Do you know that scammers are touching new heights to fetch your personal details? A new scam called URL spoofing involves using a trusted company name and sending emails with non-Latin characters to trick you into believing that the lookalike platform is a legitimate source.
Domain or URL spoofing is a scam in which cybercriminals create a scam website and make it look exactly like a genuine source with little differences in characters, accents, or glyphs.
The spoofed URL might appear as an authentic source that you will trust. For example, cybercriminals can spoof a URL of your bank or a shopping website that you love.
The purpose of URL spoofing is to trick users and collect their sensitive information to steal their money or identity.
Each year, millions of users get tricked by fake websites. Hackers follow utter sophistication in creating fraudulent links. A user believes that he is using a trusted website for shopping, but the fake website is so undistinguishable to the point where the user falls victim and mistakenly hands over his information to hackers.
Now, you must be wondering how to spot a fake website to secure your sensitive information? You will find the answer in this blog. First, let’s get some understanding of how URL spoofing works.
URL Spoofing – The Basics
URL spoofing is a trick to create a fake URL of a trusted source to gain users’ trust to the point where they enter sensitive information like home address, phone number, email, credit card number, and password. When any user inserts the details on a spoofed URL, all of the information is delivered to the hacker.
Later, a hacker can easily steal money from your account using your credentials or sometimes steal your identity using your profile information for illegal activities.
Not all spoofed links are meant to gain users’ information. Some fake links are malicious and expose your device to malware when you click on them.
How do Spoofed Websites Work?
Spoofed emails and websites cannot work without traffic; therefore, hackers distribute spoofed links using phishing attacks. These fake links are attached with text messages or emails and then delivered to millions of users. Moreover, such emails lure users with enticing deals and discounts, and when you click on them, your device gets exposed to malware.
Also, hackers create fake emails and websites with imperceptible changes where visual design, logos, and branding effects seem like a legit platform. The spoofed URL looks so real; hence, the visitors easily get tricked and provide information that’s being asked.
How to Spot a Spoofed URL/Website?
You can spot a fake URL by giving some attention to it. It’s suggested that before clicking any URL make sure to hover your mouse on it and carefully look for spellings and glyphs.
Also, if you noticed that the URL is correct but the offered deal is somehow doubtful then don’t click on it. Simply type in the official website address in your browser bar and see if the company is really offering any such discount or deal.
You can call or directly email the business instead of clicking on the link, as it might be a phishing scam to trap you.
Moreover, also watch for the URL address, it should be HTTPS as it is the most secure protocol over a computer network. If your URL is HTTP instead of HTTPS, then drop your session straightway.
Last but not least, do your research on the latest security tools and online scams. Keep updating your antivirus software and browser. Advanced browsers like Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Opera use special encoding called Punycode to prevent users from visiting spoofed websites.
Also, always try to connect a VPN before going online. A VPN encrypts your traffic and blocks unwanted access that might be a source of malicious content.
URL Spoofing Attacks – The Most Common Types
Particularly, there are four major types of email spoofing attacks that hackers use to fetch user information. Below you can read the most mainstream examples of URL spoofing attacks:
This is one of the most typical forms of URL spoofing in which hackers hyperlink a particular word or button in an email. As soon as a user clicks on it, he redirects to a malicious website where malware installs onto the device.
Homograph URLs look exactly like registered domains but contain different diacritics and accents. It means that any hacker can create a new domain similar to a reputable source using slightly different characters. The internet will consider the new domain as an entirely different one. But, in reality, it’s very hard to detect for a common user, and he will easily get trapped by cybercriminals.
These days short URLs are very common and often appear on websites, social media, and sometimes in emails too. Hackers use URL shorteners as a way to spoof a URL. Such URLs are very short in length; hence don’t let you figure out where it is actually redirecting you.
Misspelled links are also a mainstream way to spoof a URL. Hackers create a link similar to a reputable source and change a character that’s difficult to distinguish. Users who never pay attention to the spellings easily fall victim to a malicious site. The best bet to stay secure is always to hover over the link before clicking on it. Carefully see the spellings and other minor differences.
Lookalike websites are dangerous as they are hard to detect and trick Internet users into revealing personal details onto fake sites. Following a few tricks will help you stay secure from spoofed URLs. Never click links that you see in the emails, check for spelling errors, and stay away from the links that are not following HTTPS protocol. Lastly, always keep your browser updated, and don’t click links that pop up on your social media feeds.
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