What Is Email Spoofing And How To Avoid It?
Cyber Security Internet of Things(IoT)

What Is Email Spoofing And How To Avoid It?

Have you ever received emails that create a sense of urgency and danger? With almost 90% of all cyber-attacks initiating from emails, chances are you have or do lie at the high risk of receiving such emails. Emails from unknown sources that promise way too rich prospects are easy to catch out of the lot. 

While most phishing emails are easily identifiable and can be managed simply by deleting the message, some types can cause severe problems and pose security risks. As per Router Login, taking the necessary steps to keep your network secure is essential. Learn how to log in to your private network’s private IP address by going through the article on our website. In the case of email spoofing, for example, a fake email may appear to come from a reputable online store and encourage the recipient to provide their details such as a password or credit card number.

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But, what about the emails that you receive from so-called “known and trusted sources”? Their credibility stays unquestioned and most often trusted as it is. This is precisely what hackers and data breachers brew advantage out of. Consider it the loophole of email systems or even smart data breachers. It is your data that you can easily access with just a click of a button. 

As the word spoof means imitating something or somebody, email-spoofing translates into a technique that hackers and cybercriminals use to dupe users into believing that a mail is from a known or a trusted source. This forged email can be an entry point to drive out vital information, credentials, monetary funds, etc.

As an example of which, consider an attacker creates a forged email that looks like it came from a trusted bank. The email warns the receiver to renew their account else the account will be blocked quickly. If the mail receiver gets tricked and types in vital credentials, the attacker gains access to the credentials and can potentially steal money. 

Fraud is a word that means an act of concealing a source of communication. Email fraud occurs when thieves use emails to mislead recipients by cheating on an email subject.

The email recipient was deceived into thinking that the email came from a reliable source and was inclined to make content on it.

What Makes Email Spoofing Possible?

With Emails serving as the backbone of most people’s professional lives and bridging the communication between two individuals and large companies, the priority lies in understanding how the deception works in email forging.  

The whole emailing system is based on Simple Mail Transfer Protocol(SMTP). The emailing is structured as follows under this:

  1. When the sender clicks on the “Send” Button, the mail is received in the server of client software used to send the mail.  
  2. The recipient’s address is then rectified, and the mail is sent to the recipient’s email server. 
  3. From there, the email is redirected into the recipient’s inbox. 

Now a significant point to be noted here is that there is no system embedded in the SMTP that checks the authenticity or credibility of the sender’s email address. The system cannot differentiate between forged and exact email addresses, thus treating them the same. This is the breakthrough that attackers get while they execute email forgery actions. 

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SECURITY PROTOCOL:

To combat this, Sender Policy Framework(SPF) was established as the standard security protocol for email systems. SPF can detect spoof and forged emails. To work in full action, the user needs to share all the IP addresses linked to a particular email domain. 

When the sender sends the email, SPF checks whether the email has been dispatched from a valid IP address. If the IP address matches, only then is the email given a “PASS” status. 

If the IP address does not match any IP addresses from the SPF database, the email is given “FAIL” status and considered a spoof. 

The point to be noted here is that the email is still sent to the desired email domain regardless of the status. It hence becomes the responsibility of the recipient to check the quality of the email. 

SAFETY MEASURES:

An important observation we see here is that even after SPF kicks in full action, it still depends on the consciousness and awareness of the user to check the status in the email header. Thus the thing to be understood here is that the protocols only assist against getting tricked by forged emails. It all comes down to the user being aware when opening emails and interacting with the same. 

There do exist some measures that the users can take to prevent cases of email-spoofing and forgery:

  1. Never trust emails that try to put out a sense of urgency and potential danger. For example, a forged bank email flashes a message to renew an account urgently, or it shall terminate the report.  
  2. Emails that flash a prosperous prospect to you or offer opportunities that can immediately benefit you shall not be trusted at all costs. The probability of such emails being forged remains very high and is mainly created to attract users at all prices.
  3. Rather than following emails that demand authentication, it would help to go on the authentic website and do the authentication task there itself. 
  4. You should carefully inspect email headers to check for forged emails and never miss SPF status. Which if it reads “FAIL,” you should not follow the selected email any further. 
  5. Avoid opening attachments from unknown sources, and you should carefully look at the emails for grammatical errors or any obvious mistakes that point out suspicion. 

It all comes down to the awareness of the user operating emails. It shall be very clearly iterated here that “CC” in the emailing world doesn’t stand for Carbon copy but stands for being “Cautious and Careful.”

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Types of Email Spoofing:

1. Unicode Destruction

The ASCII character in the domain name includes the same physical character from Unicode set in Unicode spoofing. Understanding this method requires understanding how non-Latin letters (such as Cyrillic or umlaut) are inserted. Punycode is a way to translate Unicode characters into an ASCII Compatible Encoding (ACE) display composed of letters from the Latin alphabet, hyphens, and numbers from 0 to 9, designed for use. Many browsers and email clients display the Unicode version of the domain at the same time.

2. Digging with the same background

The most advanced attack uses specially registered domains such as the domain of the targeted organization. Finding and purchasing a specific domain, as well as setting up email, DKIM / SPF signatures, and DMARC authentication will take less effort than just changing headers. However, it makes it easier to spot fraud.

3. Ad reduction

Another type of spoofing name is AD (Active Directory) spoofing, which, unlike the ghost version, does not need to provide a fake address as part of the name. Additionally, the hacker’s email address includes the name of the person being mimicked.

4. Basic light

Appearance domain is a domain name similar to that used by a corrupt organization but with few exceptions. We went through these sites in more detail in our post on Lookalike domains and How to Get Out of Outfox Them. If you try to pay for the delivery of parcels via the link in such an email, you will not only lose 3 euros, but you will also give criminals your credit card details.

5. Spoofing Ghosts

Ghost spoofing is the most common form of the process mentioned above. The attacker gives the name of the fraudulent person or company and gives the address of the sender as the name.

Other Ways of Email Spoofing:

Spoofing via display name

Display name fraud is a form of email fraud, in which case only the email sender’s display name is constructed. Someone can do this by registering a new Gmail account with the same name as the contact you want to impersonate. Note, mailto: will show a different email address.

This type of email will also go through all the spoofing protections. It will not be filtered as spam because it is a valid email address. This exploits user-designed links for easy use in mind – most modern email client applications do not display metadata. Generally, they have a place for the name shown only. Therefore, name display fraud works well due to the abundance of smartphone email apps.

Spoofing via legitimate domains

Suppose an attacker is aiming for high credibility. In that case, they may use a reliable email address on the Origin topic, such as “Specialist Support Specialist”. This means that both the displayed name and the email address will display misleading information.

This attack does not require hacking an account or accessing the company’s internal network. It only uses Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) servers that are at risk of communicating without authentication and allows you to specify the addresses “To” and “Departure”. Using shodan.io, we can identify 6,000,000 SMTP servers, many of which are guaranteed to be compromised. Otherwise, the attacker can always set up a malicious SMTP server himself.

Email Spoofing via lookalike domains

Suppose a domain is secure, and domain fraud is not possible. If so, the attacker is likely to set up a domain like an appearance. In this type of attack, the fraudster registers and uses a domain similar to the imitated domain, e.g., “@ Doma1n.co” instead of “@ domain. co”. This change may be small enough for the unwary reader to notice. It works because when did you last bother to read the email subject?

Other Reasons for Email Spoofing:

  • Establish a reliable business, such as a financial firm, to obtain credit card information.
  • Hiding the identity of false senders.
  • Sometimes sending the virus via links.
  • Sender reputation will be damaged.
  • Malware hidden in the attachment is introduced and distributed.
  • Access to sensitive information collected by foreign businesses.

Contains all the essential parts of all emails: From, To, Date and Subject. ·       

Sometimes, it’s effortless to pinpoint email releases. Apart from the obvious red flags, you only need to look at the full email header. Also, there will be metadata for how the email was delivered to you and where it came from. 

Where possible, it will also include the results of verifying your Internet service provider’s use of it to check whether the sender server has the appropriate authorization to send emails using that domain.

Never click the links to access the website where you were asked to confirm. Always type an official domain in your browser and verify directly on the site.

The steps for viewing email headlines are different for each email client, so first, look at how to view email headers for your incoming software. Then, open the email headers, check the Accepted SPF headings section, and check the PASS or FAIL response.

Email Security Software:

An email attack of active interference is very convincing. The email appears to be from a valid address and may contain a tag, tone, and content such as the specified sender.

As a result, email releases are one of the most difficult crimes to identify by hand. Negative and technical signs of a well-planned email attack are hard for people to find. Nor are legacy solutions like Secure Email Gateways or native services like spam filters.

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Intelligent technology is a great way to fight extinction – or any other type of engineering attack. Electronic email marketing (ML) solutions enable identifying and reporting fraudulent emails, making them easier, more consistent, and more efficient.

Conclusion:

There are several ways to convince a recipient of an email to be sent by a trusted sender. Though some of them seem absurd, they allow hackers to avoid post verification successfully. At the same time, spoofing is used to carry out various attacks, ranging from the theft of sensitive information to the complex BEC. They can then be used as a starting point for more complex targeted attacks. As a result, even if fraud is limited to a single attack, the consequences can range from identity theft to corporate fraud, reputation damage, and the loss of millions of dollars.

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