Time and again, companies warn their customers that fraudulent e-mails with their name as the sender are in circulation. In such a case, the company’s reputable name is usually used to either spread viruses and worms or to engage in phishing. Such an action is known as mail spoofing. The following article will show you exactly what this is all about and how you can detect such mails and protect yourself.
Mail-Spoofing is a fraudulent attempt to deceive
Mail spoofing is often used to obtain sensitive data via phishing. Mail spoofing falsifies the sender of an e-mail in such a way that the recipient considers it to be of trustworthy origin. This could be companies or public institutions, for example, but also colleagues and friends. The message therefore gives the impression of coming from a known sender and thus tempts the recipient to open the mail.
The reasons for using mail spoofing are mainly for fraudulent phishing activities to infect the user’s PC with spyware. In addition, the disguise tactic is also popular for spreading viruses or sending spam.
The sender appears trustful
The word “spoofing” means forgery or manipulation. In principle, it is about deceiving the recipient of an e-mail in such a way that he considers the message to be trustworthy and opens it. To achieve this, the fraudsters rent a domain, for example, which makes it possible to confuse the message with the real sender. The domain has an almost identical name and therefore appears genuine at first glance.
Another possibility is the manipulation of the header by a hacker. This hacker connects to a server and changes the meta information of the e-mail to fake the sender. This allows him to send messages that appear to come from a known or reputable account – in some cases even from your own.
Good camouflage, but easy to recognise in terms of content
You yourself have probably fallen for such a fake e-mail at least once. This happens faster than you think, because manipulating the sender addresses is relatively easy and seems deceptively real at first glance. Therefore, it is unfortunately not always easy to recognize such e-mails. However, when you open them, you will quickly notice that it is an attempt to defraud.
It happens again and again that messages are sent in the name of banks or online shops that request account information and especially passwords from you due to an alleged security hole. With such requests you should always set off the alarm bells.
But senders disguised as criminal offices also use mail spoofing to spread malware and spyware. The messages are usually about a criminal charge being filed against you and more details can be found in the attachment. If you then open the attached file, the malware will install itself.
If you yourself or a friend is affected by mail spoofing
Email spoofing is particularly dangerous if you think the sender is someone you know.
However, cybercriminals often use contacts from your circle of acquaintances in whose name they send messages. Here the danger of falling for the manipulation is even greater, since you basically trust known contacts in the first place. The content is usually relatively short and usually includes a request to open a link or download a file in the attachment. Behind this, however, a Trojan or other Malware is hidden.
If you receive such an email in which a friend sends you an invoice, a tax assessment or some other document that you don’t know about, you’d better contact the “real” sender and ask what this is all about. This way you will quickly find out whether it is mail spoofing or not.
Protection against fake e-mails through prudent behaviour
The bad news first of all: Unfortunately, there is no real protection to prevent the receipt of such fake e-mails. Nevertheless, there are some measures and above all behaviour patterns that protect them from mail spoofing:
- Most mails fall into the category of “spam” and are recognized as such by common mail providers and end up in the spam folder. Here it is sufficient to simply delete the message.
- If the mail arrives in your normal inbox, they always check the sender’s address to see if it is correct (for example, correct spelling of a company name, etc.).
- Never give out sensitive information thoughtlessly, but if in doubt, ask your bank or the requesting company in person if the mail is really genuine.
- As long as you do not open any links or download attachments, it is usually sufficient to simply delete the mail.
- – Nevertheless, you should always protect yourself with an up-to-date virus program and a firewall to prevent potential attacks.