Domain Spoofing – What Is It & How to Prevent It?
Cybercriminals utilize domain spoofing as a method to carry out online scams and frauds. It happens when an attacker attempts to pose as a business, an employee, or another individual with the intent to fool and influence the target. How? Creation of a domain. Spam campaigns, phishing, spear phishing, business email compromise (BEC), and email account compromise are all intimately related to domain spoofing (EAC).
Definition – Domain spoofing is a typical type of cyberattack when an attacker pretends to be a firm or an employee by using the domain of the target company.
In reality, hackers employ such an attack in a variety of methods. For instance, it might be done by simply appending a letter to an email address or by making a phony website with a very similar address to the real one. Many people ignore these minor adjustments in their daily routines.
But, a scam’s success is not solely dependent on that. Cybercriminals frequently possess intelligence. Scams that use domain spoofing are meticulously planned. As a result, every aspect of a company’s visual identity, including its logo, colors, and other distinguishing features, is typically faked in phony emails and websites.
What are the Consequences of Domain Spoofing?
Spoofing has various negative effects besides only defrauding one user at a time:
- Spoofing can be used to launch man-in-the-middle attacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, as well as to disseminate malware.
- It can be used by attacks to conceal their identities from law enforcement and other parties.
- Attackers can trick advertisers into bidding to position their advertising on undesired sites to profit from redirecting users to those sites.
- Targeted networks might not be alerted to an attack because they are unaware that they are being targeted.
- Spoofed IP addresses provide the impression that they are real, which could help them avoid being blocklisted by firewalls and other security measures.
Different Types of Domain Spoofing
There are three main types of spoofing attacks that cybercriminals take help with. They are:
1. Email Spoofing
Attackers send emails that appear to come from a reputable sender, such as a friend, business, or governmental agency. The bogus emails may lead the recipient to a website that is poisoned, contain a dangerous download or link, or reroute the user to a website they did not intend to visit.
2. Website Spoofing
Attackers purchase a domain that resembles an authorized domain. They can use this information to produce a website that closely resembles the genuine site and send counterfeit emails to potential victims. Once on the spoof site, users could be prompted to enter their personal information, such as login credentials or financial information, or offered dangerous downloads. Ad fraud can also be carried out on bogus websites. To deceive advertisers into placing a bid for space on the faked website rather than the genuine one, the scammer uploads the fake domain to an ad exchange.
3. DNS Spoofing
A less obvious variation of IP spoofing is DNS poisoning. Those that try to access a site are sent to another site due to DNS poisoning. The “Great Firewall of China,” for instance, guides users away from prohibited sites and towards appropriate sites of various kinds to stop Chinese nationals from accessing censored websites. When deployed in this way, DNS poisoning turns into a DDoS assault due to the potential for crashes brought on by the unexpected influx of traffic to these lawful websites.
Domain Spoofing Examples and Use Cases
Consider a scenario where a hacker has produced a false website that closely resembles the website of your bank. Then, you get an email that appears to have come from your bank. According to the email, someone in a faraway nation attempted to access your account. After that, a request appears for you to click the link, visit the website, and provide data to address the problem. I assume you already know where this is headed.
It’s noteworthy to notice that in these situations, the same fraud frequently makes use of both email spoofing and website spoofing.
Also, cybercriminals may use a malicious file to install spyware, ransomware, or any other form of malware on your computer. Consider that you need to open a file that you purportedly received by email from the CEO of your business. The harm to your company could be severe.
Only email spoofing will be used by the attacker in more complex situations. He will attempt to pose as a business partner or an employee, particularly a C-level executive, to request a wire transfer or payment for a bill.
Both the website and email spoofing are associated with unlawful money-making, collecting private data that can be used in other frauds, cyber espionage, selling secret material, and even invading machines with the intent of turning them into robots, or botnets.
How Domain Spoofing Works?
An email spoofing attack may function similarly to spam in which the attacker targets users within a certain sector or organization with false messages that contain harmful links or direct them to dangerous websites. It’s not rare to see email spoofing and domain spoofing employed together because fake websites are also examples of domain spoofing.
Alternatively, a domain spoofing attack might be a part of a bigger operation, like a DDoS attack, in which attackers bombard a target website or server with traffic from fake IP addresses until those resources are exhausted and the target server stutters or fails.
How to Detect & Prevent Domain Spoofing?
Take a look at the points of the detection and prevention techniques.
- Look for extra letters or numbers in the domain. Look out for characters that are particularly prone to be misread, such as capital Is and lowercase Ls.
- Examine the email’s header data. The “Received from” and “Received-SPF” fields should be examined. The email is faked if the domains shown in these fields don’t correspond to the information you have about the purported sender. An IP address may occasionally be presented in these sections as data.
- If the domain seems to be correct, verify that the other data is accurate. For instance, if the email appears to have been sent from a business office in California, check that any area codes in the phone numbers are from the appropriate location. To check if a link leads where you expect it to, hover your mouse over it. Ensure sure the company name isn’t a subdomain; for example, if the email appears to be from SysTools, the links should go to customersupport.systools.com rather than systools.customersupport.com. The correct name must always come first, never after the.com or other file extension.
- Verify that an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate is present. A text file called an SSL certificate is used to authenticate a website’s identity and encrypt data before it is transferred to the server. Today, the majority of websites have SSL certificates.
- Validate the SSL certificate. Verify that the certificate’s listed domain is the real one and not a spoof. Check the certificate in Chrome or Brave by clicking the padlock icon in the address bar and then selecting “Certificate (Valid)” from the pop-up menu that appears. The same procedure can be carried out in Firefox, but instead of looking for Certificate (Valid) in the popup, click on the arrow to the right of the company name to bring up a message stating the connection’s security. Double-click the padlock and choose “Show Certificate” in Safari.
- Don’t click any links on the website or in the message. Instead, look for the organization and select the link from the search results.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q- What is the main objective of adversaries behind executing domain spoofing?
The main goal of executing such an attack is to deceive users into taking actions that benefit the attacker. That includes downloading malware, stealing sensitive information, clicking on malicious links, etc.
Q- How to spot a spoofed domain?
You can look for some unusual signs such as spelling errors or mismatched characters. Also, pay close attention to the website’s security indicators, such as HTTPS and you can verify the email address of the sender very carefully.
Q- What to do after suspecting a domain spoofing attack?
- Don’t engage or click on any suspicious links.
- Immediately report it to your IT security team.
- If it’s a case of email spoofing then mark it as spam.
Q- Is it possible to completely stop domain spoofing?
While it’s a challenging task to completely wipe out the attack, however, with strong implementation of cybersecurity measures, organizations can reduce the risk of such attacks to an extent.
Q- Is domain spoofing illegal?
Yes. Since such type of attack involves fraud, deception, and unauthorized use of trademarks or intellectual property, the attackers may face legal consequences.