What is spoofing?

Spoofing refers to any kind of scam or forgery in which a person fabricates, adapts, or mimics a document or object with the intention of fraudulently passing it off as something legitimate. In the case of technology, there are many ways that cybercriminals and scammers might use spoofing to trick unsuspecting internet users into handing over their personal or financial data or downloading malicious software (“malware”). Here are a few examples.

Caller ID spoofing
This is a tactic phone scammers use to conceal their identities. The scammer makes another person’s or company’s phone number appear on the receiver’s caller ID to impersonate that individual or organization. The end goal is to gain access to your personal information and/or get you to pay for a fake service. 

Email spoofing: 
Similar to Caller ID spoofing, this is a tactic where scammers forge the sender address, so that an email looks like it’s from a legitimate person or organization, in the hopes that you’ll open the email and take a certain action. The end goal is to gain access to your personal information, get you to wire money or hand over your financial credentials, make you visit a malicious website, or to deliver malware.

IP spoofing:
IP spoofing is typically used to bypass security protocols to gain access to a network. A scammer creates internet protocol (IP) packets with a false source IP address to impersonate a legitimate sender. It is most frequently used in denial-of-service attacks.

SMS spoofing:
Like Caller ID and Email spoofing, SMS spoofing is most often used to fool a message recipient into thinking the message they have received is from a legitimate person or company. These scams often try to get you to click a link or reply to them, typically for phishing and other malicious purposes. 

Website spoofing:
Website spoofing is when scammers build fake web pages that impersonate sites belonging to other people or organizations. Usually, the spoofed version will look very similar to the legitimate version, and will also have a very similar URL. As an example, a scammer might create a fake version of a popular bank’s website in order to fool the bank’s customers into handing over their financial credentials.

There are plenty other kinds of spoofing, but you probably get the idea already. Ultimately, the best advice we can give is that you always use caution online and maintain a healthy level of suspicion if anyone contacts you requesting personally identifiable information.

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