Spoofing: 2 Most Common Types & How They’re Used In Phishing Attacks

by | November 8, 2021 | Cybersecurity, ATTACK Simulator Guides

Phishing is quite a serious issue in today’s heavily digitalized world. Spoofing is often the way attacks happen.

Let’s take a closer look at the most common spoofing techniques in a phisher’s arsenal.

Spoofing is often used in phishing attacks.

Phishing And Spoofing Go Hand In Hand

By definition, a phishing attack occurs when a scammer impersonates a trusted entity or person in an email sent to an unsuspecting target, and its goal is to steal sensitive information for further fraudulent use. The ultimate target of a phishing attack is financial gain. However, such scams can open the door for malware infections, ransomware attacks, identity theft, and the spine-chilling list could go on forever.

Email spoofing and website spoofing are the two main techniques by which scammers gather sensitive data from unlucky victims. While the two methods are sometimes used separately, you’ll often see them going hand in hand in a phishing scam. For example, let’s consider the following scenario: a spoofed email will lead you to a spoofed website; the copycat site asks you to fill in sensitive data, such as login credentials or credit card details. This combo often leads to a successful phishing attack.

What Is Email Spoofing?

While most people stay away from downloadable files and links contained in emails from unknown senders, many of them will fall for it if the sender seems legitimate. Phishers send emails that appear to come from reputable sources, such as trusted companies or even friends, family members, and coworkers.

One of the most notable forms of email spoofing is CEO fraud, in which a scammer pretends to be the CEO of a company and targets employees who wouldn’t question the required action.

How does it work?

Hackers can disguise the real origins of an email in several ways. In some cases, they strategically use subdomains to make messages look like they come from trusted senders. For example, a seemingly trustworthy domain would be the name of a legitimate company added to a term like “customer service.” As a result, the recipient is much more likely to take the required action, be it clicking on a link or downloading and opening an attachment.

In other cases, scammers slightly modify the letters in a legitimate email address. Again, the strategic transposition can trick a user who’s not paying much attention to details into thinking the email is not fraudulent. Usually, hackers don’t just alter the “From” field but also switch around the return path and the “Reply-To” fields to create the illusion of complete legitimacy.

What Is Website Spoofing?

Similar to the techniques used in phishing emails, scammers use website spoofing to lead victims to believe that they are on a reputable, trusted site, where they can provide their data with no worries in the world. The bogus web pages often appear nearly identical to their legitimate counterparts. By looking closely at the link through which you access a site, you can find the actual domain behind it. However, there are many methods to spoof URLs as well.

How does it work?

Hackers use many techniques to create spoofed sites, one of the most popular being URL cloaking. They use specialized scripts to disguise the actual link as one that is associated with a legitimate website.

Cybercriminals are also increasingly using internationalized subdomains to confuse victims and lend them a sense of trust and security. Like spoofed email addresses, URLs can also contain transposed letters that appear correct at first glance.

Keep Phishers At Bay With ATTACK Simulator’s Security Awareness Training

It’s very easy to fall for phishing scams. Your employees could give away precious company data that scammers exploit to deal your business a massive phishing blow. The aftermath won’t be short of serious financial losses, workflow disruptions, and a damaged reputation.

The best way to handle spoofed emails and websites is by continuously cultivating and exercising solid cybersecurity practices in your company. Our Security Awareness Training Program can do that for you.

When your employees learn how to read the red flags of a phishing attack, they can take their time to calmly assess the situation and examine all the details the devil may be hiding in, which otherwise would go unnoticed. To evaluate your company’s exposure and vulnerability to phishing, you can use our free security awareness training trial.

Our phishing simulations will ensure that your employees are exposed to realistic hands-on fake phishing attacks.

Choose ATTACK Simulator’s Security Awareness Training program to keep your company safe from online dangers.


Feature Image: Photo by Mikhail Nilov, on Pexels

Internet illustrations by Storyset

Online illustrations by Storyset

by Diana Panduru

Content writer for Attack Simulator. Passionate about all things writing and cybersecurity, and obsessed with driving. I sometimes indulge in pencil drawing, poetry, and cooking for fun.

There’s no reason to postpone training your employees

Get a quote based on your organization’s needs and start building a strong cyber security infrastructure today.