You receive an email from a colleague in your enterprise inbox, but something doesn’t click. They’re asking you for sensitive data they should have no need for, and it makes you feel uncomfortable. When you approach them in person, they confirm they never sent you an email and they also have no record of your responses.

When this unusual situation occurs, you realise your colleague’s email address has been spoofed to send you a phishing email.

A spoofed email uses a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server and off-the-shelf mailing software to send correspondence from any email address the perpetrator chooses, allowing them to impersonate a wide variety of trusted sources from vendors and suppliers, to account and line managers.

The earlier attack type is a common use for spoofed emails, employed to enhance the success rate of phishing messages. In the following sections, we’ll explore some of the other reasons why scammers use spoof emails, so you can keep your guard up when one arrives in your company mailbox.

Disguising a true identity

Spoofing in order to hide a real identity is typically part of a larger cybercriminal campaign, but it can be the simple objective of the scammer who does not want to raise their public profile to avoid detection or capture.

Masquerading as an official organisation

Hackers tend to go beyond the email addresses of colleagues and clients when initiating their attacks. They also spoof emails to impersonated trusted organisations from banks, building societies, and even government agencies. Common in financial crime, spoofers will attempt to collect financial credentials like car and account numbers from victims so they can part them from company or personal funds.

Sidestepping blacklists

Notorious hackers who run spam campaigns are singled out by cybersecurity experts over time and added to blacklists. This effectively ruins their operations, with all spam successfully filtered harmlessly away. In order to avoid the blacklists on which they have been included, hackers will spoof an address while conveniently still using their own account to bypass networks they have been barred from.

Stealing identities and destroying reputations

Finally, spoofers will use this insidious tactic to impersonate individuals they wish to exploit or even damage the reputation of. Issuing emails from their victim’s official address can allow them to gain personal information they can use to assume a fake identity. However, it can also be used to send out abusive emails as if they were from a specific sender, turning friends and colleagues against them. As well as individuals, this strategy can be used against companies as well, to crush the professional image of a firm in the public eye and with its customers, clients, and staff.

A safe working environment wherever you operate

At Galaxkey, we have built a cutting-edge workspace that is totally secure. With premium encryption to safeguard sensitive data and robust tools to authenticate mail and transmit and share files safely, your staff can operate free from risk. Contact our professional team of experts today and start working safely, whether you’re in the office, at home, or on the move.