What Is A Spoof Email?

It doesn’t matter who you are, it’s very likely that regardless of your economic status you’ve been victim to a spoof email. This is because scammers are willing to approach any target from who they think they can obtain personal data. The truth is, spoof emails are quite easy to make. But once you know what to look for, spoof emails are fairly easy to detect.

what is a spoof email?

So, what is a spoof email exactly?

Email spoofing is a common tactic used by spammers to hack your accounts and obtain private information from you. Essentially, a spoof email is a phishing attack. These forged emails are created to dupe you into thinking that the sender is someone that you know and trust.

The reason for email spoofing is that the sender wants to maliciously obtain your sensitive data, take over your accounts, or even send malware or ransomware to your device. Email spoofing is widely used in phishing attacks by cybercriminals because, at first glance, it can easily pass as a legitimate email from a credible source. This is why so many are tricked by cybercriminals in these commonly-used phishing attacks. 

Unfortunately, spoof emails are nothing new. Email spoofing started back in the 1970s, became a well-known issue in the 1990s, and advanced to a global threat by the 2000s. Today, nearly 3.1 billion domain spoofing emails are sent out each and every day. 

Thankfully, in the year 2014, security protocols were implemented to better safeguard people’s email addresses—sending many of these potential attacks straight to junk/spam folders. But even with this new level of protection, countless email users across the globe fall victim to these phishing attacks each year. The FBI has recently reported a growing number of email fraud scenarios since the start of the pandemic. Some of which include:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kits

Becoming a victim to spoof emails can be costly. And knowing how to spot these phishing attacks is the best way to prevent them from happening to you. 

How to identify a spoof email

As we mentioned above, identifying a spoof email is simple once you know what to look for. These forged emails will often have questionable headers. The main goal of spoof emails is to trick the sender into thinking it’s authentic. And if they’re able to convince the recipient of this, they will want them to take action in some way.

If you work at a major company and have access to sensitive data, you will receive training specifically on spoof emails. This type of training is commonly referred to as security awareness training. These phishing attacks can cause major security breaches—and can even take down a company. In these cybercriminal email attacks, the sender will often pose as the CEO of a fishy overseas company, requesting you to wire them money. This form of spoof email is known as business email compromise, commonly referred to as BEC.

Here are a few tips to help you identify a spoof email:

  • A sense of urgency, our immediate call to action that seems like a desperate attempt to get you to click on a malicious link in the body of the email
  • The tone of the email seems off, typically with a strangely demanding or oddly upbeat tone
  • A spoof email will often contain several grammatical and spelling errors, and the english is typically poorly written, with poor sentence structure and syntax
  • The sender will seem familiar, often with one letter, symbol, or number appearing different than the typical address
  • The email is asking you to verify information, login credentials, or provide account information, all of which will be done by clicking on a dangerous link
  • The email will be telling you that your account is on hold/frozen, and you must make a payment to reinstate it, or that you’ve missed a payment and your account is in jeopardy

To keep yourself safe, you must always check the header of an email before interacting with it. If an email makes it to your inbox and it looks questionable, do not click on it or its links, and delete it immediately.

How to prevent yourself from spoof emails

The truth is, spoofed emails are part of life no matter what. However, it’s wise to always be conscientious about how you distribute your personal and work email addresses. Many premium email companies have advanced security protection to ensure that these malicious emails go straight to your junk folder. For this, as well as many other reasons is why you should always rely on a secure email provider.

Another method to help protect yourself by preventing spoof emails is to ensure that your anti-malware software is consistently up to date. And remember, if you ever feel suspicious about the origins of an email, always go with your gut. 

A suspicious spoof email often contains:

  • A sender’s name that doesn’t exactly match the sender’s email address
  • The URL looks odd like something is amiss
  • The email address contains more than one “@” symbol
  • The greeting of the email seems off, with not typically used salutations, i.e. greetings, good day, etc.
  • Questionable attachments
  • A feeling as if something is “too good to be true” such as if you’ve mysteriously won some sort of grand prize of luxurious vacation to an exotic island

What to do if you receive a spoof email

The most important action you can take when receiving a spoof email is to not reply to the sender or click on any of the links in the body of the email. This will only invite danger into your life and put you at high risk of attack. If you’ve identified a spoof email in your inbox, proceed with caution by following these steps:

  • Do not click on any links or open any attachments of any kind, including images
  • Do not reply to the sender, ever
  • You can report the scam should you wish
  • Delete the email from your computer immediately
  • If the phishing attack was from a legitimate business, consider contacting their corporate office to inform them of this scam

Unfortunately, spoof emails are not going away anytime soon. And there are even companies out there that make it easy to create spoof emails. The best way to protect yourself and sensitive information is to follow these best practices to prevent becoming a victim of email spoofing. Be sure to share this information with those closest to you so that they can protect themselves from spoof emails, too. If you’re ever unsure of the sender of an email you receive, you can always perform a reverse email search here on PeopleFinders.com to give you valuable insight into the sender of the email.

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