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Spoofing – or impersonating a sender, domain or organization – is a serious problem in the digital world. In a world where it’s very easy to pretend to be someone you are not (social media are the best example). However, the most important thing for organizations is – that no one impersonates (“spoofs”) their domain.

Detecting someone is impersonating your domain name means that someone is impersonating you (or misleading your audience) and sharing false information. Why would this be relevant to you? Because these actions can potentially jeopardize your reputation and more. Email domain impersonation is particularly dangerous. Since email is used to communicate directly with users therefore in this article we will put special emphasis on protecting this source.

Assessing the security of your domain can make a huge difference if you are targeted by hackers looking to make a quick buck or use your domain and brand to spread ransomware or phishing passwords. Many organizations do not realize the importance of having properly secured domains – web & email.

Impersonation is when an attacker uses a fake identity from a legitimate source to impersonate another person or organization.

The procedure can be carried out as follows:
  1. Domain Name Manipulation.: Attackers can use your domain name to collect data or send emails to unsuspecting recipients who may fall victim to their malicious intentions. A fake Internet domain often mimics a domain name with alternative characters. Another method used by domain impersonation attackers is to use a cloaked URL. By using a domain redirect or inserting control characters, the URL can appear real while hiding the address of the actual website. These attacks, are particularly damaging to your brand reputation and the way customers perceive your emails.
  2. Domain or email address forgery.: Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in existing email security protocols to send emails in the name of a legitimate domain. The success rate of such attacks is higher because attackers use third-party services to carry out malicious activities that do not verify the origin of email sending sources. Because domain verification is not built into Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) – the protocol on which email is based – newer email authentication protocols such as DMARC provide greater security.

Since most organizations send and receive data via email, it is important that they use a secure connection to protect their brand. When email security is inadequate, it can lead to big problems for both businesses and individuals. In 2020 alone, brand impersonation accounted for 81% of all phishing attacks, while a single spear phishing attack resulted in an average loss of $1.6 million. Security researchers at ProofPoint predict that this number will double by the end of 2021. This reinforces the need for organizations to improve their email security as soon as possible.

Unlike multinational companies, small businesses and SME’s are still reluctant to the idea of implementing email security protocols. This is because a common myth is that SME’s are not potential targets for cybercriminals. Unfortunately, this is not true. 

Here are the most common reasons for poor security of your email domain:

  • You do not have email authentication protocols such as SPF, DMARC and DKIM implemented in your organization.
  • You have implemented the protocols but have not enforced them on your domain.
  • Errors in your authentication records.
  • You have not enabled DMARC reporting to gain visibility into your email channels.
  • You have not implemented SMTP TLS reporting to receive notifications of email delivery issues.
  • Your email messages are not secured with TLS encryption using MTA-STS during transmission and communication with the server.
  • You have not configured BIMI for your domain to improve brand recognition.
  • You have not resolved an SPF error with dynamic SPF flattening.

All of these factors make your domain more vulnerable to email fraud, impersonation and domain abuse. Hackers attack organizations based on security vulnerabilities and email security issues, not the size of the organization. Therefore, any organization with weak domain security can be a target...

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