What Is Email Spoofing?
Email is one of the most common avenues for cyberattacks and cybercriminals often use it to deliver malicious content. Studies show that approximately 1.2% of all emails sent worldwide are malicious, translating to about 3.4 billion emails daily. But why are email attacks so common? Email is a widely used form of communication, and email-based attacks are relatively inexpensive and require minimal effort compared to other forms of cyberattacks.
Today, users are becoming more aware of email-based attacks, so I.T. support services have become stronger. To counter this, cybercriminals have devised various techniques to trick users into becoming victims of these attacks. One of these techniques is email spoofing. In this post, we’ll look at what email spoofing is and how to protect yourself and your business from these attacks.
What You Will Learn In This Article:
How Does Email Spoofing Work?
Email spoofing is a technique where a cybercriminal sends an email to a business employee using a forged email address. A spoofed email looks like it is from a trusted source, like a government agency or a recipient’s coworker, when in a real sense, it is from a hacker or a corrupted computer. Email spoofing aims to get recipients to open a spoofed email or respond to a solicitation that comes with it.
Spoofed emails can be used for malicious purposes, such as phishing, spamming, or spreading malware. For example, a spoofed email might ask the recipient to click on a link that leads to a fake website, where the user is prompted to enter sensitive information, such as credit card details or login credentials. Alternatively, a spoofed email might contain an attachment that, when opened, installs malware on the recipient’s computer.
Since numerous spoofed emails are sent daily, many are easy to spot. This is because they typically contain the following:
– Threatening messages
– Incorrectly spelled URLs
– Impersonal greetings
However, very convincing varieties can cause serious implications to a business if they successfully trick the recipient employee.
What Are the Implications of Email Spoofing for a Business?
A successful email spoofing attempt can have devastating implications for a business, including:
Loss of Sensitive Data
A spoofed email can trick a business employee into giving up their login credentials and provide cybercriminals a way into a business’s database. Cybercriminals can then access sensitive data, for instance, customers’ social security numbers, and ransom or sell it. Loss of sensitive data can cause irreparable damages such that your business I.T. support team may be unable to fix them.
If word gets out that a business has been a victim of email spoofing and subsequent data breaches, this will severely damage its reputation. According to Forbes, 46% of enterprises have suffered a damaged reputation after a successful data breach. Customers will be skeptical about trusting your business with their information.
Customer data is legally protected under protection laws such as GDPR, CCPA, etc. If your business loses sensitive data due to email spoofing, you could get sued and use your capital to pay off fines.
Loss of Productivity
Your business won’t be able to resume daily operations until you resolve the cyberattack. Plus, after this type of incident, businesses must invest in additional training and awareness programs to educate employees about phishing risks. This requires time and resources, temporarily reducing productivity as employees participate in training sessions or workshops.
It is difficult for business I.T. support teams to snuff out these attacks since spoofed emails can bypass even the best SPAM filters. Even if businesses outsource their cybersecurity operations to a managed I.T. services provider, employees can still become victims of an email spoofing attack.
With that in mind, how can small and medium businesses protect themselves from email spoofing?
How to Protect Your Business from Email Spoofing
Several technical and non-technical ways to protect your business from email spoofing exist. The non-technical methods lay the foundation of your defense which you can then fortify with the technical methods.
Here are some simple methods to protect your business from email spoofing;
1) Train employees to identify spoofed emails
It is easy to identify a majority of spoofed emails. However, if your employees have never been exposed to a spoofed email, they can be easily tricked by it. To counteract this, you must conduct educational programs to train your staff on spotting spoofed emails. You can incorporate these programs into your company policy and make it a continuous practice.
2) Limit the sharing of sensitive information over email
You can make a company policy that bans employees from sharing sensitive information over email. This way, no important information will be lost even if an employee gets tricked by a spoofed email.
The non-technical approaches only provide superficial protection against spoofed emails. You can take it a step further and implement the following technical precautions.
3) Evaluate how your email accounts respond to the DMARC protocol
Using email authentication protocols is one of the most secure ways to protect an organization against email spoofing. One such protocol is the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) protocol, which checks the credentials of an email.
It allows domain owners to specify which email servers are authorized to send emails on their behalf. It provides a mechanism for receiving feedback on handling emails that fail authentication checks. DMARC uses two processes to authenticate an email message:
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
- Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM)
If an email message fails either of these processes or their alignment, it fails DMARC and will be rejected. Spoofed emails will likely be rejected since they won’t be from an authorized source. To implement DMARC, you might need the help of a managed I.T. services provider.
4) Encrypt outgoing emails
Email encryption ensures that the content of emails remains confidential. In the case of a phishing scam, even if scammers manage to intercept email communication, the encrypted content remains unreadable to unauthorized individuals. These I.T. solutions protect sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial data, or customer details, from falling into the wrong hands.
5) Use an anti-malware program
Effective anti-malware programs provide real-time protection, continuously monitoring email communications and web browsing to identify potential phishing attempts. They use up-to-date threat intelligence and databases to recognize known phishing patterns, malicious URLs, or deceptive email content. By proactively blocking such threats, these I.T. solutions minimize the chances of employees being tricked by phishing emails and clicking on malicious links.
Read Our Other Cybersecurity Training Guides
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About Cinch I.T.
Since 2004, Cinch I.T. has provided customer-focused I.T. services for businesses of all sizes. Whether you need a business continuity plan or a reliable cloud computing office, our computer support offers the fastest and friendliest service in the industry. Cinch is one of the nation’s fastest-growing I.T. support franchises, with 12 locations and counting. To learn more about our managed I.T. solutions, visit cinchit.com. For more information about I.T. franchise opportunities, visit cinchfranchise.com.
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