How to Stop Email Spoofing

Have you ever received an email that looked as if it was sent by someone you know but was actually sent by someone else? If so, you already know what it’s like to become a victim of email spoofing, and this article is here to explain how to stop email spoofing and keep your inbox organized using Clean Email so that you can easily spot all fake spoofed emails you receive.

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What Is Spoofing Email?

Email spoofing is a popular strategy used in spam and phishing emails. It involves the modification of an email header so that the email message appears to have been sent by someone else other than the actual sender.

For example, imagine that you’re a Gmail user and receive an email from the following address: support@google.com. Seeing a familiar email address, you open the email and find out that Google needs you to reset your password because someone has been trying to hack your account. Since you have no reason to question the validity of the claim, you click on the included password reset link and reset your password.

The only problem is that the original email wasn’t actually sent by Google. Instead, it was sent by a cybercriminal who used email spoofing to trick you into thinking that they are Google. With your Gmail password, they can now gain access to your online banking, social media, and possibly even other email accounts.

The reason why it’s so easy to spoof emails is quite simple: email wasn’t originally designed with security and privacy in mind. Instead, it was intended to be an open service run by academics for other academics. It wasn’t until the 1980s when email hosting services had started popping up and the word “email” entered the public lexicon.

Not long after that, email spam started to multiply exponentially, and email spoofing became a common strategy. Today, email fraud accounts for billions of dollars in losses annually, with 76% of businesses reporting becoming victims of a phishing attack in the last year.

How to Stop Email Spoofing?

To understand how to stop email spoofing, it’s important to understand that the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), a communication protocol for electronic mail transmission, doesn’t support any form of email authentication. In other words, some other mechanisms must be adopted to prevent email spoofing.

Manually Check Email Headers

Perhaps the simplest way how to identify email spoofing is to manually check email headers.

To read email headers in Gmail:

  1. Open the email you want to check the headers for.
  2. Click the Down arrow next to Reply.
  3. Click Show original.

How to stop email spoofing in Gmail

  1. Copy the text on the page.

You can optionally open the Message header tool and paste your header in "Paste email header here,” to easily identify individual header lines.

To read email headers in Outlook.com:

  1. Open the email you want to check the headers for.
  2. Click the points of Ellipsis (“...”) next to Reply all.
  3. Click View message source.

How to stop email spoofing in Outlook

Regardless of which email service you use, you always want to look for the “Return-Path,” which should be the same as the sender’s email address. It’s also worth to check the originating IP address and use an IP address lookup tool to find more information about it.

Use Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication mechanism that’s designed to specify which email servers can send emails on behalf of your domain. To implement SPF, domains and hosts need to identify the machines authorized to send email on their behalf by including additional records to their existing DNS information, which is a fairly complicated task that’s best left to experienced network administrators.

Recipients can then confirm that the sending IP address is allowed to send emails on behalf of the “envelope from” address of the mail. This confirmation happens before the body of the email is downloaded, making it possible to reject all emails from email spoofers way before they can do any harm.

In addition to SPF, there are several other effective countermeasures against email spoofing, including Sender ID, DKIM, and DMARC. Sender ID tries to improve on SPF by verifying email header fields that all contain sending party information, DKIM verifies if message content is authentic and not changed, and DMARC specifies how domains handle suspicious emails.

Keep Your Inbox Organized

Spoofing email addresses wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is if people kept their inboxes organized. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done because about 14.5 billion spam emails are sent every single day. When people receive dozens of emails from unknown addresses on a daily basis, they sooner or later stop paying attention to details, making email spoofing attempts much more likely to succeed.

Even if you don’t have much time to spare on email management, you can still keep your inbox neatly organized by using a smart email organizer like Clean Email, which makes email cleaning effortless by organizing your emails into easy-to-review bundles, automatically unsubscribing you from unwanted subscriptions, and allowing you to automate common email management tasks with a few simple clicks.

Clean Email works with all email providers that use the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) to retrieve email messages from a mail server, which includes Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Fastmail, AOL, and many others. Why make it easier for email spoofers to trick you when keeping your inbox organized can be so easy?

Conclusion

Email spoofing is a surprisingly effective strategy that many cybercriminals like to use when trying to obtain sensitive information by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The good news is that there are many things that you can do to prevent email spoofing, and it can be as easy as keeping your inbox organized using Clean Email, a bulk email management tool with clever automation features that empower you to take greater control of your inbox.

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