About the Author
Ankush Johar is a serial entrepreneur with interests in telecommunications, media, technology, and cybersecurity. He's had the privilege of influencing key policy decisions for nations and international organizations such as the UN, ITU, and BEREC (Body of European Regulators), among others. He holds an Honors degree in Economics and a Masters of Sciences from City University, London. He makes regular appearances in print, on radio and on television channels like the BBC, Sky News and CNBC, and speaks about mobile and internet-related topics.
What is Email Spoofing?
Any organization irrespective of size or industry largely depends on emails as an integral part of its communication process. Employees get involved in the transmission of emails either as senders or receivers. It is also worth noting that emails often contain highly confidential and sensitive information like account details, transaction details, employee information, and so on. Although these emails get intercepted by the organization’s security system, some are sent from illegitimate or compromised email accounts and pass undetected.
Email spoofing can be referred to as the act of sending emails using a fake sender address.
It tricks the receiver into believing that the email was sent by someone they know or trust.
It is usually used in a phishing effort to gain access to the victim’s accounts and sensitive data, deliver malware, and even cheat them of money.
Spoofing attacks are used by cybercriminals to fool recipients into thinking that the email message came from someone it didn't. Furthermore, it has become exceedingly easy for attackers to send a spoofed email as spoofing requires little technical knowledge. Any mail server can be configured to appear the same or nearly identical to a reputed brand’s mail server.
At the peak of the worldwide pandemic in late 2020, we observed that phishing incidents had increased by a staggering 220%. The real figures could be substantially higher because not all spoofing attacks are conducted on a large scale. Since the dawn of 2021, the situation appears to be worsening.
How Big of a Threat is it?
No organization or industry is spared when it comes to spoofing attacks. Even tech giants like Google and Facebook fell victim to a spoofing attack that cost them $100 million. A series of fake invoices were sent to each of the firms by attackers impersonating a large Asia-based manufacturer.
Here are some of the major spoofing stats:
- 3.1 billion domain spoofing emails are sent per day.
- Since 2016, email spoofing and phishing have cost the global economy an estimated $26 billion.
- 90% of all cyber attacks start with an email message.
- $3.86M was the global average total cost of a data breach in 2020.
- 75% of organizations suffered some kind of phishing attack in 2020.
- 31% of the cyber attacks were accomplished by phishing scams.
- 35% of the cyber attacks were accomplished by scanning and exploiting vulnerabilities.
A company's brand identity is crucial to its success. Customers are drawn to well-known companies. Cybercriminals, on the other hand, take advantage of this trust by whatever means necessary, putting your clients' security at risk through phishing emails, malware, and email spoofing. An average organization loses between $20 million and $70 million per year to email fraud.
Spoofing attacks can harm your organization in the following ways:
- Damages your brand reputation: Regardless of the size or sector of your firm, cybercriminals will seek to spoof your domain and online presence for malicious intentions. Spoofing attacks compromise trademark law and other forms of intellectual property theft that can considerably harm your brand and credibility.
- Loss of customer trust: If your customers open a fake email, their personal information could be stolen, their system could get infected, and sensitive and confidential data could be robbed. As a result, they could lose trust in your company and may be hesitant to open your legitimate emails in the future.
- Major financial losses: Spoofing attacks at times may lead to major direct and indirect financial losses for your organization. You can refer to the top 10 most damaging spoofing attacks in history here.
Spoofing Attack in 3 Simple Step
We can break the lifecycle of an email spoofing attack into three basic steps:
In the first stage of a spoofing attack, the attacker gathers specific information on the target company such as the specific service they use or products they outsource. This is one of the reasons why even data breaches involving no sensitive information may end up being dangerous.
Many scams convince the victim that one of their accounts has been compromised, thus generating a sense of urgency and forcing the target to respond hastily. The attacker can then redirect the victim to a page or trick them into clicking on a link that gives them access to the victim's information.
This is the final stage in the lifecycle of a spoofing attack, wherein the attackers make use of the compromised information or data for their own interests. The type of action will depend on the nature of the attack and intention of the attacker.
DMARC - A complete solution to spoofing attacks
DMARC (Domain Based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) is an
email authentication standard or protocol that determines whether an email is authentic
or not. It relies on SPF and DKIM, two other protocols, to decide the authentication status of an email.
DMARC provides visibility of an email’s original sending address and not the address it claims to be from. It ensures better deliverability and provides complete security to ensure that your domain does not fall prey to spoofing, phishing scams, or impersonation attacks.
Apart from giving companies and organizations complete security and control of their email domains, DMARC’s implementation provides many other advantages like brand recognition, security of brand reputation, and reduced email bounce rates.
EmailAuth also offers a free DMARC Record Checker to display your record, test it, and verify that it is valid. All you need to perform a DMARC check is to provide your domain name. The tool will then analyze and display your DMARC record along with other information. Similarly, you can also verify your DKIM and SPF records using EmailAuth’s free and automated tools: DKIM Record Checker and SPF Record Checker.
In case you don’t have a DMARC record published for your domain, you can use EmailAuth’s DMARC Record Generator to generate a record instantly.
Original source: https://telegra.ph/Email-Spoofing-How-to-Prevent-It-in-2021-10-12