What Does Spoofing Mean? Detection & Prevention

What does spoofing mean?

Let’s imagine a scenario. You wake up and start your morning by checking your emails, only to find an urgent email from your bank prompting you to contact them and verify some information, so you click on the link in the attachment to get it sorted right away. The next thing you know, your device is infected with malware, and you’re a victim of a spoofing attack. How did it all happen so quickly?

If you don’t want to find yourself in such a situation, you should learn the basics of how spoofing works and how to protect against it. In this post, we’ll cover the most common spoofing types, how to spot spoofing before it’s too late, and the best spoofing prevention tips you need to know.

What Does Spoofing Mean?

Before we discuss the different types of spoofing and how to prevent them, let’s address the basic question, what does spoofing mean? Spoofing is actually a catch-all term that covers many different types of malicious behaviors in which the attackers try to trick unsuspecting victims in order to obtain something beneficial. It can happen across nearly all communication channels, and range from straightforward spoofing traps to very technically advanced attacks.

How Does Spoofing Work?

Understanding what spoofing is, let’s move to the second key question, and that is: how does spoofing work? Simply put, all spoofing attacks have two elements, the spoof itself and the social engineering element (urge-to-action).

For example, spoofers need a spoofed website to which they’ll send you a link, trying to pull the right emotional strings in you to make you take action and click on it. There are many different types of spoofing attacks, but most of them have the same end goal. This is to steal your data, money or gain unauthorized access.

Different Types of Spoofing

Email Spoofing

Email spoofing is the most common type of spoofing attack. It includes the cyberattacker forging their email address, sender name, or both. As most users take headers at face value, email spoofing attacks are also among the most successful types of spoofing. Spoofing emails are similar to phishing ones in the sense that they require immediate action from you. They try to create an urgent situation where you don’t have time to hesitate or question anything, as you need to act immediately.

Caller ID Spoofing

If you’ve gotten to a point to ask yourself: “Is someone spoofing my number”, the answer is most likely yes. This is because caller ID spoofing is one of the most common forms of spoofing attacks. The cybercriminal pretends they’re trustworthy or a person of authority (i.e., police officer) who requires personal information from you under a certain threat or prospect.

Website Spoofing

Cybercriminals may use a spoofed website to obtain your login credentials, steal your credit card data, install malicious software, or other reasons. These sites can look very credible, so much so that it’s almost impossible to tell apart from the real thing without going into the details. They could look the same, use the same logo, contact details, design, down to the tiniest point.

Text Message Spoofing

Text message spoofing is a pretty straightforward spoofing attack. It simply includes using a spoofed number to send texts that lead to malicious sites. Still, although simple in nature, it does require extensive research on the attacker’s part, as they need to find the right type of message the potential victim would most likely respond to.

GPS Spoofing

GPS spoofing includes tricking the GPS receiver into broadcasting signals to an incorrect location. This can be a particularly dangerous form of spoofing, as the attacker can gain control of vehicles, drones, or any other device using a GPS navigation system. There have been cases when attackers carried out GPS spoofing on a much bigger scale, even hijacking planes and ships.

IP Address Spoofing

Spoofing an IP address includes hiding the attacker’s real identity and location to gain access to a specific network. Most often, spoofing of IP address aims to overwhelm the network’s servers with traffic and shut down the network. These are commonly known as DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks.

ARP Spoofing

Address Resolution Spoofing, or simply ARP spoofing, is an advanced spoofing attack that involves the attacker spoofing a MAC address (Media Access Control address) to your IP address. The spoofing of the MAC address allows the attacker to intercept the data meant for your IP address and commit man-in-the-middle attacks.

DNS Spoofing

DNS spoofing is a spoofing attack in which the attacker uses altered DNS records to redirect online traffic from a legitimate site to a fake one that resembles it. Once on the sites, the unsuspecting victims are prompted to install malicious software without realizing they’re doing so.

Extension Spoofing

Extension spoofing is when the attacker disguises the file type to trick the victim into downloading and installing the malicious attachment. This may be a malware executable that will take over the device or siphon valuable personal and financial information from it without the user even knowing what’s happening.

Facial Spoofing

Facial spoofing is one of the news forms of spoofing and is still a fairly rare occurrence compared to many of the types above. It includes relying on facial recognition software to gain access to valuable information or physical location. The typical way facial spoofing works is that the attacker can use publicly available pictures to build your likeness and then use it to access a system that uses facial recognition software.

How to Spot Different Spoofing Attempts?

To help you spot spoofing attempts and act on them before it’s too late, we’ll go over a few of the most frequent and common examples. In the case of website spoofing attempts, if the padlock is missing from the site’s address bar and the URL reads HTTP and not HTTPS, the website is unsecure and perhaps even spoofed. Moreover, other signs of a spoofed website are broken links or abundant spelling errors.

When it comes to spoofing an email address, it’s very easy to notice the warning signs if you pay attention to the little details. For example, one of the telltale signs is if the email comes from an incorrect domain name or slight differences in the sender’s email address. Also, if the email is riddled with spelling errors, poor grammar, or unfamiliar and strange words, it’s most likely a malicious one. Lastly, if the email is very urgent and requires you to act immediately, it’s probably a spoofing attempt.

There are also a few clues that can help you tell whether or not someone is spoofing your number. More specifically, if the phone number calling you is without any dashes or brackets, you should avoid answering. Of course, if the phone number or caller name is hidden, it’s also a dead giveaway to ignore the call.

Additionally, it’s important to highlight that spotting more advanced forms of spoofing like DNS or IP address spoofing is more challenging. This is why it’s always best to prevent a spoofing attempt than to try to deal with the potential consequences later. This leads us to the last and most important part of this spoofing article.

How to Prevent Spoofing?

Spoofing can undoubtedly mean damaging and often costly data breaches. But, the situation doesn’t need to be as dire if you take the time to implement some prevention measurements to protect against it. Here are some of the most efficient ways of how to prevent spoofing attacks:

  • Install malware protection and anti-spam programs and ensure all software is up to date.
  • Apply technical controls and mechanisms to protect against spoofing attacks that come through email, DNS, or your IP address.
  • Learn more about social engineering methods to avoid being tricked by common tricks
  • If you run a business, educate your employees on the risks of spoofing attacks and ideally use simulation software to train them and prepare them for real-life situations.
  • Be proactive and create a protection system that keeps up with the latest trends and cybersecurity practices.
  • Use a security key to check the credibility of the sites and apps you want to access

The last method is arguably one of the best ways of securing your valuable information and credentials from spoofing attempts. In this context, the Hideez Key is the ultimate tool you can use for strong protection against spoofing, phishing, and man-in-the-middle attacks.

The greatest benefit of the Hideez Key is that it assesses the trustworthiness of the app, website, or service you access. And, unless the source is safe, the key won’t enter your login and password credentials, automatically protecting you from any spoofing attempt.

Not only this, but the Hideez Key also enables you to conveniently manage and automatically change your passwords. It generates one-time passwords and can work as a FIDO2/U2F security key. If you want to secure your personal or business credentials from getting spoofed, take advantage of the demo trial and try out the Hideez Enterprise Solution for free.