Cyber security

Phone Spoofing: What is it and how to prevent it

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spoofing

Spoofing is another growing cyberattack where a scammer disguises itself as a trusted source to gain access to confidential information. Spoofing can take place via emails, phones, websites, texts, or even servers. 

The ultimate goal of spoofing is to steal money by accessing personal information and bypassing network access controls or spreading malware via emails with malicious links or attachments. 

What is Phone Spoofing? 

Phone spoofing is another growing phenomenon where scammers disguise their caller IDs for some malicious intent. Learn how to spot the warning signs that your phone number has been hacked by spammers and how to protect your device with a comprehensive mobile security application. 

Scammers are everyday trying new ways of getting people to answer these calls. Most smartphones can screen calls, displaying information about the caller. However, with technology innovation, scammers can easily falsify or spoof their ids. 

With phone spoofing, one can easily make their phone number look like calls coming from other trusted sources. As a result, it may look like the caller is local, however, he might be present outside the country. 

How does Phone Spoofing work? 

Most phone spoofing is done through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service or via IP phone that uses VoIP to transmit calls. VoIP users can select their preferred number and name (while setting up their account ) that has to be displayed on the caller id. 

Some providers also provide phone spoofing services that work in a very similar manner like a prepaid calling card. Customers only have to pay for the PIN code that they want to use while calling their provider enabling them to set their information, destination, and the number they want to showcase on the recipient’s caller id. 

Why is Phone Spoofing considered dangerous? 

Scammers utilize prepaid calling card spoofing to trick people into providing them with confidential information, money, or both. Scammers may pretend like they are calling from some trusted source like banks, charities, or contests offering a phony prize. These types of phishing attacks are very common and most of the time target older people as they are not much aware of the technology and threats. 

For example, one common scam is fake tech support. Here the caller claims to be from a reputed and recognizable company like Dell, claiming there is an issue with your computer/laptop and they need remote access to fix it. 

Moreover, there are also “SMishing Attacks” (phishing via text messages). Here you will receive a message that appears to come from a trusted company or person, encouraging you to click on a link. And if you click it, it can download malware on your device, it can steal your credentials for your online accounts, and make you sign up for premium services. 

Why do companies allow phone spoofing?

Phone spoofing is not illegal. As a result, there are numerous reasons why companies may allow so. Spoofing has been in practice for a long when businesses make calls from official numbers on multiple devices. However, today it is commonly used to mask personal information from customers and workers in the sharing economy. 

Phone spoofing is considered illegal only when it is done with malicious intent. Moreover, technologies like VoIP have made it even easier for robocallers to spoof their information and numbers for fraudulent purposes. 

Reasons for Phone Spoofing

Here are some of the valid reasons why phone spoofing is prevalent.

  • Healthcare: Spoofed numbers serve to promote privacy in the industry where client confidentiality is imperative.
  • Helplines: Phone spoofing enables vulnerable people to seek help immediately.
  • Law enforcement: Police and other secret agencies often utilize phone spoofing technologies to track or contact people smartly.
  • Journalists: Some sources may wish to communicate with journalists without disclosing their exact location or identity. 

How to prevent your number from being spoofed?  

Because spoofing services randomly generate numbers. This is why there is no foolproof way to prevent your number from being spoofed. However, you can take some steps to prevent your number from being used by scammers for some illegal activities. 

  • Never share your phone number and other personal information with anyone.
  • Ensure consent boxes allowing your information to be shared, stored, or sold are unchecked.
  • Always read terms and conditions carefully.
  • Avoid online prizes or sweepstakes.

What are the warning signs of Spoofed phones? 

Numerous warning signs indicate your phone is spoofed. A spoofed phone will give you the following telltale signs:

  • Incoming messages or calls responding to communications you never initiated or were part of.
  • Messages or calls from people asking who you are.
  • People you don’t know are calling or texting you to stop bothering them.
  • Calls coming from your number.

Steps to take if your phone is spoofed

If you suspect your caller id is spoofed or being misused, immediately take the following precautions to protect your privacy and prevent yourself from going into any legal trouble.

  • Record a voicemail message: This can make your callers alert that they may have been victims of phone spoofing and you are not the true source of scam calls.
  • Block all unknown calls: Either use an application or simply go to your phone’s settings and temporarily block all calls coming from unknown numbers that are not in your contact list. 
  • File a complaint: You can simply file a complaint on unlawful activities. 

Some additional tips for dealing with unwanted calls

  1. Avoid listing your phone number on social media profiles. Moreover, even after registering for the Do Not Call registry, be very careful while sharing your contact information. 
  2. You need not answer every call coming from an unrecognized number. You can always return the call later and see if it was a real person or company. 
  3. Read the privacy policy or terms and conditions very carefully every time you sign up for some new account or service to ensure they don’t store or share your information with third parties. 
  4. Always avoid contest prizes and sweepstakes online.
  5. Always stay updated with the latest scams so that you know how to protect yourself from threats. 

FAQ’s

What is spoofing and phishing?

When an attacker fakes an email's address, it is called email spoofing. This kind of spoofing is frequently used in phishing attacks and compromised business emails. In addition, email spoofing often aims to steal information, infect a user's device with malware, or make a money request.

Is spoofing a crime?

Anyone who transmits false or inaccurate caller ID information to defraud, harm, or improperly obtain anything of value is prohibited by FCC rules under the Truth in Caller ID Act. Spoofing in violation of the law can result in fines of up to $10,000.

What is spoofing attack?

The act of spoofing involves hiding a communication or identity so that it appears to be coming from a reliable, authorized source. From the typical email spoofing attacks used in phishing campaigns to the caller ID spoofing attacks frequently used in fraud, spoofing attacks come in various shapes and sizes.

How the spoofing attack can be prevented?

Since it can filter out and block packets with conflicting source address information, packet filtering can stop an IP spoofing attack. Your environment can gain additional security by utilizing cryptographic network protocols like HTTP Secure (HTTPS) and Secure Shell (SSH).

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