What is Email Spoofing?

Email spoofing is a type of cyber attack whereby the sender forges an email header or modifies the “form address” to impersonate a legitimate sender. This deception tricks the recipient into clicking on a link or downloading a harmful attachment.


How does Email Spoofing Work?


1. The sender forges the send address

Attackers change the “From” address in the email header to impersonate a trusted sender. This means that the recipient erroneously believes that the email has come from a reliable source.


2. Phishing links or attachments are added

Spoofed emails often contain malicious links or attachments designed to steal personal information or install malware. Recipients are lured into clicking these links or opening attachments under the false assumption that they are safe.


3. Social engineering tactics are employed

To convince recipients to click on the malicious link, attackers often add a false sense of urgency. I.e., they include messaging like “urgent! Your account is at risk” or a similar phrase.


4. Exploiting email authentication mechanisms.

Email security protocols, like SMTP, do not inherently verify the sender’s identity, making it easier for attackers to spoof email addresses.



Types of Email Spoofing

  1. Display Name Spoofing

    In this spoofing attack, senders change the display name of the email account used to send the harmful link. For example, they’ll copy the name of a known brand or company. However, the actual email address won’t match, and discerning recipients will notice the discrepancy.

  2. Email Address Spoofing

    Attackers forge the domain part of the email address to mimic a legitimate domain. For example, attackers will create an email address – info@app1e.com, using number “1” instead of a letter “l”. Many recipients won’t notice at first glance.

  3. Reply-To Spoofing

    In this method, attackers modify the reply field, deceiving the recipient into replying to a different email address. This tactic is often used in business email compromise (BEC) attacks to intercept sensitive communications.



How to Prevent Email Spoofing Attacks

There are several approaches that brands must adopt to prevent email spoofing attacks.

  • Email Authentication Protocols

    Implementing email authentication protocols, such as SPF, DKIM , and DMARC. These security protocols work to detect and block spoofed email domains.

  • Employee Training

    Regular training and awareness programs can help employees identify and report spoofed emails.

  • Email Filtering and Security Solutions

    Email filtering automatically sorts suspicious emails into spam folders. Which means employees are unlikely to see the email, and less likely to trust its contents if they do.

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