Most people use email every day, whether for professional or personal purposes. Users send and receive emails without a second thought. But as many benefits as email provides in everyday life, there are also risks that users need to watch out for. Malicious links, email phishing, and email spoofing are all issues that users should be aware of to best protect themselves. In this article, we’ll explore email spoofing and why it’s a problem, as well as how you can protect yourself.
What is Email Spoofing?
Email spoofing is a technique that hides an email’s origins. There are moral uses for email spoofing. However, many times, this activity is done fraudulently and with malicious intent. Senders can trick recipients into believing that the email came from someone they can trust, when in reality, it came from another person or place altogether. Thanks to new security protocol in the last decade, email spoofing is more easily caught by email servers and sent to junk mail, but spoofed emails still get through. Uses of email spoofing include advertising, scamming, phishing, and more.
How It Works
The basis of email spoofing comes down to SMTP—that is, the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. SMTP is an application layer push protocol. It sends emails from one address to another. However, no authentication is in place for sent emails, which opens the door for email spoofing. Essentially, email servers have no way to tell if a sender address is legitimate.
Senders falsify email data in spoofed messages so that the received email appears to display a different sender address. Spotting a fake sender address is difficult unless a user looks for one. Most of the time, users open these emails from forged addresses and expose themselves to malicious links and false information.
Email spoofing has a number of effects on recipients. Some are merely annoying, and others can be significantly damaging to the recipient.
There are many reasons for email spoofing. Someone may just want to conceal their identity and send an anonymous message. Advertisers and spam mailers often use email spoofing to get their message out to recipients and avoid block lists. Hackers use the technique to attempt to gather sensitive information or bank details from recipients if they disguise themselves as the right sender. Recipients could have their identity or information stolen in this case. The biggest danger to email users is the similarities between fraudulent and legitimate emails. When done well, spoofed emails can look so much like legitimate emails that users are fooled into treating it as such.
Protect Yourself From Email Spoofing
Although detecting a spoofed email can prove difficult, there are many ways that users can protect themselves against the dangers of email spoofing and phishing. First, many recipient servers already seek to detect spoofed emails, which helps eliminate the messages before they ever reach a user’s inbox. Not every server is capable of this, however.
Email users should also keep these things in mind when evaluating whether or not an email is from a false sender address:
- Never open attachments from unknown sources. Malicious links and viruses are sent as links or downloadable files from random senders.
- If something seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
- Many scammers will send the same message to multiple people in an attempt to garner more victims. If you think that an email’s contents seem suspicious or impersonal, put the email into Google. See what results come up . If the text is registered as a common scam, this will show that.
- Download and use a high-quality security software to prevent malware that may get onto your computer from a spoofed email.
- Check to see if everything on the email lines up. Does the email address of the sender line up with their name? Does the tone seem consistent with what you’d expect from the alleged sender?
- Don’t give any private information to someone asking via email. Always confirm that they are who they say they are.
Email spoofing can become a big problem, but staying aware and smart will help keep you and your email accounts safe.