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All about Email Spoofing

MailXaminer | February 5th, 2018 | Forensics

With rise in email communication, its hind side also appeared in the form of email spoofing. Skepticism can help protect users against any harm, else email forensics is there.

What Is Email Spoofing?

Let us understand what is email spoofing. This word, “spoof” ha the literal meaning that suggests it as “falsified”. An email that is spoofed email is that state when the sender has purposely altered some parts of that particular email for masquerading as though that email had been authored by somebody else. Usually, senders’ names/addresses, as well as message bodies, are commonly formatted to be appeared from some legitimate sources, as if those emails have come from some banks or newspapers or other legitimate companies over the Web etc. At times, the email spoofing person makes that particular email appear to become from some private citizen at some place. In most of these cases of email spoofing, the email that is spoofed is a phishing part attack. In other such cases, spoofed emails are utilized for dishonestly marketing some online service or selling some bogus products like scareware etc.

Why Are Emails Fraudulently Spoofed by Some People?

One purpose behind email spoofing could be that the email spoofers may be attempting to “phish” the passwords as well as login names. Forgery or phishing is where dishonest senders hope towards luring people into trusting their email. False or say spoofed websites would wait off to side, and are usually disguised to appear quite legitimate ones, like those of online banks or paid Web services etc. Many times, it happens that victims easily believe thee spoofed emails and tend to click to these false websites. Trusting spoofed websites, victims enter their passwords and login identities, and then start receiving false error messages like “website unavailable” etc. During this time, dishonest spoofers capture victims’ confidential information and proceed towards withdrawing their funds or perform several other types of dishonest transactions for the purpose of monetary gain.

Another purpose behind email spoofing can be that the email spoofers are the spammers, who are trying to hide their true identities, while still filling users’ mailboxes with ads. Utilizing the mass-emailing software, most of the spammers usually tend to change the source email addresses to be appeared as innocent citizens, or as legitimate companies or government entities. The purpose could be forgery or phishing, which is to get users to trust their emails enough so that they open them and read their spam ads inside those emails.

How Does Email Spoofing Work?

Malicious or dishonest users tend to alter various sections of emails for disguising the senders as to be somebody else. Some properties can easily be altered by using users’ settings in their Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, or other similar emailing software. IP addresses can be even altered, but that usually needs much more sophisticated user-level intelligence and more knowledge for making some false IP addresses convincing.

Is Email Spoofing Done by Dishonest People Manually?

Though some of the spoofed and altered mails are surely falsified manually by hand, but a large majority of such spoofed mails are usually created via special software. Using mass-mailing programs like “ratware” is highly widespread among most spammers. These Ratware programs would at times run such massive in-built word-lists for creating numerous targeted email addresses, spoof source emails, and then even blast those spoof emails to those found targets. At other times, these ratware programs tend to take some illegally-acquired email addresses’ lists, and then they send their spam emails as per that. Other than these ratware programs, there are also mass-mailing worms, which also abound. These worms are usually self-replicating programs, which act as some types of viruses. Once on the computers, these mass-mailing worms read users email address books. Then these mass-mailing worms would falsify outbound messages for appearing sent from the names in those address books only, and proceed with the sending of those email messages to users entire friends’ list. This would not just offends many recipients but would also tarnish reputation of innocent friends of targeted users.

How to Recognize Email Spoofing and How to Defend against It?

Just like any other con-game in our lives, the best defense to email spoofing lies in skepticism! If any emails don’t seem truthful enough, any senders seem non-legitimate, then just do not click open those links or do not type email addresses there. For file attachments, the word is NO for opening them, lest they may contain virus payload. Also, any of the emails seem too good to be actually true, then such skepticism may save users from divulging their banking information. Email forensics also has a good role to play for any such utterly harmful mischief done through email spoofing.