What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (2023)

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (1)

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Bitcatcha Guest

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (2)

UPDATED

November 25, 2022

TL;DR

Email spoofing is when a scammer uses a familiar company or individual to trick recipients into thinking that the email they’ve received is from a trusted source. Typically, these emails have bad intentions and can lead to personal and professional security issues.

These days, it’s common for spoofers to fabricate sender addresses to trick recipients into opening emails – maybe even replying.

Most spoofed emails are simply a nuisance. However, more and more malicious varieties are popping up, and these can cause serious problems – even real security threats, in some cases.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about email spoofing and the different ways you can protect yourself.

Table of Contents

  • How long has email spoofing been around?
  • How email spoofing works
  • Why is email spoofing such a big deal?

How to Protect Yourself From Email Spoofing

  1. Stay sharp
  2. Call to confirm
  3. Organize your inbox
  4. Use antivirus software
  5. Regularly change your passwords
  6. Report spoofing attempts
  7. Implement Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  8. Use Domain Key Identified Mail (DKIM)
  9. Set up and implement DMARC

Wrap Up

  • Never fall prey to spoofed emails

Let’s get to it!

How Long has Email Spoofing Been Around?

Email spoofing has been around since the early 70s, but only became common in the 1990s. By the 2000s, it had grown into a major global cybersecurity issue.

Phishing, which is similar to spoofing, has been around equally as long. The main difference between spoofing and phishing is that phishing scams involve some kind of bait to lure victims in so they might click malicious links, or provide sensitive information.

(Video) How to Spot Any Spoofed & Fake Email (Ultimate Guide)

How Email Spoofing Works

Email spoofers use specialized tools to edit mail headers. This allows them to fabricate the sender’s email address, thereby making the message seem as if it was created by a legitimate sender.

Although the majority of mail clients and services today can detect spoofed emails, there are plenty of businesses that still rely on outdated email software, and this leaves them at risk of email spoofing.

The reason email spoofing is possible is that simple mail transfer protocols (SMTP) don’t provide mechanisms for address authentication.

Luckily, there are some mechanisms and authentication protocols for email addresses that have been developed in an effort to combat email spoofing.

However, the adoption of such mechanisms has been slow, which is surprising considering that spoofing and phishing tactics are on the rise, as evidenced by the image below.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (3)

Common phishing scam tactics. (Source: F5 Labs)

Here’s an Example of How Spoofing Works

Keep in mind that for email spoofing to work, the sender needs to forge a sender address that misleads the recipients as to the origins of the message.

For instance, someone might receive an email that purports to be from a well-known e-commerce seller, asking the recipient to divulge personal information, such as a credit card number or password.

The fake email might even instruct the recipient to click on a link within the message for a one-time-offer (OTO) or something like that. This is especially prevalent for products that cost quite a bit of money like PLR courses or other high-ticket items. But the link would just be to download and install malicious software on the email recipient’s device.

Another common type of phishing that is typically used in business emails involves spoofing emails that are supposedly from the CFO or CEO of a company that works with suppliers in different countries, requesting that the supplier’s wire transfers should be sent to another payment location.

Below are some screenshot examples of different types of spoof emails:

Example #1: This is an example of display name spoofing, which is significantly easier to pull off than email spoofing.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (4)

(Source: VadeSecure)

Example #2: This is an example of a spoofed email that attempts to get recipients to click the links by making it seem as if the email is from PayPal.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (5)

(Source: NJCCIC)

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Why is Email Spoofing Such a Big Deal?

Email spoofing is such a big deal because it gives the spoofer the power to accomplish their nefarious goals either by using your name or at great cost (financial, reputation-wise, etc.) to you.

Although, right now, email spoofing is most commonly known for phishing purposes, there are many reasons why someone might send emails with a forged sender address.

These include:

  • Avoiding spam block lists
    When someone is flagged as a spammer, they are typically blacklisted very quickly. For most people in such a situation, a simple solution is to switch email addresses so they can once again reach targeted inboxes.
  • Hiding their true identity
    Sometimes this is the main goal of an email spoofer. However, if hiding their true identity is the sender’s only intention, then there are much easier ways to do so, such as registering an anonymous email address.
  • Pretending to be someone who’s known to the recipient
    This is a more likely reason for email spoofing, and spoofers might employ this tactic in order to gain access to sensitive information or personal assets.

Email spoofers might also pretend to be someone from a business or brand that is in a relationship with the recipient in order to gain access to personal data such as credit card details, or bank login details.

These are just a few of the reasons why someone might send spoofed emails. Yet another (albeit less likely) reason is that the sender might be trying to attack the character of the assumed sender and tarnish their image.

Or, the spoofing could be done as a way to commit identity theft by getting access to the victim’s health care or financial accounts, and so on.

(Video) 11 Tips for Identifying Fake Websites and Phishing Emails

The bottom line is, it’s clear to see why email spoofing is such a big deal. And with the stats showing that nearly 45% of all emails sent daily are either spam or spoof emails, you can see why it’s important for you to learn how to protect yourself from such situations.

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9 Tips to Protect Yourself from Email Spoofing

Although statistics like the one mentioned above make it seem as if there’s no hope of evading the cybercriminals who create spoof emails, the good news is there are certain email spoofing warning signs that you can watch out for, as well as steps you can take to protect yourself against email spoofers.

Below, I’ve listed 9 of the most effective tips to keep spoof emails out of your inbox.

Tip #1 – Stay Sharp

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from spoofing attacks is to remain vigilant against common types of email spoofing.

For instance, look out for warning signs, such as:

  • URL typos
  • Forced urgency
  • Generic greetings
  • Strange attachments
  • Generic email domains
  • Mistakes and inconsistencies
  • Requests for personal information

In addition to making it a habit to scan emails for the warning signs listed above, another simple way to identify email spoofing is by manually checking email headers.

For instance, in Gmail, you can click the down arrow next to “Reply”, and then select “Show Original”. Copy the text on the page and paste it into a message header tool like this one to see if the return path for the email is the same as the sender’s email address.

Also, avoid opening attachments that you were not already expecting to receive, particularly if they come with abnormal file extensions.

By keeping an eye out for things such as these, you make it less likely that you will be fooled into revealing information to a scammer.

Tip #2 – Call to Confirm

Being on your guard may not always be enough to protect you from spoofers. If you receive a suspicious email, another thing you can do to protect yourself is to call the company to confirm whatever is being required of you.

For instance, if you’re prompted by someone to download webinar software, you may want to contact them directly to confirm this is needed.

Employers and companies typically have all the information on you that they need. They will likely never email you to request things like credit card information, user credentials, and so on.

So, if you receive such an email, it’s best to call the sender directly to confirm if it is, indeed, them asking you to submit personal information.

Make sure you use the number listed on the real or official website. Manually enter the company’s URL in your browser and check for any signs of website spoofing before taking any information off of the website.

Tip #3 – Organize Your Inbox

By keeping your inbox organized, you’ll make it less likely that spoofed emails will actually succeed. One reason why spoofing email addresses is so effective is that people keep their inboxes disorganized.

This is not surprising when you consider that over 319 billion emails are sent and received each day (of which, as previously mentioned, nearly half are spam).

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (6)

(Source: Statista)

When recipients find dozens of emails in their inboxes from unknown addresses on a daily basis, sooner or later they stop paying any attention to the details, which results in a higher number of successful spoofing instances.

One way to avoid this is to keep your inbox neatly organized. You can easily use a smart inbox organizer app to make the process effortless. You will also be able to easily bundle your emails together for convenient viewing and automatically unsubscribe from unwanted subscriptions.

Such an app will also make it easy to block malicious senders with a simple click and prevent them from reaching your inbox.

Tip #4 – Use Antivirus Software

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself against email spoofing is to use antivirus software, like Avast that includes multiple advanced features for real-time threat detection.

There are many other effective antivirus software options to choose from, but whichever one you go with, make sure that it has a web shield and email shield to protect you against phishing emails, spoofed emails, and spoofed websites that cybercriminals love to create.

Tip #5 – Regularly Change Your Passwords

If email spoofers somehow manage to get your credentials, there isn’t much they’ll be able to do with them if you already have new passwords.

Make sure you regularly change your passwords and create strong passwords that are impossible for others to guess.

(Video) TOO MANY EMAILS? Use THESE Proven Techniques | Outlook tips included

You can use a password manager to store them securely.

Tip #6 – Report Spoofing Attempts

It’s important to report any spoofing attempt, whether by email or on a website. After all, if something like this happens to you, you’d want others to let you know, wouldn’t you?

So, if you receive a spoofed email, let the sender know that they have been spoofed, and in doing so, you might help prevent future attacks.

Most companies have a page on their website where you can easily report any security issues such as spoofing.

Tip #7 – Implement Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

As a website owner, the sender policy framework (SPF) allows you to publish a DNS record that explicitly states which service can send emails on your domain’s behalf.

Although a bit complex to implement, this is an effective email authentication mechanism that will help protect you against spoofers by identifying the machines that are authorized to send emails on behalf of your domain or host.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (7)

(Source: mybluelinux.com)

It does so by including additional records in existing DNS information which then allows recipients to confirm that the IP address sending the email is allowed to do so on behalf of the “envelope from” email address.

This confirmation takes place before the actual body of the email is downloaded, which makes it possible to reject any email from a spoofer long before it can do harm.

Tip #8 – Use Domain Key Identified Mail (DKIM)

Although SPF can be quite effective for deterring email spoofing, it’s often not enough when used on its own. Another method you can use to thwart cybercriminals is to implement domain key identified mail (DKIM).

This is a sort of digital “signature” used for signing outgoing email messages and validating incoming ones to help detect email spoofing.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (8)

(Source: Twilio SendGrid)

This method involves using cryptographic keys to sign specific pieces of a message. It’s designed to prove that the outgoing email was actually sent from your domain and that it didn’t get modified in transit.

This method helps you establish greater trust and prevents email spoofers from sending outgoing messages on your domain.

Tip #9 – Set up and implement DMARC

DMARC (short for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is an emerging umbrella standard that gives the sender an option to let the receiver know if the email is protected by SPF/DKIM, and the actions they can take when dealing with any emails that fail authentication.

It is an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol that uses both of the previously mentioned technologies (SPF and DKIM) to provide information pertaining to the email domain, such as its alignment, failures, compliance, etc.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (9)

(Source: DMARC.org)

Although not yet widely adopted, this technology works effectively for deterring spoofers, and it has the added benefit of making it a lot less likely that your emails will be marked as spam.

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Wrap Up: Never Fall Prey to Spoofed Emails

As long as we have email, we will always have email spoofing. That’s just an unfortunate fact!

But, there are increasingly more effective ways to protect yourself and your business against cybercriminals who are desperate to get their hands on your personal and financial information – as well as that of your customers.

Use the tips in this article to make sure that you never fall prey to spoofed emails.

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(Video) 10 MIND-BLOWING Tips for Gmail Users!

This post was written by Ron Stefanski

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (10)

Ron Stefanski is an online entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market online businesses.”

Learn more from him by visiting his website OneHourProfessor.com, YouTube or LinkedIn.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (13)

About The Author

This article is written by our guest author. His (Her) views are entirely his (her) own and may not reflect the views of Bitcatcha. Apply to be a guest writer here.

What is Email Spoofing? Here Are 9 Tips To Outsmart It (14)

FAQs

What is meant by email spoofing? ›

Email spoofing is a technique used in spam and phishing attacks to trick users into thinking a message came from a person or entity they either know or can trust. In spoofing attacks, the sender forges email headers so that client software displays the fraudulent sender address, which most users take at face value.

What is email spoofing and how is it identified? ›

Email spoofing is a type of cyberattack that targets businesses by using emails with forged sender addresses. Because the recipient trusts the alleged sender, they are more likely to open the email and interact with its contents, such as a malicious link or attachment.

What does a spoofed email look like? ›

If the email is spoofed, the received field information won't match the email address. For example, in the received filed from a legitimate Gmail address, it will look something like "Received from 'google.com: domain of'" and then the actual email address.

How can email spoofing be prevented? ›

Gmail administrators should set up email authentication to protect their organization's email. Authentication helps prevent messages from your organization from being marked as spam. It also prevents spammers from impersonating your domain or organization in spoofing and phishing emails.

What is spoofing with example? ›

In its most primitive form, spoofing refers to impersonation via telephone. For example, when a caller on the other end falsely introduces themselves as a representative of your bank and asks for your account or credit card info, you are a victim of phone spoofing.

What are 4 types of spoofing attacks? ›

Spoofing can take many forms, such as spoofed emails, IP spoofing, DNS Spoofing, GPS spoofing, website spoofing, and spoofed calls.

What are the signs of spoofing? ›

Spelling errors, broken links, suspicious contact us information, missing social media badges can all be indicators that the website has been spoofed. Website addresses containing the name of the spoofed domain are not the official domain.

What is spoofing and how do you prevent it? ›

Spoofing is a cybercrime that happens when someone impersonates a trusted contact or brand, pretending to be someone you trust in order to access sensitive personal information. Spoofing attacks copy and exploit the identity of your contacts, the look of well-known brands, or the addresses of trusted websites.

What is the reason for email spoofing? ›

The ultimate goal of email spoofing is to get recipients to open, and possibly even respond to, a solicitation. Although the spoofed messages are usually just a nuisance requiring little action besides removal, the more malicious varieties can cause significant problems, and sometimes pose a real security threat.

What happens when you are spoofed? ›

Spoofing, as it pertains to cybersecurity, is when someone or something pretends to be something else in an attempt to gain our confidence, get access to our systems, steal data, steal money, or spread malware. Spoofing attacks come in many forms, including: Email spoofing. Website and/or URL spoofing.

What is the difference between being hacked and being spoofed? ›

When an email address has been spoofed, the spammer doesn't gain access to your email account. Hacking, however, is a different story. Hacking. This is when a criminal actually gets into your email account.

What happens if you open a spoofed email? ›

Just opening the phishing message without taking any further action will not compromise your data. However, hackers can still gather some data about you, even if all you did was open the email. They will use this data against you to create more targeted cyber attacks in the future.

Can you stop spoofing? ›

Spoofed numbers can be blocked on an Android device the same way as any spam caller or unwanted contact. Open your Phone app on your home screen and find the Settings menu. Tap Block numbers. If your phone has caller ID and spam protection, enable this too.

Which techniques can be used for anti spoofing? ›

The most reliable anti-spoofing technique uses a 3D camera. Precise pixel depth information provides high accuracy against presentation attacks. The difference between a face and a flat shape is discernible. While 3D attacks still cause difficulties, stable performance makes this technology the most promising.

What is anti spoofing techniques? ›

Antispoofing is a technique for identifying and dropping packets that have a false source address. In a spoofing attack, the source address of an incoming packet is changed to make it appear as if it is coming from a known, trusted source.

What are the two types of spoofing? ›

Thankfully, there are different solutions that detect the common types of spoofing attacks, including ARP and IP spoofing. In addition to identifying such attempts, anti-spoofing software will stop them in their tracks.

How common is spoofing? ›

Spoofing is a global issue, though American organizations are key targets. U.S. controlled internet protocol addresses are responsible for 25 to 29 percent of known spoofing attacks.

What are spoofing tools? ›

In IP spoofing, a hacker uses tools to modify the source address in the packet header to make the receiving computer system think the packet is from a trusted source, such as another computer on a legitimate network, and accept it. This occurs at the network level, so there are no external signs of tampering.

What are the ten 10 types of system attacks? ›

Let's start with the different types of cyberattacks on our list:
  • Malware Attack. This is one of the most common types of cyberattacks. ...
  • Phishing Attack. ...
  • Password Attack. ...
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack. ...
  • SQL Injection Attack. ...
  • Denial-of-Service Attack. ...
  • Insider Threat. ...
  • Cryptojacking.
11 Nov 2022

What type of threat is spoofing? ›

In cybersecurity, 'spoofing' is when fraudsters pretend to be someone or something else to win a person's trust. The motivation is usually to gain access to systems, steal data, steal money, or spread malware.

What are 3 types of attacks? ›

Denial-of-service (DoS) and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack. Phishing and spear phishing attacks. Drive-by attack.

Can you find out who spoofed you? ›

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to uncover a spoofed number as the technology makes it too easy for people to do without leaving a trail.

Can spoofing be detected? ›

To mitigate spoofing, users must be alerted when there is a spoofing attempt. GNSS Resilience and Integrity Technology's (GRIT) situational awareness techniques include spoofing detection, so users know when a malicious attack is occurring.

Can you trace spoofing? ›

If you want to know how to trace a spoofed call, you usually need to get law enforcement involved. In other cases, tracing a spoofed phone number can be done using your telephone company. Telephone companies can sometimes trace spoof calls back to where they came from.

What type of security is good protection against spoofing? ›

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Using a VPN will allow you to keep your traffic protected via encryption. This means that even if your network falls victim to ARP spoofing the attacker won't be able to access any of your data because it has been encrypted.

What is the best method for defending against IP spoofing? ›

This threat vector is often the foundation for denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and complex social engineering attacks. To defend against IP spoofing, take a holistic approach—use a combination of packet filtering solutions, specialist firewalls, employee training, and next-generation data loss prevention (DLP).

What is the risk of email spoofing? ›

Email spoofing can greatly increase the effectiveness of phishing and other email-based cyber attacks by tricking the recipient into trusting the email and its sender. While spoofed emails require little action beyond removal, they are a cybersecurity risk that needs to be addressed.

What can someone do with your phone number email? ›

Your phone number is an easy access point for scammers and identity thieves. Once they know your number, they can use it to send you phishing texts, trick you into installing malware and spyware, or use social engineering attacks to get you to hand over your personal identifying information (PII).

How easy is it to spoof an email address? ›

The necessary tools to spoof an email address are not hard to come by. All a hacker requires is a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server and the appropriate mailing software to use with it. Any reliable web host can provide an SMTP server and hackers can also install an SMTP on a system they already own.

Can someone send email using my email address? ›

Sending Email Through Your Email Account

Just like you do, if a spammer gains access to the username/password of your email account, they can log in and use your email server to send emails.

How long does email spoofing last? ›

Spoofing is a temporary issue that will often be resolved in a few weeks when the spammer will move onto another email address. A temporary problem does not make it any less frustrating, but it is important to consider this generally does not indicate account compromise.

Can you spoof a text message? ›

The internet has been invaded with tools that alter names and mobile phone numbers. All it takes is one download, and fraudsters can send text messages from whatever number they choose, using names of well-known companies or even banks. Some businesses even offer spoofing online services, but this borders on illegal.

What are the common red flags of a spoof email? ›

Look out for:

Incorrect (but maybe similar) sender email addresses. Links that don't go to official websites. Spelling or grammar errors, beyond the odd typo, that a legitimate organization wouldn't miss.

Can someone spoof my email address? ›

How email spoofing happens. When you send an email, a sender name is attached to the message. However, the sender name can be forged. When spoofing happens, your address can be used as the sender address or the reply-to address.

Does spoofing change your IP? ›

Internet Protocol (IP) spoofing is a type of malicious attack where the threat actor hides the true source of IP packets to make it difficult to know where they came from. The attacker creates packets, changing the source IP address to impersonate a different computer system, disguise the sender's identity or both.

Is there an app to stop spoofing? ›

One popular option is SpoofCard, which is available for iOS and Android.

What are the elements that attackers commonly spoof? ›

11 Different Types of Spoofing Attacks to Be Aware Of
  • ARP spoofing. ...
  • MAC spoofing. ...
  • IP spoofing. ...
  • DNS spoofing (DNS cache poisoning) ...
  • Email spoofing. ...
  • Website spoofing. ...
  • Caller ID spoofing. ...
  • Text message spoofing.
14 Feb 2020

Why is it called spoofing? ›

The verb and noun spoof both refer to trickery or deception, and they trace their origins back to a game called "Spoof" (or "Spouf," depending on the source you consult), supposedly created by the British comedian and actor Arthur Roberts.

Is email spoofing legal? ›

Is email spoofing legally a cybercrime? Creating disposable email addresses to, say, sign up for a free trial is technically a form of spoofing. However, the law gets involved when spoofing actively tries to impersonate another sender, especially when the goal is to steal valuable information or money.

What is the difference between email spoofing and phishing? ›

Differences between Spoofing and Phishing

Spoofing is an identity theft where a person is trying to use the identity of a legitimate user. Phishing is where a person steals the sensitive information of user like bank account details.

What is spoofing in Gmail? ›

How email spoofing happens. When you send an email, a sender name is attached to the message. However, the sender name can be forged. When spoofing happens, your address can be used as the sender address or the reply-to address.

What is the most common type of spoofing? ›

Email Spoofing

This is the most common type of spoofing attack where the victim is targeted using email communication. The sender looks like a trusted source with an email address that closely resembles the original address.

Does the FBI call your phone? ›

Since criminals sometimes use “spoofing services” to choose the number or name that shows up on your phone, the call may appear to come from a government agency, from a consulate, or from the FBI or the police, but it actually does not. These calls are fake or “scam” calls.

How did my email get spoofed? ›

Exposed email addresses can easily be acquired by cybercriminals, from compromised mailing lists, public message boards and even company websites. Email spoofing takes place when a message's identifying fields are modified so the email appears to originate from an individual other than the real sender.

Why do people use spoofed emails? ›

The ultimate goal of email spoofing is to get recipients to open, and possibly even respond to, a solicitation. Although the spoofed messages are usually just a nuisance requiring little action besides removal, the more malicious varieties can cause significant problems, and sometimes pose a real security threat.

What are 3 types of phishing emails? ›

What Are the Different Types of Phishing?
  • Spear Phishing.
  • Whaling.
  • Vishing.
  • Email Phishing.

How do spoofers get my contacts? ›

The FROM header can be spoofed and the spammer can use any SMTP server that lets them log in, but to steal the contact list they have to log into the account.

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