Spoofing is when an attacker pretends to be someone else in order gain access to restricted resources or steal information. This type of attack can take a variety of different forms; for instance, an attacker can impersonate the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a legitimate user in order to get into their accounts. Also, an attacker may send fraudulent emails and set up fake websites in order to capture users’ login names, passwords, and account information. Faking an email or website is sometimes called a phishing attack. Another type of spoofing involves setting up a fake wireless access point and tricking victims into connecting to them through the illegitimate connection.
IP addresses are similar to postal addresses and route information to the correct location across networks. Data is broken up and sent in pieces called packets. Each packet contains the sender’s and the recipient’s address. IP address spoofing is possible because an attacker can forge the sender’s address and make the packet appear to be coming from someone else. A common use of IP address spoofing is a denial of service attack where an attacker using spoofing to hide the source of their attack.
Phishing attacks involve setting up fake websites or sending spam emails in an attempt to lure potential victim’s to fake websites. The “sender” field in an email can be changed easily and as long as the email message protocols are acceptable, the message will be delivered. A phishing site can look just like the real one, with the same color schemes, layout, and logos. A victim that attempts to use the site can unknowingly be submitting their personal data to criminals.
Fake or rogue WIFI access point masquerading as well known brands in airports, train stations, financial institutions, and retail locations offer attackers a relatively simple way to steal data. Some tips to protect yourself when using public hotspots are to keep your wireless radio turned off until you are ready to use it, disable file and printer sharing, and set your wireless option to “infrastructure networks only”. Programs that update automatically can also be another avenue for a wireless spoofing attack; therefore, be sure to enable the “ask me first” feature before allowing your computer to download updates.