What Is Spoofing In IT Security? 3 Actions To Keep Your Business Safe
Every business leader knows that cybersecurity tools are imperative to protect business infrastructure.
The last thing anyone wants is to become the next victim of a cyber attack. But even with strong tools in place, a lot of cybersecurity breaches begin with human error. and, with cyber threats constantly evolving, it can be tough to stay ahead of the latest threats.
While spoofing is not a new tactic, it is an effective tool criminals use to try to gain access to sensitive information or systems. The first instance of spoofing was thought to have occurred in the 1990s, but it continues to be a tool that is used today.
As an IT services provider, we work with customers who have been victims of spoofing attacks, which is why we are posting this blog article now. At Kelser, we are committed to providing the IT information business leaders like you need to keep your organizations safe from cybercrime and operating efficiently.
In this article, we’ll define spoofing, explain what a spoofing attack may look like, and explore the kinds of information these attacks target.
We’ll also provide 3 simple actions you can take to immediately improve the security of your organization and customer information as well as your devices and infrastructure.
What Is Spoofing?
Spoofing is a type of phishing attack that criminals use to steal the identity of a legitimate user and trick other users into providing valuable information or access.
By impersonating a real person, criminals are able to easily persuade someone to take action that they think is legitimate only to find out later that the request was from an imposter.
Spoofing can be done via email, text, website, phone and even via a fake IP address or fake Domain Name System (DNS) server.
What Does A Spoofing Attack Look Like?
As we noted above, criminals steal the identity of a legitimate user and pretend to be that person to initiate unauthorized actions or gain access.
For example, maybe a criminal uses AI voice cloning to pretend to be your organization’s chief financial officer (CFO) to request a wire transfer. You answer the phone, the caller id shows that the call is coming from the CFO, the caller sounds like the CFO, so you don’t question the request.
But, spoofing attacks don’t only target financial information.
Maybe you receive a message from the HR director asking you to verify the address (or birthdate or phone number) of a member of your team. It seems innocent enough, you provide the information and may never know that you just exposed your co-worker to a personal hack.
Personally identifiable information (PII) including name, telephone number, address and birthdate is privileged information. It should not be shared without proper verification. Always verify requests you receive are legitimate before taking action.
How Is Spoofing Different From Phishing?
Both spoofing and phishing fall under the umbrella of social engineering attacks and the goal is the same: to manipulate people into giving out sensitive information or information that can be used to access networks. These attacks may also infect devices or technology infrastructure with malware.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common types of social engineering attacks and typically use some kind of "bait" to fool unsuspecting users into providing sensitive information. They are usually carried out via an email that appears to be from a trustworthy source, but is really sent by a cyber criminal.
Whether trying to get login ids and passwords, social security numbers, financial information, or something else, the goal of a phishing attack is to access secure data.
What makes spoofing different from phishing is that it involves a criminal pretending to be someone they are not, usually someone the user trusts (i.e. a work colleague or a bank representative). The impersonation can happen in-person, via telephone or email, or some other way.
Related article: What Is Phishing? (& Tips To Avoid It)
What Kinds Of Information Are Targets Of Spoofing Attacks?
Spoofing attacks can target many different types of information.
As we mentioned above, they could target financial information, PII, your top-secret product designs, or the secret recipe for your famous cinnamon rolls.
Criminals may want to access your manufacturing equipment to shut down your operations. They may want to access your customer list, medical records, credit card information, or something completely different.
How Can You Keep Your Business Safe From Spoofing Attacks?
There are a number of ways to keep your organization and its data, systems, and information safe. Here are three that will have an immediate impact.
1. Invest In Security Software
Security software ensures that your infrastructure is protected.
- Email spam filtering tools
These tools check your emails against industry-standard and your specifically defined criteria for spam and virus controls.
- Email spam filtering tools
Inbound and outbound items that fail these checks are quarantined and not delivered to reduce dangerous and unnecessary email and prevent the distribution of malware, spam, and viruses.
- Antivirus software
This software detects and removes known viruses and malicious software from your device, helping prevent and contain cyber attacks.
Anti-malware thwarts attacks that would penetrate standard antivirus software.
It defends against, contains during, and helps remediate cyber incidents. It constantly tracks programs so you know exactly what is running where and when across your endpoints and sends alerts if a program suddenly turns malicious.
Related article: What Is Antivirus Software? Why Is It Important For Businesses?
2. Implement Multi-Layered Verification Procedures
It’s no longer enough to take requests at face value.
Consider implementing multiple authorization levels for significant actions.
Yes, we know extra steps mean time and time is money, but the few moments you invest to verify requests can mean the difference between keeping your information protected and becoming a victim of an expensive cyber breach.
According to the US National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack go out of business within six months. Taking a few extra seconds to verify requests can prevent your business from becoming a casualty and doesn’t require a lot of extra financial investment.
3. Provide Security Awareness Training For Employees
One of the most underused and cost-effective ways to keep employees abreast of cybersecurity threats is through employee security awareness training.
When provided regularly, it keeps security issues top of mind and is a convenient way to remind employees of existing threats and the latest tactics in use by cybercriminals.
Security awareness training also reinforces the appropriate behaviors for employees to take if they detect suspicious activities.
Related article: What Is Employee Security Awareness Training? Do I Need It?
Where Do You Go From Here?
After reading this article, you have a complete understanding of spoofing. You know what it is, what it looks like, how it differs from phishing, and the kinds of information that spoofing targets.
You also know three actions you can take to immediately improve your protections against spoofing attacks: invest in security software, implement multi-layered verification procedures, and provide security awareness training for employees.
You may have the IT resources and staff to implement security improvements internally. If not, you may want to consider working with an external IT provider.
If you are considering partnering with an external provider, I encourage you to explore several options to find a provider that is the right fit for your organization.
It may seem odd that I’m not trying to convince you to work with Kelser.
We agree that it is a different approach. But here’s the thing: while we offer a comprehensive suite of managed IT services and solutions, we know that isn’t the right option for everyone. We’re okay with that. We’d rather that you get the right fit because that’s what’s important for your business to succeed.
If you are just beginning to consider using an external IT provider, discover your options for external IT support.
Already exploring external providers? Here are the 10 best questions to ask any IT provider.
Prefer to talk to a human? Click the link below and one of our IT solutions experts will schedule a call at your convenience to learn about your business, your goals and your IT pain points to see if we may be a good fit to work together.