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What Is A Spoofing Attack & How To Prevent It

Blog PostsCybersecurity

What Is A Spoofing Attack & How To Prevent It

Read Time: 7 minutes Published: May 18, 2021

Spoofing might sound like just another buzzword thrown around whenever people discuss cybersecurity. However, like many other cybersecurity threats, spoofing attacks can have a massive impact on a business and should be taken seriously by your organization.

Research by CAIDA shows that around 30,000 spoofing attacks happen daily. These attacks are not easy to stop because they exploit multiple points of contact on business networks. Keep in mind, nearly half of all advanced spoofing attack attempts are now able to bypass leading secure email gateways (SEGs), as hackers elevate their manipulation tactics. The need for businesses both large and small to protect their networks from spoofing attacks is imperative.

What Is A Spoofing Attack?

A spoofing attack is when a cyber criminal pretends to be a trusted source within your network in order to access your systems, emails, phone calls, and website. It tricks your systems to do something beneficial to the attacker but detrimental to you. Spoofing attacks are among the security nightmares cybersecurity experts deal with today.

This type of attack, as mentioned earlier, affects multiple points of a business network. Complex and technical attacks can come through a DNS server, an IP address, or an Address Resolution Protocol (ARP).

Cybercriminals use spoofing attacks mainly to access sensitive information. They can also use them to spread malware, redistribute traffic, or bypass access controls on your network. All these can impact a business by damaging its public reputation and affecting customer trust.

6 Types of Spoofing Attacks

Hackers know that individuals and businesses put in various measures to prevent attacks. Thus, they have diversified their hacking channels and methods to succeed. Here are some of the most common types of spoofing attacks you should protect yourself against in today’s online environment.

1. Email Spoofing Attacks

Spoofing emails are no different from the phishing scams that are common today. In email spoofing, a hacker uses a false sender address to dupe you that the email is from a trusted source. Such emails come with malicious links and attachments that, once clicked on, expose your network to various threats.

2. GPS Spoofing Attacks

GPS spoofing attacks happen when a cybercriminal manipulates a radio transmitter to send counterfeit GPS signals. For instance, if you’re driving and using GPS, an attacker could lead you to a different location with this attack. The possible implications of a successful GPS spoofing attack can be severe and could lead to losses.

3. Caller ID Spoofing Attacks

Attackers can also spoof caller IDs and make them appear familiar. Even if they’re in a different continent, a cybercriminal can change their phone number to seem like they’re in your location. Unaware of the threat you’re facing, you pick up the call and end up exposing your personal information.

4. Website Spoofing Attacks

Website or URL spoofing has also become a common technique used by hackers today. They create a website that resembles a trusted site with lots of traffic, such as Facebook. Unsuspecting users enter log-in credentials, and before they know it, the hacker alters the details and locks them out of their accounts.

5. Text Message Spoofing Attacks

Text message spoofing attacks work like email spoofing to a great extent. The difference is that a hacker uses a different phone number or sender ID in place of an email address. They then pose as a legitimate company or organization and trick you into sharing personal information.

6. IP Spoofing Attacks

IP spoofing attacks involve altering an attacker’s location to get uncensored access into a network. This type of spoofing attack mostly gets used by cybercriminals looking to throw a DDOS attack on your network. It aims at affecting your security system’s ability to filter out malicious traffic coming to your website.

How to Prevent Spoofing Attacks

Here are some ways you can use to prevent spoofing attacks at your organization.

  • Leverage your spam filter. Spam filters should stop the majority of spoofed emails from entering your inbox in the first place.

  • Use spoofing detection software. Software such as ARP and IP spoofing is effective for spoofing prevention. They can help you identify an impending snooping attack and stop it, including the methods it could use in the future.

  • Leverage packet filtering. Packet filtering can help to prevent IP spoofing and its impacts on a network. Analyzing traffic packets as they come helps to identify and block traffic with incorrect source address information.

  • Use encrypted protocols: Data-in-transit faces many risks as hackers’ bots lurk in between networks and servers looking to exploit any unprotected data. Protocols such as HTTP Secure (HTTPS) can help you encrypt your data.

  • Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails if the email comes from an unfamiliar source. If you suspect the email is legitimate, use another method of communication to confirm its veracity.

  • Verify suspicious requests in person. Again, if you’ve received a suspicious email, supposedly from someone you know, don’t hesitate to reach out to the sender directly to confirm that they sent the request.

  • Avoid relying on trust relationships for authentication. Attackers can leverage those relationships to stage successful spoofing attacks.

How to Detect Spoofing Attacks

Knowing some signs that suggest that you’re involved in a spoofing attack can help you protect yourself. There are several red flags that you can look out for on your network. For website spoofing attacks, for example, you should click away if you don’t see a green padlock icon on the address bar. It shows the site isn’t safe.

Email spoofing attack signs include things like simple spelling mistakes and poor grammar. A trusted source should also address you by name, so something like ‘dear customer’ should worry you. You should also check attachments and the legitimacy of URLs shared in an email before clicking on anything.

What Are the Consequences of Spoofing Attacks?

As mentioned earlier, spoofing attacks can have a lot of consequences on a business. The most common is the loss of sensitive company and customer information to cybercriminals. According to the FBI, email spoofing and phishing have had a massive worldwide financial impact costing an estimated $26 billion since 2016.

Hackers can use these data to demand ransom, cause downtime, or even affect employee productivity. This makes it vital for businesses to take preventive measures against any spoofing attempts.

5 Real-Life Examples of Spoofing Attacks

Here are some high-profile examples of spoofing attacks:

  • The Ottawa City treasurer was tricked into transferring more than $100,000 of taxpayer funds by email fraudsters impersonating city manager Steve Kanellakos.

  • Mattel was tricked into sending $3 million to an account in China pretending to be a new vendor.

  • The Crelan bank in Belgium was tricked into sending attackers a whopping €70 million.

  • Facebook and Google, were jointly defrauded more than $100 million between 2013 and 2015 through an elaborate fake invoice scam targeting the tech giants.

  • Ubiquiti Networks, was unaware that it had $46.7 million stolen through CEO fraud emails.

Spoofing attacks are increasing every day and affecting businesses with an online presence. Preventing them can help stop potential damage to your business reputation and financial loss.

We understand how grievous a spoofing attack can be to your organization and are always focused on providing you with the best-practice recommendations for security management that will keep your organization’s data well-protected. Figuring out all your bases to cover is not an easy process to navigate, especially in times like these— and that’s why Electric is here to support your organization.

Justin Sheil

Justin Sheil has 5+ years experience writing about a wide range of technology topics.

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