Pretending to be someone else to steal sensitive information or scam people out of money is one of the oldest tricks in the book. It’s no surprise that this technique is standard practice on the internet since digital communication is so efficient and easy.
Spoofing is a cyber attack that leverages a known brand to gain a victim’s trust. Faking identities to steal information or scam people out of money is one of the oldest tricks, but, to no one’s surprise, this technique has flourished online in recent years. In fact, the practice is so common that brand impersonation attempts rose by over 366% in the first half of 2022.
It makes sense. People are much more likely to give over information or click on a fraudulent link if they believe they are interfacing with a well-known, trusted brand. With the deluge of digital communication flooding everyone’s inboxes, it’s easy to see how a well-constructed spoofing attempt can fool most professionals who give them only a quick glance.
These attempts often take the form of a simple phishing email with a fraudulent link. However, many hackers go a step further by designing entire websites to replicate the brand, often registering a domain that seems legit at a glance.
This blog post will look at the world’s most spoofed brands, why they’re favorites of many hackers worldwide, and how you can consistently detect and avoid spoofing threats.
Who are the most spoofed brands in the world?
According to a recent study by cybersecurity company Check Point, these are the top 5.
While none of these companies are shocking as impersonation attempts, it is surprising to see LinkedIn accounting for a whopping 52% of all recorded spoofing attacks. The other names on the list reflect the widespread digital transformation that all organizations have grappled with since 2020, especially regarding remote productivity concerns.
This Microsoft-owned organization is the king of impersonated brands, and it’s not too difficult to see why. LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks still in operation and tends to be trusted by users because of its business focus. Additionally, LinkedIn often sends emails to its users to notify them of new activity on their profiles, such as new status updates, private messages, and new jobs that might interest them.
It’s a sad reality, but hackers also capitalize on their victims’ potentially weakened mind states as they use LinkedIn to search for a new job. Job hunting is stressful, and people are bound to jump at the occasion of answering a direct message from a potential employer or even applying for a hot job.
This situation will lead people to overlook the critical details that might allow them to notice a spoofing attack.
As one of the most ubiquitous parcel delivery services for international e-commerce purchases, it’s no surprise that DHL is a prime spoofing target for scammers. Whether it’s by a fake delivery update or by a fraudulent tracking number scam, the opportunities are numerous with shipping companies.
Another way hackers exploit this type of spoofing attack is by asking their victims to pay for nonexistent duty and import fees and pocketing the money.
Perhaps the most well-known online brand to many users, hackers target Google for spoofing attacks because of the many free services they offer to their clientele. From Gmail notifications to messages related to an Android device, there are many opportunities to get a victim to click on a bad link.
Since people stock their lives on Google Photos and Google Drive nowadays, a typical spoofing attack will involve a security breach notification to get people to give their passwords to the attackers.
There are no two ways about it?: For most people, Microsoft sits at the top of the average individual’s technology stack. Not only do they offer the popular email service Outlook, but most people’s computers run their famous Windows operating system.
This situation means users are highly likely to treat messages coming from the company with trust and not notice nefarious links or incorrect domain names.
The fifth on the list is another delivery service, which is on the list for similar reasons as DHL. FedEx regularly sends several emails to its customers to update them on their delivery status.
The issue is compounded by the fact that FedEx is often used in business settings. Workers amid a busy workday might not realize there are being phished and could surrender important company information.
Beating a Spoofing Attack
It’s important to remember that spoofing is nothing but a sophisticated version of a phishing attack. While the methods employed might make them more difficult to notice, the same checks apply and will allow you to beat them.
Be careful if you receive a new type of notification from any company, and quickly read one sentence in the email to see if the grammar and syntax are the same as you are used to. The same goes for the logos, colors, and design of the email you are receiving.
Since these attacks most often happen over email, you should also check the domain name of the company reaching out to you. Hackers often register fake domain names that some people might think are legit but can be quickly identified as fraudulent, such as linkedintechsupport.com.
Hackers Will Still Spoof Brands
The practice of spoofing will remain commonplace in the future and is likely to become even more sophisticated. Impersonating a brand checks too many boxes for a hacker. It allows them to quickly gain the trust of their victims, often even more than they could have done over a long period without pretending to be a brand.
These are companies that contact their users every day. They are used to having access to personal information to deliver services. Hackers will use that reality to perform phishing attacks as long as this is true.
Thankfully, the answer to phishing is simple to deploy and powerful. Phishing is beaten by cyber security awareness. Hackers fail every time if people know the signs of phishing attacks and take the time to identify them.
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