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Spoofing in Cyber Security: Examples, Detection, and Prevention

23rd Oct, 2023
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    Spoofing in Cyber Security: Examples, Detection, and Prevention

    In this article, we will talk about spoofing attack, which is ruling the cyber security domain nowadays and let’s see how spoofing plays a major role in an attacker’s life cycle to spoof the person’s identity like email address, spoofing call, phone numbers, content spoofing, home address, social media accounts, IP address, DNS information etc. So without further ado, let us jump to the definition of Spoofing in cybersecurity. Cyber security certification programs  are the best source of information on spoofing and other cyber threats.

    What is Spoofing in Cyber Security?

    An attack that appears like a legitimate one that traps people to fall into their hands and gives way to steal confidential information or data is called Spoofing. In simple words, Spoofing is not but a method to gain important or sensitive information from people behaving like genuine people or genuine customers. Cyber attackers often use well-known names and products while simulating these spoofing attacks.

    How Does Spoofing Happen

    Spoof term is often referred to as any kind of tampering or forging. Nowadays, the term spoofing is a very popular and prominent term in the cyber security domain. Spoofing can be performed in various ways through multiple methods & channels depending on the attack scenario. For a victorious attempt, a spoofing attack must be executed with the help of social engineering. Attackers use social engineering to gather users' personal information and use the same against the victims to blackmail, threaten, and fear them with stolen personal information. This makes the victim do whatever the attacker demands. In recent days, there has been a scam that has been found to be the talk of the town. i.e., grandchildren scam. Grandchildren scam is nothing, but the attacker pretends to be a member of the family and allegedly states that they are in trouble and require a lot of money to save them. These kinds of attacks are mainly framed to focus on the victims’ emotions and family situations.

    How Does Spoofing Works? with Examples

    Cybercriminals use deception techniques for spoofing attacks to portray as another user. The reason is simple, to hide their true identity to gain some sort of profit from the end users. Also, spoofing appears like some information followed by action items related to payment or financial actions. Spoofing works based on the attack scenario on how an adversary can target individual users. For example, the attacker will not be using his own mail server to send emails to users as his identity will be revealed. So he will use the mail server, which is already compromised. Also, he will be using public wifi’s in order to send emails to users to avoid track of him. Below are some common examples for your insights.

    Example 1: Common Scenarios using Spoofed Emails

    Let’s consider a scenario where the spoofing criminals can target you by sending a fake email that seems to originate from Amazon or Flipkart stating your last payment is not processed properly. Eventually, this could tempt some people to react to that email and respond to any links or attachments available in the email. From that link or attachment, the possibility of downloading malicious files or software prompts you to enter the login credentials, and you have responded. This is how Spoofing criminals steal your login credentials and gain your credit or debit card information, personal information, phone number, etc.

    Example 2: Common Scenarios using Fake SMS

    I hope everyone has faced this type of spoofed SMS where the sender's information is hidden, and the message will be appeared like “Dear, you have passed the interview, and the salary is Rs.15000 per month. For more details, please visit here (:// https [SomeMaliciousURL].com)”. If a person is seriously attending walk-in interviews and waiting for the result, these messages will make the person fall into this trap which could lead to losing his sensitive information.

    Types of Spoofing and How to Prevent It

    1. Email Spoofing

    Email spoofing is a common technique of threat actors to send emails with fake sender addresses, like a phishing attack designed to steal your data, demand money, or infect your system with viruses or malware. This tactic of spoofing is used by cybercriminals as an initial phase of the cyber attack, like the Information gathering stage.

    Spoofed emails will appear in a fashion that will prompt a user to respond to the email or click the link embedded in the email, etc.

    For example, cybercriminals will create an email that looks like it originated from PayPal where the body of the email is designed as “Response Required” and states that your account will be suspended if you are not responding to the link, which is embedded in the login word. The attacker will gain useful information and steal the money if the user is tricked successfully.

    How to protect from Email Spoofing?

    • Always check the below components of the email twice or thrice. 
      • Sender Address
      • Recipient Address
      • Body of the email
      • The return path of the email (Reply-To Configured by Sender)
      • Sender Policy Framework
      • Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance
    • Never click any link in the email which asks you to authenticate. Check URLs before clicking by hovering over them with your cursor.
    • Always check the official website for more detailed information.
    • Analyze the email headers for the received SPF section and see whether it is PASS or FAIL.
    • Copy the body of the email and paste it into google to check whether these kinds of emails are already reported by any user. Most of the spoofed emails are designed and targeted in a similar fashion only.
    • Look for spelling or grammar mistakes in the body of the email.
    • Avoid opening attachments in the email until you verify the authenticity of the sender's address.
    • If you find any information related to a financial transaction, always check with the sender by calling directly and confirming to avoid confusion.
    • Don’t fall into the trap of advertisement / promotional emails, as there are high chances of attackers gaining an advantage.

    As you enroll in CEH certification courses , you can prepare for the certification exam along with learning ways to deal with email spoofing and other spoofing techniques discussed below.

    2. Text Message Spoofing
     Text Message Spoofing

    Text Message or SMS spoofing is a technique of changing the originator details like a phone number or the source user identity for cheating or fraudulent purposes. You will not be able to block the SMS or reply to the message. The main motto of SMS spoofing is Impersonation. Scammers opt for this technique to hide their true identity and pose as a legitimate organization or company. These spoofed texts will often trick the users into responding to the URLs present, and there is the possibility of downloading the malicious file on mobile phones. Fake job offers, fake banking-related messages, fake lottery messages, money refund scams, and password reset messages are some examples of Text Message Spoofing.

    Spoofed messages are difficult to identify until the person is aware of where to look for them. The sender’s name cannot be clicked and replied. A lot of spelling mistakes will be there in the spoofed texts. Since you cannot reply to the email, you will be informed to contact them over email or phone.

    How to prevent Text Message Spoofing

    • Do not click the links in the SMS. 
    • Look for the Sender's information. 
    • If you find any information related to a financial transaction, always check with the sender by calling directly and confirming to avoid several confusion.
    • Look for spelling or grammar mistakes in the received text messages. 
    • Don’t fell for urgent or immediate action messages. 

    3. Caller ID Spoofing
    Caller ID Spoofing

    Caller ID spoofing can be performed easily. Changing the Caller ID to any other number which does not belong to the actual calling number is called Caller ID spoofing. For example, call centers will use the client’s name and telephone number on behalf of the client’s company. Unfortunately, attackers will change the caller id information and misrepresent themselves as genuine person to get data from you. This spoofing attack will happen if and only if when the attacker has your phone number with him. Your contact number of yours might be leaked or given by someone who is used for spoofing purposes.

    How to prevent Caller ID Spoofing

    • Don’t share your phone number with anyone until it is mandatory or necessary. 
    • Accept the terms and conditions after reading them carefully. 
    • Be aware of lottery tickets and online prize draws. 
    • Before providing your confidential / sensitive information, always remember to check the identity of the caller person. 

    4. Neighbour Spoofing

    This is a type of spoofing attack where the attacker will behave like a person whom you trust or who lives nearby and knows all the information about you. But the attacker will hide his identity from you and act like your neighbor giving the attacker gain an advantage over you. Many callers will act like bank officers where you hold your bank account and contact you to provide confidential information, sensitive information like OTP, etc. Also, you would experience scam calls like Charitable calls to donate money on your birthdays. All these types of spoofing attacks happen based on the information available in the attacker's hands.

    How to prevent Neighbour Spoofing

    • Register your number in the Do-Not-Call or Do-Not-Disturb List.
    • Block the numbers which you face unnecessarily to avoid repeated calls.
    • If you suspect the call is suspicious, do not answer the phone. If the phone call is legitimate, they will reach you through other modes of communication.

    5. URL or Website Spoofing
    URL Spoofing

    URL or Website spoofing is nothing, but the website is designed in a fashion which looks like a legitimate one to steal information about the users, install malware on their machine, record the session over the internet etc. These fake websites are often used for delivering phishing attacks. A fake login page could lead users to enter their login information. Spoofed websites can also be used for pranks and hoaxes. 

    How to prevent URL or Website Spoofing 

    1. Check the URL source and its origin.
    2. Check URLs before clicking by hovering over them with your cursor.
    3. Make sure the website has an SSL certificate. Look whether the URL starts with HTTP:// or HTTPS://
    4. Bookmark the important websites which you traverse frequently.
    5. Spoofed websites will not use your auto-saved credentials stored in your browser.
    6. Look for terms and conditions on the website.

    6. GPS Spoofing
    GPS Spoofing

    GPS spoofing is an unusual spoofing technique until the attacker targets you with a specific motto or purpose. This technique will broadcast a bogus GPS location rather than the actual GPS location, which could lead the user to fall into the trap. Nowadays, GPS spoofing is used in gaming applications leading users to make vulnerable. The main motto of the attack is to override the original location of the device. Shipping companies, Construction companies, and Taxi services are most vulnerable to GPS spoofing attacks.

    How to prevent GPS spoofing

    1. Companies should hide the GPS antenna, which is visible to the public.
    2. GPS should be turned off when connectivity is not required.
    3. GPS locations should be verified before taking any actions.

    7. Man-in-the-middle Attacks

    This attack involves three people: the source user, the destination user, a criminal who is in the middle of the source user and the destination user. This cybercriminal will eavesdrop on all the communication happening between the source user & destination user and wait for the right time to perform the attack. The motto of the attacker is to intercept important & sensitive information. This stolen information will be used to perform financial transactions, approve transactions, and process that will be an advantage to him, not the actual user. Sniffing, Packet injection, Session hijacking, and SSL stripping are common techniques of Man-in-the-middle attacks.

    How to prevent a Man-in-the-middle attack 

    1. Keep strong router login credentials 
    2. Enable Public key pair-based authentication 
    3. Install browser plugins to enforce requests using only HTTPS 
    4. Use Virtual Private Network while sharing the sensitive information 
    5. Have strong WEP/WAP encryption on access points 

    8. IP Spoofing
    IP Spoofing

    IP or IP address spoofing refers to the creation of an IP address with fake Source IP details. This type of spoofing attack will happen when the attacker wants to hide the IP address information while sending requests or requesting information. The spoofed IP address will look like an IP address from a trusted source, but the actual source will stay remain. This spoofing technique will be used by attackers to perform cyber attacks like DDoS against a target device or target organization so that the actual source will not be identified. Since this attack is happening at the network level, the user will not be aware that IP is tampered with or IP is spoofed. Using botnets, attackers can easily perform an IP spoofing attack. 

    How to prevent IP Spoofing 

    1. Don’t use Public Wi-Fi connections 
    2. Ensure the home network setup is safe and secure. 
    3. While browsing, go for HTTPS-encrypted websites. 
    4. Install Antivirus on your machine and ensure it is patched to the latest security features. 

    9. Facial Spoofing

    The latest and most advanced form of spoofing is facial spoofing. Cybercriminals will use the person’s face and generate facial biometrics with the help of photos or video to replace the identity. This facial spoofing will be performed in banking frauds and attacks. Nowadays, it is also used in money laundering. 

    How to prevent facial spoofing 

    1. Show proof of life in digital mode. 
    2. Always carry government IDs with you when visiting banks. 

    10. Extension Spoofing

    Extension spoofing is a technique where that cybercriminals use to run executable files which are malicious. Example: if the “test.txt” file is saved as .exe with it, the file becomes an executable one. Most of them are using this technique since the file extension is hidden and not visible in the system until the user checks the file properties for the file extension. Hence this becomes an advantage to the attackers to disguise executable malware files. 

    How to prevent Extension spoofing 

    1. Ensure the file & its extension is genuine before you open it. 
    2. While downloading the files from the internet, always check the file extension and file properties for security purposes. 
    3. Install Antivirus on your machine and ensure it is patched to the latest security features. 

    How to Detect Spoofing

    Detecting spoofing attacks are easy when you have an idea of the below things. 

    • Where to check? 
    • What to check? 
    • How to check? 

    The top 10 telltale signs to look for spoofing attacks

    1. While visiting websites, look for a lock symbol or green bar in the browser’s address bar. All secured websites will have an SSL certificate in place. 
    2. Spoofed websites will not use your auto-saved credentials stored in your browser. Keep this in mind. 
    3. Do a detailed check on the sender’s email address along with the originated domain, as the display name & username will look legitimate, but the domain is something else. 
    4. Check URLs before clicking by hovering over them with your cursor. 
    5. Always check the official website for more detailed information. 
    6. Look for spelling and grammatical mistakes. 
    7. If you find any information related to a financial transaction, always check with the sender by calling directly and confirming to avoid several confusion. 
    8. If any attachment is present in the email, look for the file properties with the file extension. Also, have a check on the file author and the timestamp to ensure when the file is created, changed, and saved. 
    9.  Sense of urgency. Don’t fell for urgent or immediate action messages. 
    10. Always trust your instinct if you feel something is weird or suspicious. 

    How can I Protect Against Spoofing Attacks


    1. Enable two-factor or multifactor authentication wherever possible. 
    2. Use strong passwords with high password complexity. 
    3. Update the spoofing software to the latest version, which is updated to the latest security patches. 
    4. Do turn on your spam filter in your email configuration.  
    5. Install Antivirus solutions on your machine & do regular scans and update to ensure the machine is protected against the latest threats. 
    6. Do check each email / SMS / call before sharing the confidential information. 
    7. Do attend cyber security certifications for a better understanding of spoofing attacks. A few of these certification preparation courses are CISA Training courseCISM Training courseCISSP Training Course, and CCSP Training Course.


    1. Don’t reveal personal information until it is necessary.
    2. Don’t use Public Wi-Fi connections
    3. Don’t click the links in the SMS.
    4. Don’t fall into the trap of advertisement / promotional emails. There are high chances of attackers gaining the advantage. 
    5. Don’t share your phone number with anyone until it is mandatory or necessary.
    6. If you suspect the call is suspicious, do not answer the phone. If the phone call is legitimate, they will reach you through other modes of communication.

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    Best Practices to Avoid Spoofing

    1. Never give out personal or sensitive information based on an email request. 
    2. Don't trust links or attachments in unsolicited emails. 
    3. Hover over links in email messages to verify a link's actual destination, even if the link comes from a trusted source. 
    4. Type in website addresses rather than using links from unsolicited emails. 
    5. Enable email protection for all devices to identify the emails that are related to spam or malicious category. 
    6. Clear spam emails from your mailbox regularly. 
    7. Educate users and people about these spoofing attacks and ensure proper training is provided to overcome these attacks. 
    8. Always change the password periodically and ensure the password complexity is met. 
    9. Always call the user before you make any kind of financial transaction. 
    10. Use a secured browser to prevent malicious ads and pop-ups. 
    11. Install antivirus solutions in your machine to protect the information against cyber threats and attacks. 


    By the end of the article, we came to know what is spoofing attack is and how to detect & avoid this spoofing attacks. Always keep in mind these spoofing attacks will be executed successfully if you respond or react to them. Ensure twice or thrice before sharing any confidential information with anyone or anything. Think before you act.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1What is the difference between spoofing and phishing?

    An attack that appears like a legitimate one that traps people to fall into their hands and gives way to steal confidential information or data is called Spoofing. Phishing, on the other side, is a technique used to steal confidential information from users using social engineering methods. 

    2What's the purpose of spoofing?

    The purpose of spoofing is to gain an advantage over the person by getting confidential or sensitive information from the user without revealing the actual identity. True identity will always be hidden.

    3How common is spoofing?

    Nowadays, spoofing is very common to gather information about the targeted user. This technique will be used as an Initial recon for information-gathering purposes. Based on that attacker will plan and perform a major cyber attack on individual users or organizations.

    4What is device spoofing?

    Device spoofing is a technique where the user will not have an idea what type of device the attacker is using (mobile phone, PC, tablet, etc.).


    Hariharann R


    I am a pragmatic security professional in SOC Operations & SIEM Engineering at CyberGate Defense, UAE with an Electronics and Telecommunication background. I am very much interested in SIEM Implementation, Threat Hunting, Creating Use Cases, Digital Forensics, Investigation and Analysis, etc. I spend my leisure time playing cricket, football and watch movies of various genres with friends. 

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