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Email Spoofing: Awareness and Prevention

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How to avoid email spoofing in your organisation.

With South Africa’s growing embrace of digital communication, it’s essential for businesses and citizens alike to be aware of the dangers of email spoofing. Email spoofing is a deceptive technique where criminals modify the email so the receiver sees a legitimate email address, even though it’s being sent from the criminal’s email account. (In contrast, an impersonation attack involves slightly varying the email address so that without close attention it appears to be from a known sender.) In this post, we’ll demonstrate how to avoid email spoofing in your organisation, while simultaneously making your overall cybersecurity more robust.

What are the Goals of Email Spoofers?

  1. Malware Insertion: By appearing as a trusted source, spoofers can trick individuals into downloading malware.
  2. Identity Theft: Gaining access to personal information to impersonate individuals.
  3. Access to Personal/Business Assets: Using deception to gain unauthorised access to assets.
  4. Spam Filter Avoidance: Bypassing spam filters to deliver fraudulent messages.
  5. Reputational Damage: Harm the reputation of the spoofed party.
  6. Financial Losses: Deceiving individuals or businesses into transferring funds.

Trends in South Africa

Mimecast’s 2022 The State of Email Security report revealed a startling statistic: 94% of South African businesses fell prey to phishing attacks in the previous year. The report also found an increased awareness towards email security, with 98% of South African companies either utilising or considering the use of a brand protection service within the year.

Additionally, a robust 89% of these businesses have adopted or are planning to adopt DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) as a measure to secure their email domains and their brand from impersonation.

Mimecast’s 2023 The State of Email Security report revealed that 91% of companies are getting spoofed and 44% are seeing an increase in this type of fraud. One of their top 10 takeaways is that Spoofing’s a problem and DMARC’s the answer. More on that below!

Effective Strategies to Prevent Email Spoofing:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

SPF is a validation system that prevents email spoofing by verifying the sender’s IP address. By configuring SPF records, domain owners can specify which mail servers are permitted to send emails on their behalf, thereby preventing unauthorised use of their domain.

  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

DKIM adds a digital signature to the header of email messages, allowing the recipient to check if the email was indeed sent and authorised by the owner of that domain, effectively mitigating email spoofing.

  • Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC)

DMARC builds on SPF and DKIM by allowing domain owners to define a policy on how messages that fail SPF or DKIM checks should be handled. DMARC uses SPF and DKIM as part of its strategy, and it provides a way for recipients to report back to the sender about messages that pass and/or fail these authentication checks. This feedback is crucial for domain owners in identifying and fixing legitimate emails that are failing authentication, as well as cracking down on spoofing.

By employing these strategies, South African businesses can significantly reduce the risk of email spoofing, protecting assets and reputation.

How to Prevent Email Spoofing with DMARC

DMARC is an essential tool for email spoofing protection. It empowers domain owners with the ability to protect their domain from being used in the perpetration of email-focused cybercrimes such as Phishing, Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud, and the insertion of Malware and Ransomware. This is especially critical for businesses that need to ensure the integrity of their communications.

How DMARC Works

DMARC requires both SPF and DKIM to fail before it acts. Based on the policy defined by the domain owner, DMARC can either monitor all emails, send any that fail the SPF and DKIM checks to the spam folder, or reject them entirely.

How DMARC Prevents Email Spoofing

DMARC’s robust combination of SPF and DKIM establishes a line of defence against email spoofing. By authenticating the sender’s identity and enabling domain owners to define how unauthenticated emails should be handled, DMARC significantly reduces the success of email spoofing attacks.

How to Implement DMARC

Implementing DMARC involves adding DMARC records to your domain’s DNS settings. These records indicate the policy for handling emails that fail SPF and DKIM checks. If you need assistance with setting up DMARC, can help!

How DMARC Helps Your Business with More Than Just Email Spoofing

DMARC provides a plethora of benefits that go beyond email spoofing protection.

  • Protection Against Phishing, Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud, Malware, and Ransomware: By validating senders, DMARC protects your domain from being exploited for numerous forms of cyber-attacks.
  • Improved Email Deliverability: DMARC enhances the likelihood that your legitimate emails will be delivered to recipients’ inboxes rather than spam folders. This can be particularly important for time-sensitive communications, legally obligatory communications or marketing emails.
  • Compliance with Regulations: DMARC helps you adhere to company policies as well as industry and statutory regulatory requirements, which is essential in today’s data-conscious world.
  • Protects Finances, Reputation, Staff, Customers, and Suppliers: By securing email communication, DMARC safeguards not just financial assets but also the reputation of your brand, and the trust of your staff, customers, and suppliers.

In Conclusion

Email spoofing online is a particularly dangerous tool used by bad actors in the carrying out of email-based crimes because it’s so easy for them to do and is so effective in its outcomes. It represents a menacing cyber threat that can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and compromised sensitive data – and South African companies should be proactive in employing strategies to fight them.

Through SPF, DKIM, and most importantly, DMARC, organisations can fortify their communication channels against deceptive practices. And DMARC is more than an anti-spoofing tool – it’s a versatile shield guarding your domain against cyber threats, boosting email deliverability, and aiding regulatory compliance.

Your Next Step with

To effectively protect yourself and your business, it’s time to take action. is your ally in implementing and managing DMARC. With our expertise and guidance, you can ensure your communication channels and sensitive business data are secure. Book A Free Meeting to understand and take control of your email security with DMARC and fortify your cyber defences!

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