the targeted victim’s trust and confidence so they can gain access to a system or network to steal data or money or deploy malware. Spoofing can be executed via a range of communication channels, making it easy to connect with a victim and manipulate them.

How Spoofing Works

There are a variety of spoofing techniques that depend on the method of delivery. We’ll get into those in more detail when we discuss the types of spoofing, but keep in mind that it is common for attackers to use more than one method of attack to be sure they succeed in tricking the victim into revealing the information they’re looking for. An example is using a spoof email and directing the victim to a spoofed website.

Types of Spoofing

Not only are there several types of spoofing, but there are also different levels of complexity in terms of the technology and approach used. Here are the most common types of spoofing.

Email Spoofing

This is one of the most common types of spoofing attacks, in which the attacker changes the “From” field in the email to make it look like it is coming from a trusted or known contact. This fraudulent email address will have subtle differences from the legitimate email address, such as a “0” in place of an “O.” Then, in the body of the email, the victim is directed to a malicious website or to click on a malicious attachment, or social engineering is used to convince them to send money or sensitive information.

Website/Domain Spoofing

In this type of attack, the attacker creates a fraudulent website that mimics a legitimate website. They do this in much the same way they mimic a trusted contact in email spoofing, except in this case, they alter the website address to mimic the legitimate web address. When the victim tries to log onto the fraudulent website, the attacker steals their credentials to access the real website or to sell them.

Caller ID Spoofing

This is like email spoofing, except the attacker’s phone number is disguised to look like the phone number of a trusted contact. They can then pose as a customer support agent and get the victim to provide personal information.

IP Spoofing

IP spoofing is an attack aimed at a network rather than an individual. The attacker creates an IP address that looks legitimate by changing the packet headers that come from their system. They then send messages that look as though they have come from a trusted source. These communications make it possible for them to gain unauthorized access to a network, and this type of attack is often part of a DoS attack.

GPS Spoofing

GPS spoofing involves altering the GPS readings of a device so the victim appears to be in a different location than where they are. It is a method of attack that is often used by gamers but can also be used to redirect the navigation system of vehicles, such as delivery trucks, emergency vehicles, and airplanes.

Facial Spoofing

This is a new type of spoofing in which the attacker uses online photos to construct a 3-D image of the victim. This image allows the attacker to use facial recognition to unlock the victim’s device. They can also use this type of attack to simulate a wealthy victim who is embarrassing or implicating them in a criminal act to extort them for money.

Address Resolution Protocol (APR) Spoofing

During an ARP attack, the attacker matches their IP address to a Media Access Control (MAC) address so they can transmit and receive data. They can then gain access to data that is meant for the legitimate owner of the IP address.

How to Protect Against Spoofing

It can be difficult to recognize a spoofing attack. However, there are steps you can take when you receive any communication that can help you spot one:

  • Check to be sure the communication, such as a request to reset a password, was initiated by you or someone you know and trust.
  • Avoid clicking on unsolicited attachments in emails that appear to be from a trusted source. Legitimate organizations will never send files directly to you but will direct you to a website to download them.
  • If the communication requests personal or sensitive information, confirm a trusted source sent it. These types of requests would never be sent by government agencies or reputable businesses.
  • Check all hyperlinks by hovering over them to determine where the link leads before clicking on it. Don’t click on it if it doesn’t match the legitimate sender’s domain.
  • Check to ensure links will take you to a site that uses HTTPS instead of HTTP. Secure sites only use HTTPS.
  • Legitimate communications from companies will be professional and personalized, so be wary of communications that start with something like “Dear customer.”
  • Look for grammar and spelling mistakes or poor branding or design in the communication, which attackers often use to ensnare easy targets and weed out more perceptive users.

Cybercriminals are sophisticated and have access to all the most recent technology. Keep yourself safe by always being on the lookout for spoofing attacks.

Connect with Platinum Technologies to learn more about spoofing attacks and how we can help you keep your business safe.

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