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Impersonation attack

Impersonation attack

(also spoofing attack)

Impersonation attack definition

An impersonation attack is a dangerous tactic involving hackers posing as authorized users or devices in order to bypass security measures and steal sensitive information from unwitting victims. As technology continues to advance, there’s also been a rise in cyber threats like this. Impersonation attacks have destructive capabilities, such as spreading malicious software which can be turned against other targets too.

See also: angler phishing, active attack, network security protocols

Impersonation attack examples

  • Email spoofing: Attackers send fraudulent emails with a forged sender address, pretending to be a trusted entity to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
  • IP spoofing: An attacker disguises the source IP address of their communications to appear as a trusted IP address, bypassing security measures and gaining unauthorized access to systems.
  • Caller ID spoofing: Scammers falsify caller ID information to impersonate a legitimate organization, such as a government agency or bank, to trick the call recipient into providing personal or financial information.

Defending against impersonation attacks

  • Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security.
  • Verify the identity of the person or service you’re communicating with before providing sensitive information.
  • Use encryption and digital signatures to ensure the authenticity of communications.
  • Stay vigilant for signs of impersonation, such as unusual requests, grammar mistakes, or inconsistencies in communication.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security