Email spoofing is common with accounts that aren’t frequently used. Hackers compromise them to spread malware or viruses or trick people using your identity. They usually attempt email spoofing attacks by forging display names or creating lookalike domains.
So, read this blog till the end if you’re wondering, ‘why does my email keep getting spoofed?’.
What is an Email Spoofing Attack?
Let’s begin by understanding what an email spoofing attack is.
An email spoofing attack is a cybercrime where a malicious actor forges an email header’s ‘From’ address so that it appears to be coming from someone else, usually a known or trusted entity. So, unless you observe an email header more closely, you aren’t likely to catch it if it’s a spoofed email.
It’s a popular trick used by cyber actors for spamming and phishing. These emails generally carry malicious links or attachments that can trick you into submitting sensitive details. They can also manipulate you into downloading malware and viruses.
How do Hackers Spoof your Email?
If your answer to ‘am I being spoofed’ is affirmative, then you must know how threat actors trick you. This way, you’ll be more careful the next time.
A spoofing attack is possible by faking email syntax by deploying multiple methods of varying complexity. Here are some of the methods:
Spoofing Via Display Name
In this, only the email sender’s display name is forged by creating a new email account with the same name as the contact they’re imitating. However, the displayed sender’s email address will be different.
These emails aren’t labeled as spam because they look legitimate.
Spoofing Via Legitimate Domains
In this method, bad actors use a trusted email address in the ‘From’ header (for example- [email protected]). In this case, both display name and email address will show forged details.
Hackers don’t hijack an internal network; instead, they exploit the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) to manually specify ‘To’ and ‘From’ addresses.
Spoofing Via Lookalike Domains
If a domain is protected, it isn’t possible to spoof domains. That’s why spoofers have to create a lookalike domain. For example, using 0 (zero) instead of O (the 15th letter of the English alphabet). Say, instead of www.amazon.com, they can create www.amaz0n.com.
The trick works as most recipients don’t notice such minor spelling alterations.
An Answer to ‘Why Does My Email Keep Getting Spoofed?’
Email spoofing is common if you don’t use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols meant for email authentication. Also, inactive email accounts are more prone to this cybercrime as these are easy targets. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t use their account regularly, there’s a higher possibility of getting under hackers’ radar.
What are the Signs of Email Spoofing?
You must be wary if:
- you’re seeing emails in your ‘sent box’ that aren’t sent by you.
- you’re receiving replies to emails not initiated by you.
- your password has changed, and it’s not done by you.
- people are receiving fraudulent emails in your name.
How to Prevent Email Spoofing?
Fortunately, it isn’t too hard to avert spoofing attacks if you’re ready to deploy the following preventive measures.
Be Password Conscious
Many email spoofing attacks are a consequence of weak and unchanged passwords. So, ensure you set a strong and unique password that should be long and must include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
More importantly, you should change it once after every three months. However, if you’ve been attacked, it’s recommended to change it immediately.
Install an Antivirus
At times, email accounts are compromised by viruses and malware running in the background on your computer. So, you must install antivirus from a credible source and run it regularly to ensure your computer is safe. You must never install a free antivirus as they’re baits; in reality, they themselves contain harmful viruses and malware.
Also, check regularly if they’re active, as bad actors use corrupt codes to deactivate them before launching an attack. Steer clear of spoofing attacks by using updated antivirus and operating systems. This is because updated versions have better codes that are capable of combatting advanced hacking techniques.
Connect to Email Securely
Always connect to your email securely if you want to prevent email spoofing. This can be done using a secure web connection or setting up an SSL connection. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a technology that safeguards sensitive data exchanged between systems.
You can get in touch with your email provider to know more about how to access emails securely.
Share Your Email Address Mindfully
You must be extra careful while submitting your email address on random online platforms. These are often exploited for phishing, scamming, spoofing, etc. Share it only when you’re confident about the genuineness of the platform.
Use Email Authentication Tools: SPF, DKIM, and DMARC
SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are email authentication protocols that ensure malicious actors can’t use your email domain to attempt corrupt activities. In case they succeed in compromising your domain name, you’ll be able to stop them by monitoring reports.
SPF or Standard Policy Framework helps you submit a list of IP addresses and hostnames allowed to send emails using your domain name. All IPs and hostnames outside the list are highlighted as unauthentic.
DKIM is short for DomainKeys Identified Mail, a technology that works with an encrypted signature that goes to a recipient’s server along with an email. DKIM process uses two keys; one for the admin records on the DNS, and the second is for email servers. The encrypted signature lets the recipient’s mailbox retrieve the key for email verification.
DMARC or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance monitors if SPF and DKIM protocols are in place. DMARC also clarifies the action required if an illegitimate email passes SPF and DKIM filters.
What to do if Your Email Keeps Getting Spoofed?
If you’ve been a frequent victim of email spoofing, you must take action to put an end to it. Here’s what you can do.
Let Your Contacts Know
If you feel suspicious about email activities in your name, let your contacts be aware of it. You must ask them not to address any emails from you unless you inform them personally about the legitimate ones.
This step would protect both you and the people targeted by hackers. You never know if they’d be aiming to get control of their computers or manipulate them into sharing sensitive financial details.
Enable DMARC Reporting
A better way to stop your emails from continuously getting spoofed, enable DMARC reports for your domain’s emails. The data will provide you with enhanced visibility on your sending sources and failure results. If there are any malicious attempts on your domain, you can utilize this data to quickly respond to such attacks, track the IPs and blacklist them effectively.
Notify Your Mail Provider
Notify your email provider immediately if you feel you’re a frequent email spoofing victim. They can better monitor the email activities and support if aggrieved recipients of the spoofed email reach out to their team.
Popular mail providers like Gmail and Yahoo! have a ‘Report Spam’ option that the disgruntled recipients can be asked to use.
An email spoofing attack is attempted by forged email syntax by deploying multiple methods of varying complexity. If your answer to ‘am I being spoofed’ is ‘yes,’ you must adopt measures to prevent it. Start by installing an antivirus bought from a trusted and credible source. Apart from this, you must set a strong password and change it at least once in three months.