Email spoofing is a technique that involves identical messages that appear to come from a trusted source. The sender of the email is manipulating metadata or small details that a typical subscriber usually overlooks. The changes have been made so intelligently that they feel real. In some cases, the email remains the same; only the spelling of a word is changed. Or the business is overlooked by a customer who frequently scans the mail. I like “Abibas” rather than “Adidas” or other letter exchanges that look like the original stuff.
Email spoofing is often used on other social media platforms because it generates more credibility and allows content. Such strategies attempt to manipulate the sentiments of the target audience. Sometimes this is accomplished by creating a false sense of urgency around an imaginary problem or tapping into the victim’s compassion. Social engineering strategy usually involves harpooning or whaling.
How to identify fake emails?
First, check the subject line. The subject line, the sender’s email address, and the mail’s footer are all indicators that the email is invalid. A mail from a trusted source does not contain errors in the subject line and is grammatically correct. The domain of the sender’s email address includes the name of the sender’s company.The postal address in the footer would, in a valid mail, be the headquarter address of the sending company instead of the personal address/details. Additionally, the email’s main content consists of structured content rather than giving a vague call to action.
Such email is often classified as spam. Thanks to Google Security System. But not all mails are unrecognizable, some mails appear to be non-malicious, but they are. Spam filters can sometimes be overzealous, which is why essential emails such as order confirmations and shipping updates sometimes end up in the Spam folder. However, the purpose of spam filters is to prevent gullible recipients from falling into the trap of fake emails.
How to stop email spoofing in 2021
Although email spoofing techniques are becoming more sophisticated day by day, specific tactics can help prevent an email spoofing attack from being successful. These include technologies such as the DMARC protocol, employee training, and corporate branding. With the world moving towards digitalization, online crimes and scams are becoming increasingly evident, and one of such is email spoofing wherein the recipient is tricked into believing that a trusted source is sending them an email and thus, when the recipient replies or even opens the message, their personal information is stolen, the recipient may suffer financial losses, brand damage, etc., and their email account might be even used for launching further email attacks.
It is critically important to therefore, be able to spot spoofing, and to be better equipped with certain safety measures:
- Detailed DMARC is one of the most effective defense mechanisms against email spoofing as domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance protocol. This customizable email security policy layer enables authentication technologies, including Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain Key Identification Mail (DKIM). DMARC can protect your organization’s domain. Against any malicious use. It also sets parameters for detecting forged sender information so that you can be sure that an email is actually from the required sender.
- Like most cybersecurity efforts, employee training helps build protection from attacks capable of evading technical security. Spend time at least once a year (if less frequently) teaching your employees what to look for when they have legitimate emails rather than fake emails. Then, run some follow-up tests to see who might still be the victim of an identity theft attack. This will help ensure that everyone on your team has the correct information to take acceptable action if a fake email inevitably arrives in their inbox.
- Email spoofing can affect your customers as well. This is why a consistent branding image in marketing emails is essential to preventing a successful impersonation attempt. Your email branding should reflect your website, social media accounts, and other marketing materials, including print materials.
- Being able to spot a spoofed email can prevent you from opening such mails, employees of a company must be trained about phishing awareness in order to prevent putting the company at risk. One should inspect the email headers, especially emails that ask the person to click on a link as spoofed emails made by talented attackers can be identical to the genuine ones.
- A great majority of incoming emails containing dangerous links or attachments can be detected and blocked by using traditional email security safeguards, including those included into cloud-based email systems.
- Organizations can use the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) to determine which IP addresses are allowed to send emails on their behalf. During an SPF check, receiving servers verify the DNS records associated with the sending domain to see if the IP address used to send the email as stated in the SPF record.
- DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) generates a public and private key pair using asymmetric encryption, with the public key published in a DNS entry. When a receiving server receives an email with such a signature in the header, the server queries the DNS for the public key TXT record for the sender domain. The receiving server will be able to verify whether the email was sent from that domain using the public key.
- Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication standard that works as a policy layer for SPF and DKIM to help email receiving systems recognise when an email isn’t coming from a company’s approved domains and gives email receiving systems instructions on how to safely dispose of unauthorised email.
- Automated DMARC deployment tools also allow businesses to automate the traditionally time-consuming and expensive process of deploying DMARC across big email ecosystems covering thousands of domains.
- When registering on websites, it is advisable to use disposable accounts, in that way your private email address will not be included on dodgy lists used to send mass email messages.
- Lastly, always double-check that your email password is both strong and complex. It will be more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to your account and send false messages to your contacts this way.