Solutions for Protection Against Email Spoofing
Most of you might not know the fact that email spoofing has been a concern since the 1970s. It became a global cyber security issue in the 2000s. With the revolution of technology, spammers utilize advanced tactics to spoof emails, phone calls, IPs, DNS, etc. Though there are various ways of deceiving people, email spoofing is the most popular amongst all. By spoofing an email, hackers can achieve huge financial gain. How? Well, their main targets are business industries as every professional/business uses email as a proficient medium to communicate. Thus, it is crucial to know and get protection against email spoofing to avoid becoming the next victim.
Now, let’s move on to cover all the aspects of email spoofing!
How does Email Spoofing Work?
Email spoofing is nothing but a cybercriminal activity that tricks users to compromise their business email.
Also, you can say that email spoofing is part of a Phishing attack. Here the hackers send emails to the targeted audience with a forged sender address pretending to be a genuine sender.
The ultimate goal of sending a fraudulent email is to trick the recipient into the opening and take action in responding to that mail.
Further, there are different forms of spoofing that perpetrators follow to seek out important information (both personal and business-related). So, it is important to know the solutions for protection against email spoofing can and thus preventing it.
Making Use of Display Name for Email Spoofing
Many of you feel rather convenient in opening your emails on mobile phones. However, due to the small screen, it only shows the display name rather than the complete email address.
Hence, most of the time hackers prefer to use display name deception for email spoofing.
With this form of attack, spammers can implant the name of a trusted individual or a trusted brand (such as HDFC or SBI, etc) into the display name.
Let’s discuss it with an email spoofing example, TRUSTEDINDIVIDUAL<email@example.com>. From this, it is clear that the display name shows the identity of a trusted person whereas the email address is a fraud one. So, once you receive an email on your phone you will only get to see ‘TRUSTEDINDIVIDUAL’ on your screen.
Hackers don’t stop here. They follow other forms of email spoofing attacks as well that you need to protect yourself from.
Look-Alike Domains Narrowly Escaping from the Sight
In some cases, attackers try to dupe the recipient. They do the same by registering and using domains that are similar to the imitated domain. Hence the name of the attack is a look-alike domain attack. They just alter one character of the email address with homoglyph.
The resemblance is quite unnoticeable, such as ‘Paypal<firstname.lastname@example.org>’. Attackers exploit specific font to make it look just like the legitimate domain. Also, they use Cyrillic characters for impersonating domains.
Now, what about domain names of website addresses? How to stop email spoofing from the domain?
Vulnerability of Websites Act as the Entry Gate for Spoofing of Emails
An unencrypted ‘HTTP’ may allow the hackers to spoof the domain name of the website.
E.g. a typical website address looks like this ‘https://www.abcd.co.in’ if the hypertext transfer protocol is not secured then the spammers can manipulate the domain name from ‘abcd.co.in’ to ‘abd.co.in’. By clicking on the false website address you may get redirected to a malicious site that may take control of your device. This results in extracting vulnerable information that an intruder desires.
Moreover, the serious concern is that hackers also interfere with the legitimate domains for email spoofing.
Hackers Mislead You through Legitimate Domains
In addition to deceiving the display name, the Email Domain Spoofing attack is also a common weapon among attackers. Here they use the actual email address of the impersonated identity. It is possible because of a security loophole in the email protocol.
Also, attackers make use of public cloud infrastructure and third-party email sending services to execute such shameful actions. Since these services do not verify domain ownership, it becomes easy for the attackers to send a forged email.
Let’s take an example for a better understanding. Suppose there is an organization named XYZ and its legitimate domain name is @xyz.com. So, the email address appears to be “XYZ”<email@example.com> that hackers use to send vicious emails.
From seeing the above email address the probability of being fooled by the hacker is high. As it looks like it is coming from a legitimate source.
However, there are countermeasures to save you from the trap of the attackers and help in protection against email spoofing.
Services for Protection Against Email Spoofing
Safeguarding yourself from Email Spoofing requires a multi-layer security approach. Who can understand the process better than the Cyber Expert of India? Hence, the best and tested service that Anuraag Singh provides is ‘Email Authentication’. And it seems to be the perfect solution for protection against email spoofing. The three methods he follows for Email Authentication are:
1. DKIM(Domain Keys Identified Mail)
Just like signing your name on a cheque that proves your authenticity, DKIM is essentially a signature. Any sender for email spoofing can add this signature to their email messages. So, after receiving an email everyone should check for the authenticity of the mail received whether it’s coming from a genuine source or not.
Understanding this, you can now open your mailbox and check if your mail appears like the below example or not. If yes, then the source is a legitimate one.
Date: DEC 4, 2019, 12:27PM
Subject: Cyber Awareness Training Program
Security: standard encryption (TLS)”
Anuraag will make sure that the email that you will receive next time is going to be authentic.
2. SPF(Sender Policy Framework)
By using this method the identity of the fraudulent sender addresses during the delivery of the mail is discovered. Since SPF maintains additional records on your domain that will authorize ESPs (Email Service Provider) to send mails.
However, alone SPF has its limitation to detecting a fake sender. Hence the combination of SPF and DMARC is used to efficiently point out the culprit mail sender in email spoofing.
If email fails to cross the DKIM and SPF checks, DMARC comes into the picture. It allows the domain owner to create a policy. Further, that policy informs him that the ESPs (such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft etc) of the next steps after the failure.
DMARC has three policies to follow:
- None- Here the domain receives feedback reports. It is an entry-level policy.
- Quarantine- If the received messages fail the DMARC check then it redirects the mails to the spam folder.
- Reject- It bounces the emails from delivering if they fail the DMARC test.
Salient Points to Prevent Email Spoofing
As of now the possibility to put a full stop on cybercriminals from spoofing email addresses is negligible since they are continuously coming up with new tricks for their targets.
However, for protection against email spoofing, you are going to require a combination of email authentication and identity detection. It will ensure that spoofed emails are detected before reaching the email inbox. Along with the safety against email spoofing, Anuraag has the skills to patch the vulnerability of websites.
Also to make sure that intended targets stay safe from brand impersonation, identity theft, and email spoofing, the Cyber Security Exper helps you with trusting your inbox again.