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Spoofing attack

Spoofing attack definition

A spoofing attack is when a person or program poses as another entity by falsifying data to gain an illegitimate advantage. It often involves tricking other people or computers into thinking they're communicating with a trusted source when they're not.

See also: email spoofing, website spoofing, domain spoofing, biometric spoofing

Spoofing attack types

  • IP spoofing. In IP spoofing, an attacker changes the source IP address in a network packet. They may do it to conceal their identity or to impersonate another computing system.
  • Email spoofing. Here, an attacker sends an email with a forged sender address. This is typically to make the recipient believe the email is from a trusted source, often for phishing purposes.
  • Caller ID spoofing. This type of spoofing involves altering the caller ID to display a different number or name, often used in scams to gain victims' trust.
  • Website (or URL) spoofing. In this attack, the attacker creates a fake version of a real website. Their aim is to trick users into providing sensitive details like usernames, passwords, or credit card details.
  • ARP spoofing. Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) spoofing involves using fake ARP messages to link the attacker's MAC address with the IP address of a legitimate local area network (LAN) user.
  • DNS server spoofing. This involves changing the DNS server settings to redirect the domain name to a different IP address, which often leads to a fake website. This is also called DNS cache poisoning.
  • GPS spoofing. This involves sending false signals to deceive GPS receivers and is often used to trick drones or other autonomous vehicles.

Dangers of spoofing attacks

  • Data theft. Spoofing attacks often aim to steal sensitive data. It may include login details, credit card information, and other personal or corporate information. This data can then be used for identity theft, fraudulent transactions, or other malicious purposes.
  • Unauthorized access. By impersonating a trusted device or user, attackers can gain unauthorized access to secure networks or systems. This helps them bypass security mechanisms and potentially access or alter sensitive information.
  • Malware infection. Spoofing attacks can be used to trick users into downloading and installing malware, such as viruses, ransomware, or spyware. That may potentially lead to widespread system damage or data loss.
  • Reputation damage. In the case of email or website spoofing, attackers can send fraudulent messages or create fake websites in the name of an organization, damaging its reputation and eroding customer trust.
  • Phishing and scams. Spoofing is a common technique used in phishing attacks and various scams. This is when an attacker poses as a trusted entity to trick victims into providing sensitive data or transferring money.
  • Denial of service (DoS) or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. In IP spoofing, attackers can overload a network or service by flooding it with traffic from spoofed IP addresses, causing a DoS or DDoS attack.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. Some types of spoofing (like ARP or DNS spoofing) can facilitate MitM attacks. This is when an attacker intercepts and possibly changes the communication between two parties without their knowledge.
  • Disruption of systems or services. GPS spoofing can disrupt systems that rely on GPS for navigation or timing, such as drones, ships, or emergency services.

Watch it explained: IP Spoofing