Email Spoofing

Email spoofing is a technique used in phishing and spear phishing attempts in which a person attempts to pass off a fraudulent email as a legitimate one that closely resembles a message an individual would typically receive.

Email spoofing examples

Email spoofing attempts rely on targeted individuals overlooking subtle differences in an email address or display name in order to successfully compromise information, access funds, or infect the device with malware.

The three types of email spoofing include:

  • Domain name spoofing.

    A hacker sends a malicious email from an address that impersonates the recipient’s domain name. This is the least common form of email spoofing, as they often can’t bypass DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance) technology.

  • Display name spoofing.

    A hacker sends a malicious email that impersonates a display name recognizable to the recipient. Display name spoofing is most effective when targeting mobile devices or email clients that show the sender’s name and hide their email address. DMARC doesn’t protect against display name spoofing.

  • Close cousin spoofing.

    A hacker sends a malicious email that appears to be a replica of a legitimate email address, but uses slight alterations to bypass DMARC technology. Close cousin spoofing may include Cyrillic characters that are undetectable to the human eye, or extensions that don’t match the legitimate URL.

How to stop email spoofing

A combination of modern technology and user awareness training can effectively safeguard against email spoofing. Email security solutions that use AI technology, including Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision algorithms, can analyze and detect text- and image-based email spoofing techniques. And user awareness training that provides personalized, on-the-fly instruction can also teach individuals to spot email spoofing and avoid putting your organization at risk.