Friday, April 5, 2013

How to Identify Spoofing Attacks and How You Can Deal With Them

Being a computer owner and Internet user, you may have already encountered the phrase "spoofing attack" or simply "spoofing." What exactly do these terms refer to? The terms were coined from the word "spoof" which was first introduced by British entertainer and comic actor Arthur Roberts in 1884, when he devised a game of the same name that involves cunning and dishonesty. In time the term would represent an insulting copy of an individual or a trick or a fraudulent scheme hatched on some unwitting victim. How the term came to be used today can be likened to the term "virus" that now refers to a malicious program or software that harms computers, thus the accompanying term "antivirus," which is the program that is used to deter or eliminate viruses from laptops and PCs.

Nowadays, the word "spoof" is now being used to describe malicious or deceptive intentions and it is most often linked to cybercriminal or fraudulent schemes.

When the term is used in the context of e-mail, spoofing is fabricating an e-mail message to make it appear that it came from one sender when in fact it came from another. This happens when you have an inactive e-mail box or account that you had not opened in a long time and then it suddenly sends out e-mails that you never had a hand in transmitting. You should be concerned by this because this indicates that spammers and hackers are targeting you to access their fake e-mails, messages that you usually ignore. By opening their false e-mail messages, these cybercriminals would like you to answer to their e-mails and in the process supply them with your personal and financial information, things that you otherwise would never give to other persons.

If you suspect that your e-mail accounts are being spoofed, there are ways for you to stop these attacks. First, you must ensure that you modify the password of your e-mail box or address on a periodic basis. There are applications like RoboForm and LastPass that can aid you when you do these modifications. Use a password that is robust and hard to decode; computer experts recommend that you create one that is an amalgam of numbers, symbols, lower case, and upper case letters. Your chosen should also have eight or more characters. You can write the new password down but make certain that it is always kept secured, especially if you plan to use the password in your line of work.

Second, use a good antivirus program to do periodic checks on your laptop or PC, ensuring that no viruses or malware had made their way into your computer's system. You can select an application such as the VIPRE antiviral software or you can seek out the help of your trusted computer retail outlet. However, you will only learn that your e-mail box or account has been tampered with or an e-mail spammer is using it to send out malicious e-mails when the suspicious messages begin to appear in your acquaintances' accounts. Checking your computer's system daily will stop outside attempts to turn it into a "spamming bot" or "zombie computer."

Third, some computer and Internet users don't realize that by opening a new e-mail account in e-mail service providers such as Gmail and Yahoo!, they are required to provide for optional e-mail accounts or addresses. You should ensure that by using these optional e-mail addresses, your new e-mail account should still be accessible. Spoofers often prefer to tamper into your new address or account, erase your account log-in and substitute their own log-in information so that they can use your new e-mail account or address as their own.

Fourth, regularly check on the security and identity questions that the e-mail service provider will pose to confirm on your identity. These can range from the name of your favourite pet to the place where you had made your wedding vows. This security feature is crucial if you use your e-mail address to do your Internet transactions or payments. They act as a protective measure, just like the antivirus software that you have installed in your PC or laptop. One good thing to remember here is to never use a similar question and reply for every address or account that you have. Do a monthly check of your e-mail addresses to ensure that the security and identity queries have been left intact.

Fifth, there would be occasions when your e-mail service provider will inquire you about your landline or cellphone number and provide you with a security code to confirm your personal identity. Your phone or cellphone number can also be tampered with just like your security or identity questions, so you must check on it to make certain that it remains the same.

By applying these safeguards, you are lessening the risk of your e-mail address or account being spoofed or hacked into by spammers and hackers; you are denying them the chance to take control of your addresses. Although they can't guarantee perfect security for your e-mail boxes or accounts, these measures will help you protect your Internet and e-mail accounts in the long-term.

There would be uncommon occasions when your e-mail accounts or addresses may be employed in a so-called "spam campaign." This occurs when your e-mail account or address has been designated in the "from" field of a suspected spam e-mail. When this happens, you should not be overly alarmed since your address or account is still intact; antimalware and antiviral programs will not even flag down this action as suspicious. You will learn to recognize this action when you begin to receive numerous "bounce-back" e-mail messages that inform you that your messages were not delivered. When this happens, you just need to wait for the spamming action to subside. If you use Microsoft Outlook for your e-mail, you can configure your address or account to store incoming e-mail messages in their very own e-mail folder. All the while, you should continue to protect your computer from other hacking or malware attacks by installing an effective antivirus software in it, or having it looked over in your trusted computer repair outlet.

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