Email spoofing is a dangerous scam for a small business, and can be used for malicious purposes, such as phishing, or to simply send spam.
Here, we’ll give you information on what email spoofing is, some examples, the reasons and dangers, and how hackers do it. We’ll also give you some tips on how to keep your small business safe and avoid being the victim of email spoofing.
What Is Email Spoofing?
Email spoofing is a type of email forgery that occurs when someone impersonates another person or organization in an email. This can be done by slightly altering the sender’s email address so that it appears to come from a different domain, or by using a false name or display name.
Email spoofing is often used in phishing scams, where the hacker will send an email that appears to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or credit card company. The email will usually contain a link that leads to a fake website, where the user is then asked to enter personal information, such as their login credentials or credit card number.
Examples of Email Spoofing
One example of email spoofing occurred in 2017, when hackers sent out fake Netflix emails that appeared to be from the streaming service.
The email, which targeted 110 million subscribers, claimed that the user’s account had been suspended due to billing issues, and directed them to a fake website where they were asked to enter their login information.
Another example of email spoofing happened in 2016, when hackers sent out fake emails that appeared to be from Apple’s iTunes store.
The email claimed that the user had made a purchase, and directed them to a fake website where they were asked to enter their credit card information.
Reasons and Dangers of Email Spoofing
As previously mentioned, email spoofing can be used for a variety of reasons, such as phishing, spreading malware, or simply sending spam. However, regardless of the purpose, email spoofing is dangerous because it can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and loss of data. This is especially important to look out for when you’re running a business.
Identity theft can occur if the hacker is able to obtain personal information, such as you (or your employee’s) name, address, social security number, or date of birth. This information can then be used to open new accounts in your/their name, or to commit other types of fraud.
Financial loss can occur if the hacker is able to obtain your credit card number or bank account information. They may then use this information to make unauthorized charges, or withdraw money from your account.
Loss of data can occur if the email contains a virus or malware that infects your computer. This can lead to sensitive information being stolen, even customer information, or your system being completely compromised and can be detrimental to a business.
How Do Hackers Do It?
There are a few different ways that hackers can spoof emails, but the most common method is by using a technique called domain spoofing. This involves changing the sender’s email address so that it appears to come from a different domain.
For example, if the hacker wants to spoof an email from Netflix, they might change the sender’s email address from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ to ‘email@example.com’. The difference in spelling is often enough to fool someone into thinking the email is legitimate.
Another way that hackers can spoof emails is by using a false name or display name. This can be done by simply changing the sender’s name in the ‘From’ field, or by using a fake name altogether.
For example, the hacker might change the sender’s name from ‘Netflix’ to ‘Neflix’, or they might use a completely fake name like ‘John Smith’.
Tips to Avoid Being the Victim of Email Spoofing
There are a few steps that you can take to protect you, your business, and your employees from email spoofing.
Train your employees on all of these following items to help prevent a catastrophe. Stay up to date on the latest phishing scams and educate your employees about them.
- If you receive an email that looks suspicious, forward the email to your IT department or security team so they can investigate.
- Be suspicious of any emails that contain spelling errors, grammatical errors, or are not addressed directly to you. These are often signs that the email is not legitimate.
- Do not click on any links in an email unless you are absolutely sure that they are safe. If you hover your mouse over a link, you should be able to see the true destination that it will take you to. If the destination looks suspicious, do not click on the link.
- Do not enter any personal or financial information into a website unless you are absolutely sure that it is legitimate. If you are unsure, you can try contacting the company directly to confirm.
As the business owner, be sure to:
- Use a secure email provider: Look for an email provider that offers features like two-factor authentication and encryption.
- Use strong passwords: Be sure to use strong and unique passwords for all of your accounts, and change them regularly.
- Monitor your accounts: Keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements for any unauthorized charges, and monitor your business’s email account for any suspicious activity.
- Make sure that your computer network has up-to-date antivirus software installed, and that you run regular scans for viruses and malware. This will help to protect your system from any malicious email attachments.
- Incorporate cybersecurity training into your employee training.
Work Closely With Your IT Department Or Managed IT Service
If you believe that you have been the victim of email spoofing, be sure to contact your IT department or managed IT service team immediately. You should also change your passwords and monitor your accounts for any further activity.
Email spoofing is a serious issue, but by taking the proper precautions, you can protect yourself, your business, and your employees. With the right tools and training, you can stop email spoofing before it becomes a problem.