Online scams are on the rise in our high-tech world today and we’ve all heard these intimidating, yet dangerous scams before. Many rely on good old phone calls to trap their victims, while other attackers may use email, websites, and more. The minute you comply with what they have asked you to do, whether it be calling a number or clicking a link, just like that, you are now a victim of a spoof attack.
What is Spoofing?
Spoofing is a cybercrime where someone impersonates themselves to be a known, trusted source or brand in order to obtain personal information. According to the Internet Crime Report, 28,218 spoofing victims accumulated a total of $216,513,728 in the U.S. alone. This number reflects one of the top ten cybercrimes the U.S. experienced in 2020.
So, the real question is, what makes us prey to these convincing attackers? Simply using the name of a trusted company will often have victims overlooking the information being asked of them. Think of how often you use Amazon – outside party cybercriminals attempt to access personal information by sending emails requesting your username and password, or even install software. Because Amazon is such a reputable company, you probably wouldn’t even second guess that this email is a spoofing scam!
Common Types of Spoofing
- Email Spoofing – This occurs when cybercriminals mimic a trusted email or domain designed to steal personal information. Although their email address and business name seem legit, when looking closely, you may find minor details that show that the email is a scam. These could include errors in the subject line, the domain of the sender doesn’t match the company, and the messaging may be very vague.
- Website Spoofing – This is all about making malicious websites seem real and recognizable. A fake website can be difficult to identify, making it easy for attackers to lure their targets into clicking links that contain malware that can ultimately jeopardize their personal information and identity.
- Caller ID Spoofing – An oldie but a goodie! These con artists use numbers to make it appear that the call is coming from a trusted recipient, or from a specific geographic location. In some cases, it may even include a company logo or address to increase the chances of the victim answering the phone. Often posing as customer support, their goal is to convince their victims to disclose information or pay fictitious bills.
- Text Message Spoofing – This is a technique used to change the sender’s display name and number. Businesses often spoof their numbers for marketing purposes, while scammers use it for malicious intent. By presenting themselves as a legitimate company, they mislead their victims and coax them into clicking a link or downloading malware.
Common Signs of Spoofing
Scammers wouldn’t be as successful if they weren’t this convincing. But we’re smarter than that – here are some signs of spoofing attacks to watch out for:
- Odd requests – Banks and businesses will never ask you to share your personal information or passwords over email. If this situation arises, never do it and consider it as a spoofing attack.
- Bad grammar or spelling – Many of the attacks are done from countries abroad. In this case, scammers may have poor English skills and will most likely have spelling or grammatical errors in their messaging. Keep your eye out for deceiving emails that may seem they are from a trusted organization, but really aren’t such as amaz0n.com rather than amazon.com.
- Urgency – More often than not scammers will come up with scary stories that may frighten you into thinking the situation is real. Don’t fall for it.
- Links and attachments – Beware! These are often malware or an attacker seeking to retrieve logins and personal information.
How Can I Protect Myself Against Spoofing?
You can call but you can’t hide! In this ever-growing digital world, learning how to spot a spoofing attack is important to keep yourself safe from cybercriminals who are out to get you. Although attackers may attempt to use our vulnerabilities or lack of tech knowledge against us, it doesn’t mean that we can’t use online safety precautions to minimize risk.
Netsweeper provides protection against spoofing attacks to prevent businesses from falling victim. Our advanced AI-driven content filtering solution provides security against malicious websites, blocks viruses, malware and hacked websites, and any other risky content to ensure that businesses are not being exploited.
If you haven’t read them yet, check out our other Online Scam Series blog posts to learn more about prevention and protection against online attackers:
- Online Scam Series: Catfishing
- Online Scam Series: Credit Card Fraud
- Online Scam Series: Online Gambling
Submitted by: Natasha Pande