Spoofing attacks are on the rise. What is a spoofing attack, you ask? Essentially, it attempts to gain unauthorised access to systems, devices or networks by masquerading as a valid user. In other words, spoofing attackers try to mimic or copy the behaviour of authorised users to steal information or gain access.
Spoofing attacks are on the rise and can be challenging to identify and prevent. This blog post will discuss spoofing attacks, how to identify them, and tips for preventing them. Stay safe online!
What is spoofing in cyber security?
Definition wise, spoofing is an attack that involves deceiving or tricking a computer system or network into accepting an illegitimate connection, message, or data. It can be done through various means, such as spoofing IP addresses, spoofing MAC addresses, spoofing phone numbers, and even spoofing identities.
Spoofing in computer systems is a severe threat to users and should be taken seriously. These attacks involve using false information or identities to trick users into providing sensitive details or compromising their systems. Unlike other forms of cybercrime, spoofing attacks can occur through digital and physical channels, making them even more dangerous and potentially harder to detect. The very basis of the majority of the attacks includes social engineering as the primary attack vector.
Cybercriminals may employ several different spoofing attacks to gain access to sensitive data or perform other malicious actions, such as spoofing DNS servers or spoofing wireless access points.
History of spoofing
The history of spoofing dates back to the early 1900s, when spoofing was used to spoof radio transmissions and imitate voices. One of the earliest spoofing attacks was the SYN Flood attack, which exploited a flaw in how TCP/IP handles connection requests. This attack can still be used today to paralyse a server by flooding it with spoofed connection requests.
Dangers of spoofing
Spoofing attacks can have serious consequences, ranging from identity theft and email fraud to denial of service attacks and data breaches. In some cases, spoofed messages and calls may contain malware or other malicious content that can infect a user’s device or system.
To stay safe online, users must be aware of spoofing attacks. These malicious attacks take many different forms, but all aim to deceive their victims and compromise sensitive information or system vulnerabilities. In some cases, spoofed messages or calls may contain viruses or other harmful content that can infect a user’s device or system, resulting in data breaches or denial of service attacks. It is essential for users to be cautious when interacting with unknown sources and learn how to spot spoofed communications. This requires correctly identifying techniques like phishing, on-screen spoofing, and URL spoofing. With vigilance and awareness of these techniques, users can help protect themselves and their data from the serious consequences of spoofing attacks.
Types of spoofing and examples of spoofing attacks
There are multiple spoofing attacks, each with its own specific goals and methods. The most common types of spoofing attacks are:
Email spoofing is the creation of email messages with a forged sender address. The purpose of email spoofing is to trick the recipient into believing that the message is from a trustworthy source when in fact, it is not. Cybercriminals use email spoofing attacks for malicious purposes, such as phishing and fraud. In a phishing attack, the attacker will spoof the sender’s address to trick the recipient into clicking on a malicious link or providing personal information. In fraud cases, the attacker may impersonate a business or individual to trick the recipient into transferring money or sensitive information. Email spoofing is relatively easy to carry out, and it can be challenging for recipients to detect. As a result, these attacks can be highly effective. Businesses and individuals should take steps to protect themselves from email spoofing attacks by using strong anti-spam filters and being cautious of unsolicited messages.
Spoofing attack vs phishing
Just to answer a popular question here – the difference between two concepts, i.e. phishing vs spoofing.
Spoofing is a method used in phishing attacks. Spoofing is a technique used to gain confidential information such as your username and password or credit card numbers by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
A phisher could, for example, send an email that appears to be from a legitimate bank, asking the recipient to click on a link and enter their login credentials. The link in the email leads to a spoofed website that looks identical to the bank’s actual website. Read more on different types of cyberattacks here:
Text message spoofing
Text message spoofing is an attack where the attacker sends a text message from a fake number to trick the victim into thinking it’s from a legitimate source. The text message usually contains a link that leads to a malicious website or downloads malware onto the victim’s device.
In some cases, text message spoofing can bypass two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is an extra layer of security that requires the user to input a code sent to their phone after entering their username and password. By spoofing the victim’s phone number, the attacker can intercept the text message containing the code and gain access to the victim’s account. Text message spoofing attacks are becoming more common as attackers seek new ways to bypass security measures.
GPS spoofing involves transmitting false GPS signals to GPS receivers to trick them into thinking they are located somewhere else. GPS spoofing attacks can have various effects, ranging from misrouting vehicles to disrupting financial systems that rely on GPS timing. In some cases, GPS spoofing can even be used to hijack drones. One notable example of a GPS spoofing attack occurred in 2011 when Iranian hackers used GPS spoofing to redirect a U.S. drone. The drone crash landed, and the Iranians were able to recover its classified information. GPS spoofing is a serious threat, and we will likely see more attacks.
Spoofing Websites and/or URL spoofing
Website spoofing, also known as URL spoofing, is a type of phishing attack that occurs when a malicious actor creates a replica of a legitimate website. Website spoofing aims to trick users into entering their personal or financial information on the fake site, which the attacker can then use to gain access to accounts or commit fraud. Website spoofing attacks are often difficult to spot, as fake websites can be compelling.
Attackers use typosquatting to register similar domains to legitimate websites but with slight misspellings. Typosquatting is a common tactic used in website spoofing attacks, as users often mistype URLs when trying to access a site.
Under the detection section in this topic, we have covered the top 10 telltale signs to discover a bogus site(scroll below to the How to detect section). If you’re unsure about a site’s legitimacy, it’s best to err on caution and avoid entering any sensitive data.
DNS spoofing attack
DNS spoofing, also known as DNS cache poisoning, is a type of cyber attack in which an attacker alters the DNS records of a DNS server to redirect traffic intended for one site to another. This can be done by DNS hijacking, cache poisoning, or DNS redirection.
DNS spoofing is often used to carry out phishing attacks or distribute malware. For example, an attacker could redirect users from a legitimate website to a malicious clone of that site to steal login credentials or infect their computers with malware. DNS spoofing can also carry out denial-of-service (DoS) attacks by redirecting traffic away from the intended destination and causing the servers to become overloaded. DNS spoofing is a severe security threat that can devastate businesses and individuals.
ARP spoofing is just one type of attack that malicious actors can use to exploit vulnerabilities in a network. Users and administrators need to be aware of this threat and take steps to protect against it.
ARP spoofing is a type of attack in which an attacker sends false ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) messages over a network to associate their own MAC address with the IP address of another user. This can allow the attacker to intercept data traffic intended for the other user and enable the attacker to carry out man-in-the-middle attacks. Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) spoofing attacks are relatively simple to carry out and can be difficult to detect. As a result, malicious actors use this attack vector to access sensitive information. There are several steps that users can take to protect themselves from ARP spoofing attacks, such as using ARP poisoning detection software and keeping their anti-virus software up-to-date.
A man-in-the-middle attack is a cyberattack where the attacker inserts themselves into communication between two parties. The attacker then intercepts and relays messages between the two victims, impersonating each victim. Man-in-the-middle attacks can steal sensitive data, such as login credentials or financial information. In some cases, the attacker may also modify the communication, introducing false information to deceive one of the victims. Man-in-the-middle attacks are a serious security threat, and businesses should take steps to prevent them. Typical prevention methods include encryption, two-factor authentication, and physical security measures.
Extension spoofing is a technique used to carry out spoofing attacks. In extension spoofing, an attacker modifies the extension of a file, such as changing a .exe file to a .jpg file. This allows the attacker to bypass security controls that are in place to prevent files with specific extensions from being executed. Extension spoofing can also trick users into opening a malicious file. For example, an attacker could send an email with a .exe file attached that has been renamed to have a .jpg extension. When the user tries to open the file, they see an error message saying that the file could not be opened. However, if the user clicks OK, the file would be executed, and the malicious code would be run. Extension spoofing is a severe security threat and can be used to bypass security controls and trick users into running malicious code.
IP spoofing refers to creating IP packets with a false source IP address to conceal the sender’s identity or impersonate another computer system. IP spoofing is often used as part of a denial of service (DOS) attack, DDoS attack, Man-in-the-Middle attacks, and other cyberattacks. While IP spoofing can be used for legitimate purposes, such as website testing, attackers often use it to carry out malicious activities. One of the challenges of IP spoofing is that it can be difficult to trace the attack source. The attacker’s IP address is not contained in the sent packets. As a result, IP spoofing can be a powerful tool for carrying out cyberattacks.
Facial spoofing is a technique used to carry out spoofing attacks. In a facial spoofing attack, an attacker uses a photograph or video of a victim’s face to impersonate them and gain access to their accounts or personal information. This attack is becoming increasingly common as facial recognition technology becomes more widespread. While facial spoofing can be used for various nefarious purposes, it is hazardous because it is difficult to detect and prevent. For example, an attacker could use facial spoofing to access a victim’s bank account or social media account and use it to carry out identity theft or fraud. Facial spoofing is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. As facial recognition technology becomes more prevalent, developing ways to detect and prevent facial spoofing attacks is important.
Caller ID spoofing
caller ID spoofing makes the caller ID display on a telephone caller appear to be something other than the actual calling number. The caller ID may be set to any arbitrary number, including that of another person, a business, or even a fictitious number. Spoofing attacks can be used for various purposes, including fraud, identity theft, and harassment. Caller ID spoofing is relatively easy to carry out and is often done using VoIP technology. As a result, it can be challenging to detect and defend against. Individuals and businesses that are potential targets of spoofing attacks should be aware of the risks and take steps to protect themselves.
How does spoofing works?
Cybercriminals use spoofing techniques to trick users into believing that they are interacting with a legitimate website, email address, or phone number when they are not. This can be done by spoofing the domain name of a website or the email address of a trusted sender. Spoofing can also be used to spoof phone numbers to gain access to someone’s voicemail or make it appear as though a call is coming from a trusted source.
Fraudsters often carry out spoofing attacks to steal sensitive data from unsuspecting users. The spoofing technique itself is at the heart of these spoofing attacks, which involves mimicking existing communications or pretending to be a trusted entity to trick people into divulging sensitive information. This information typically includes login credentials, credit card numbers, account details, and other personal details that can be used to steal money or commit identity theft.
There are several different methods that fraudsters use to carry out spoofing attacks. One common approach is known as phishing. The attacker tries to obtain sensitive data by pretending to be a legitimate business or organisation via email, web form submissions, text messages, phone calls, or other forms of communication. Another method is known as vishing, in which victims are tricked into divulging their private information over the phone. In addition, some attackers lure victims onto spoofed social media sites or online forums where they can collect personal information from users who assume that they are interacting with trusted contacts.
Regardless of the spoofing attack method, the overall goal is always the same: stealing sensitive data for financial gain or malicious purposes. It is essential to exercise caution when sharing your personal information to protect against such attacks. Always verify to make sure that you are interacting with legitimate sources.
How to detect spoofing attacks?
Check if it’s an unsolicited or solicited approach?
Are you responding to unsolicited requests, or are there any links to the service request received? If you are unsure, spoofed messages or requests will often ask you to click on a link to verify your identity or login credentials. Any similar prompts are a clear sign for you to verify the information first and don’t act on such messages if unsure.
Be extra vigilant if you see a sudden increase in spoofed emails or requests.
The top 10 telltale signs to look for spoofing attacks:
1. Unexpected or sudden changes in website content
2. New and unusual domains appearing that are very similar to your own
3. Spammy or malicious emails purporting to come from your organisation
4. Unexpected increases in website traffic
5. Sudden drop in website traffic
6. Website crashes or slowdowns, o similar urgencies in the messages asking you to reveal sensitive information or agree to tasks
7. Changes in search engine rankings
8. User complaints about spoofed websites
9. Mysterious charges on your organisation’s credit card
10. Your organisation’s logo or branding is being used on a spoofed website using contemporary issues such as COVID 19, Brexit, Ukraine war, etc.
Recent research reports show how attackers utilised phishing campaigns against Covid 19 remote workforce to get the most out of frauds by carrying out large-scale attacks.
How to prevent spoofing attacks?
Protect against text message spoofing attacks
To protect yourself from text message spoofing attacks, be suspicious of any text messages containing links, even if they appear from a trusted source. If you’re not expecting a text message with a link, it’s best to delete it without clicking on it. You should also ensure that your devices are running up-to-date security software to help protect against malware.
Protection against website and URL spoofing attacks
When spoofing websites and URLs, attackers often use similar-looking domain names or typosquatting to trick people into visiting their imitated site. To protect yourself from this type of attack, always look at the URL before you click on it. In addition, make sure that your web browser is up to date and that the website follows certain minimum website security practices.
Protecting against DNS spoofing attacks
Protecting against DNS spoofing attacks requires a combination of technical and non-technical measures. Technical measures include using servers DNS over HTTPS, DNS security extensions (DNSSEC) against DNS hijacking and other attacks and keeping DNS servers up-to-date with the latest security patches. Non-technical measures include educating users about phishing attacks and how to spot fake websites.
Protection against Man-in-the-middle attacks
Man-in-the-middle attacks can be prevented by using encryption and other security measures such as MAC white-listing and NAC (network access controls) to protect communication between two parties. For example, SSL/TLS encryption can be used to protect web browsing sessions, and VPNs can be used to protect communications over untrusted networks.
Protection against Caller ID and Extension spoofing
You can do a few things to protect against caller ID and extension spoofing. One must make sure that your phone system is up to date and has the latest security patches. Another is to educate your employees about spoofing attacks and how to spot them. Finally, you can implement security measures such as call blocking and caller ID authentication to help protect your organisation from spoofing attacks.
We’ve looked at spoofing and how it works in this blog post. We’ve also explored the different types of spoofing attacks, and methods cybercriminals use to perpetrate these attacks. Finally, we’ve shared some tips on how you can protect your business from spoofing attacks. If you have any concerns about the security of your business or would like help testing or implementing prevention measures, please get in touch with us.
Our team is more than happy to assist with all your cybersecurity needs. Get in touch for a casual chat to see if we can help, suggest free measures or share some tips.
Harman Singh is a security professional with over 15 years of consulting experience in both public and private sectors.
As the Managing Consultant at Cyphere, he provides cyber security services to retailers, fintech companies, SaaS providers, housing and social care, construction and more. Harman specialises in technical risk assessments, penetration testing and security strategy.
He regularly speaks at industry events, has been a trainer at prestigious conferences such as Black Hat and shares his expertise on topics such as ‘less is more’ when it comes to cybersecurity. He is a strong advocate for ensuring cyber security as an enabler for business growth.
In addition to his consultancy work, Harman is an active blogger and author who has written articles for Infosecurity Magazine, VentureBeat and other websites.