← Back to Glossary

Email Spoofing


Email spoofing is a technique used by malicious actors to deceive recipients by sending emails that appear to come from a legitimate source when, in fact, they originate from a different, often malicious, sender. The goal of email spoofing is typically to trick the recipient into opening the email, clicking on links, or providing sensitive information.

How email spoofing works

Here is how email spoofing works:

  1. Fake Sender Address: The attacker alters the email headers to make it seem like the email is coming from a trusted source, such as a reputable company, government agency, or known individual.
  2. Manipulated Information: The sender’s name, email address, and other details are manipulated to mimic a legitimate sender. This could include using a familiar domain name or a display name that appears trustworthy.
  3. Deceptive Content: The content of the email may contain misleading information, phishing links, or malicious attachments. The goal is often to convince the recipient to take some action, such as clicking on a link that leads to a phishing website or downloading malware.

Example of email spoofing

Common examples of email spoofing include:

  • Phishing: Attempting to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information like usernames, passwords, or financial details.
  • Business Email Compromise (BEC): Impersonating company executives to trick employees into transferring funds or sensitive company information.
  • Malware Distribution: Sending emails with malicious attachments or links that, when opened, install malware on the recipient’s device.

How to protect against email spoofing

To protect against email spoofing, users should verify sender information by checking email addresses for legitimacy and being cautious with links and attachments. Organizations can implement email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to prevent email spoofing, and users should be educated to recognize phishing attempts and report suspicious activity.

Employing security software such as antivirus tools and email filtering solutions can also help detect and block spoofed emails.

  1. Verify Sender Information: Check the sender’s email address and verify its legitimacy, especially if the email seems unexpected or requests sensitive information.
  2. Be Cautious with Links and Attachments: Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown or unexpected sources. Hover over links to preview the actual URL before clicking.
  3. Use Email Authentication Protocols: Organizations can implement email authentication protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to help prevent email spoofing.
  4. Educate Users: Train users to recognize phishing attempts, be skeptical of unexpected emails, and report any suspicious activity.
  5. Implement Security Software: Employ cybersecurity measures such as antivirus software, anti-phishing tools, and email filtering solutions to detect and block spoofed emails.

By staying vigilant and adopting security best practices, individuals and organizations can reduce the risks associated with email spoofing.

Want to receive more great content like this for free?

Subscribe to our newsletter to get best practices, recommendations, and tips for digital marketers