Identity spoofing occurs when a scammer assumes the identity of another person/entity and uses that identity to commit fraud. Spoofers steal credentials from people or businesses through password attacks and credential capture processes.

Identity Spoofing

They use those credentials to facilitate phishing, pharming, identity theft, and business email compromise (BEC) by relying on the trustworthiness of the original identity. Identity spoofing differs from content spoofing, in that the spoofer attempts to “change” the identity of the sender rather than the content being sent. Often these spoofs lead to business email compromise and identity theft, causing organizations millions in losses and/or damages.

Most common forms of identity spoofing

It can be hard to determine whether you face an identity spoofing threat. Users often trust familiar names and addresses despite the possibility that they may be compromised. Familiarize yourself with several forms of spoofing in order to spot them in the future.

ARP Spoofing

ARP spoofing occurs by binding the spoofer’s MAC address (their Media Access Control address) to a legitimate IP address’s default local access network (LAN) gateway. Essentially, a spoofer takes the place of the destination IP and through that spoofing, gains access to their local network. With this access, they capture sensitive information and access unrestricted information on the network. They also manipulate information before it reaches the legitimate IP address. Spoofers then carry out phishing and pharming attacks and assume new identities based on the information they receive. Additionally, ARP spoofers attempt a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) which overwhelms existing security systems by dramatically increasing the number of users it must authenticate.

MAC Spoofing

Each device should have a unique Media Access Control address (MAC) that should not be encountered elsewhere. However, spoofers take advantage of vulnerabilities and imperfections in hardware to spoof the MAC address. As a result, the local network recognizes the MAC address and bypasses certain security protocols. Because spoofers operate with a trusted address, other users fall victim to business email compromise fraud, data breaches, and more. In addition, with trusted access, a spoofed address can deposit malware on a local network. Spoofers then prey on vulnerabilities and steal sensitive information.

IP Spoofing

The source or destination of a virtual message traces back to an IP address associated with a physical location. However, spoofers mask themselves with a legitimate IP address or assume the IP address of someone in that low-risk geolocation. Because many systems do not implement authentication protocols, the masked IP address takes the place of the legitimate source without the legitimate sender or recipient’s knowledge. With this IP spoof, a spoofer can deploy a man-in-the-middle attack within a network, allowing them to steal sensitive information and inform themselves for future fraud attempts. IP spoofing relates to geolocation spoofing:

Geolocation Spoofing

One can spoof their geolocation using a Verified Protected Network (VPN). Some companies offer this direct-to-consumers to protect their information as well as access location-restricted content. Fraudsters use VPNs to place themselves in low-risk locations to avoid their sender information being flagged as an anomaly. Additionally, they use them to mislead security efforts and mask their location to avoid being traced.

Fraudsters also use geolocation spoofing to place themselves in particular states or countries to take advantage of lessened restrictions in the new geolocation. For example, a user in California spoofed their geolocation to play online poker in New Jersey, taking advantage of New Jersey gambling laws. State law in both states prohibits this, so both states located and apprehended the user. The user forfeited about $90,000 in winnings.

DNS Spoofing

Spoofers assume a Domain Name Server (DNS) identity by piggybacking on DNS server caching flaws. As a result, users click on a domain name they trust, but end up on a replica page that leads to phishing or pharming attacks against the user. They click on links within that page and expose themselves to these attacks because they trust the original domain. DNS spoofs, just like many other identity spoofs, often lead to a loss in reputation for the business due to users’ trust being violated by the replica site.

This relates to website spoofing, the use of a replica site in order to steal user information. Spoofers target websites that employees use routinely for their work and construct an almost exact replica. Users click on the link to a trusted website, not knowing that the URL is spoofed. They interact with the website, unknowingly entering sensitive credentials or providing backdoor access to their local network. These spoofs are usually most effective when combined with phishing emails.

Caller ID Spoofing

Spoofers forge caller ID information, presenting false names or numbers and assuming the identity of particular people or organizations. Public networks and Voice over IP (VoIP) networks make this more possible. Callers answer these, believing their legitimacy, and often share credentials or bank account information due to their trust in the legitimate identity. These calls tend to originate in foreign countries where certain protections may not apply to the caller if they find out that they have been scammed.

Email Spoofing

Sender information in the “From” section of an email can be spoofed to hide the origin of fraudulent emails. As long as an email fits the protocols needed by the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) Server, a spoofer easily sends from a falsified email address. The consequences resemble those of IP spoofing and Caller ID spoofing. Spoofers either leverage a man-in-the-middle attack or receive sensitive information, relying on the trustworthiness of the legitimate entity.

GPS Spoofing

Although this is a relatively new form of spoofing, it poses an especially dangerous threat. Identity-based GPS spoofing takes the form of a rebroadcast of a genuine signal, or broadcasting fake signals that very closely represent legitimate signals. A spoofer takes on the identity of the trusted GPS satellites, sending falsified or genuine information with malicious intent.

What Are the Consequences?

The results of a spoofing attack are harmful and detrimental to both compromised identities and those exposed to the spoofer. Several attacks are carried out with various forms of spoofing:

1. Man-in-the-middle attacks

In a man-in-the-middle attack, a spoofer reroutes traditional virtual traffic using a spoofed IP to view the information being sent or manipulate the message on its way to its legitimate destination. Man-in-the-middle attacks are also caused by ARP spoofing and MAC spoofing, both similar to IP spoofing.

2. Phishing

Spoofing often leads to phishing, as it weaponizes the trustworthiness of a recognizable entity. Phishing attacks attempt to capture sensitive information by asking users to click compromised links. Once a user clicks the link, they make themselves vulnerable to back door attacks, where scammers then load malware onto their computer or network to capture more sensitive information.

3. Pharming

Pharming relates to phishing. It often directly results from DNS or Website spoofing. Spoofers send an email from a “trusted” entity and ask a user to click on the link to a website and enter credentials. Those credentials are sensitive data like name, date of birth, address, credit card information, bank information, and more, leading to identity theft and financial reputation destruction.

4. Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise (BEC) directly results from spoofing. Scammers use spoofed email addresses from trusted entities to deceive users into sending money or identity information. They use an organization’s name to steal material goods, while the organization gets billed for items they do not receive. Much like other results of spoofing, users trust particular senders and organizations, so they input their information without verifying identity.

Is There a Way to Combat it?

Despite the attack-on-all-fronts that spoofing seems to be, there are ways to mitigate risks. When emails request sensitive information, users should follow up with the sender through another form of communication. Verifying by phone call to make sure that the request is legitimate frequently reveals a compromised identity, saving both the recipient and the spoofing victim.

Another form of protection is multi-factor authentication (MFA), much like the previous method of verifying a request. When entering credentials into an email server or an in-network computer, a user must verify their identity through a separate method. This takes the form of a phone call, text message, email, or push notification to an MFA application.

In addition, you can track how information moves within your network, screen senders based on a set of attributes, and ensure the validity of every source and destination address in your network. offers a variety of products to combat spoofing, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Even as attacks get more sophisticated, the product evolves with them and learns new ways to combat them.

Contact us for a demo and product recommendations today.