What is a Spoofing Attack?

What is a Spoofing Attack?

Spoofing is where an unknown person disguises communications as a trusted and known source. It is a form of cyberattack that criminals employ to meet specific malicious ends.

What Is Spoofing?

When it comes to cybersecurity, spoofing is where something or someone pretends to be something else in order to:

  • Get access to systems
  • Gain people's confidence
  • Steal money
  • Steal data
  • Spread malware

A spoofing attack comes in various forms, mainly:

  • URL and/or website spoofing
  • Email spoofing
  • IP spoofing
  • Text message spoofing
  • Caller ID spoofing
  • Facial spoofing
  • Extension spoofing

So, how do cybercriminals fool you? They often simply invoke the name of large, trusted companies to get people to take some type of action or give up information. For instance, a spoofed email from Amazon or PayPal may inquire about a purchase you never made. Then, after raising concerns about your account, you may click on the link they include in the email.

After you click on the malicious link, you are sent to a fake login page with a spoofed URL and a familiar logo, where you are prompted to provide your username and password. They may also use a malware download in an attempt to harvest your information.

Different Types of Spoofing Attacks

There are numerous types of spoofing attacks, including:

  1. ARP Spoofing. ARP spoofing is a common type of man-in-the-middle attack. It allows the attacker to intercept communications between network devices. Cybercriminals execute it by overloading a local area network with false ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) packets to allow them to tamper with the regular traffic routing process. Traffic is then redirected and read at the attacker's computer before reaching its intended location. The attacker might also distort the data prior to forwarding it the actual recipient or they may stop all network communication.
  2. Spoofing. To perform an IP spoofing attack, the cybercriminal sends falsified source address Internet Protocol packets in order to obscure the packet sender's actual online identity and thereby impersonates a different computer. IP spoofing is frequently used for setting denial of service (DDoS) attacks in motion.
  3. Website Spoofing. Con artists might try to dupe a target company's staff into clicking into a "carbon copy" of a website they regularly visit and use for their work. Sadly, black hats (i.e. hackers looking to compromise systems, steal data, or take down networks) are rapidly becoming proficient at mimicking the legitimate website:

    • Branding
    • Layout
    • Sign-in forms
  4. GPS Spoofing. With people relying increasingly on geolocation services for avoiding traffic jams or reaching their destination, cybercriminals might attempt to manipulate the GPS receiver of a target device into signaling incorrect whereabouts.

How Can I Protect Myself Against Spoofing Attacks

Some ways of protecting yourself against a spoofing attack are:

  1. Be Observant. One way to prevent spoofing is to be observant. When you are alert, you can more easily spot any substantial spoofing attempts. Keep an eye out for various types of email message errors. Also, look for unusual sentence structures or inconsistent grammar. Typically, professional business entities don't make trivial correspondence mistakes.
  2. Don't Download Unsolicited Attachments or Click on Unfamiliar Links. If you doubt the sender, you could send a separate email to the sender's actual email address, looking for confirmation.
  3. Check Out the Address of the Sender. One form of spoofing involves the sender's address being tampered with by making slight changes to the letters' positions in the address. By looking carefully, you can see if you're dealing with a false address.
  4. Look Out for Phone Spoofing. Spoofing can occur on the phone as well. Install software on your phone that traces out the right caller ID. Or, you could check search engines to see if the number is linked with spam. You could also hang the phone up and call back the correct number.


In many ways, spoofing is worse than phishing since spoofing could be an attempt to steal data. Spoofing tricks the person into believing they are doing something right, but it is actually the opposite. The person will part with the data unwittingly, thereby causing harm to the company and its safety.