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Blog What is IP spoofing and how to prevent it

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Cybercriminals rely on various techniques to avoid detection after committing a crime. One such approach is Internet Protocol address spoofing or IP spoofing.This article is a good starting point if you want to learn about IP spoofing and prevent it.

In the article, we will cover the topics below:

  • What is IP spoofing?
  • How does IP spoofing work?
  • Why is IP address spoofing dangerous?
  • What types of IP spoofing attacks are there?

What is IP spoofing?

So what exactly is IP spoofing? We have already mentioned that it is a technique used by cybercriminals to avoid detection. IP spoofing allows cybercriminals to use the IP address of another computer system to infect your computer or device.

This way, hackers can:

Take down or flood the victim's website, server, and network. Steal victims' data and use it for online fraud or identity theft.

By using the IP addresses of different computers, attackers become a legitimate and trusted source for most device owners, making their task of stealing sensitive data easier.

IP spoofing enables cybercriminals to hide their true identities by:

  1. Bypass firewall and other security software. Since the source IP address will appear as trusted, cybercriminals can bypass the firewall without being blocklisted.
  2. Bypass computer system alerts. Because computers and networks won't know they've been compromised, they won't sound the alarm.
  3. Bypass the police. Since the real identities of cybercriminals are hidden and anonymous through spoofed IP addresses, it is more difficult for police to identify them.

How does IP spoofing work?

But how exactly does IP spoofing work? To answer this question, you must first understand how IP addresses work and how data travels over the Internet.

You may be familiar with IP addresses. Every Internet device has its IP address to identify it to other devices connected to the same network.

When data travels over the Internet, it travels in the form of IP packets. Each IP packet contains a header and data. The length of each packet header is between 20 and 24 bytes.

The packet header contains information about the source IP address and destination and other information the packet needs to find the best route to its destination IP address. Additionally, the data section contains the actual content of the packet, such as a web page, email, or file.

Cybercriminals intercept such IP packets, change their packet headers with spoofed IP addresses and send them to their destination. This way, cybercriminals can impersonate another computer system.

What are the types of spoofed IP addresses?

IP spoofing attacks come in many forms, but the following three are the most common and dangerous:

DDoS attack

A common IP spoofing tactic used by cybercriminals is to launch DDoS attacks or distributed denial of service attacks. These attacks flood computer networks with IP packets and cause servers to crash or slow down.

Man-in-the-middle attack

Another IP spoofing tactic cybercriminals use is modifying IP packets to perform man-in-the-middle attacks. In this case, the IP packets between the two computers have been modified before reaching the recipient. Also, neither the original sender nor the recipient knows that the source IP address has changed.

Block botnets

IP spoofing can be used to mask groups of connected computers known as "botnets" to gain access to victim computers. This way, cybercriminals can flood computers, websites and servers with data, send malware and spam, and eventually crash them.

How to prevent IP address spoofing?

As you know, IP spoofing is very dangerous because it is tough to detect. Here are some ways to protect your data, computer and network from IP spoofing. Methods as below:

  1. Do not browse unsecured public WiFi networks. If you must use a public WiFi hotspot, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect your incoming and outgoing data.

  2. Make sure to update the default username and password for your home network that you received from your Internet service provider. Because most routers have a default username and password that is relatively easy to discover, this leaves your home network vulnerable.

  3. Browse the web safely. For example, avoid unencrypted "HTTP" traffic whenever possible. Instead, visit URLs with "HTTPS" and a green padlock.

  4. Ignore emails or other messages telling you to "update" your login credentials or other data. These are phishing emails designed by scammers to trick you into revealing your data. Here's how to prevent email-based phishing attacks.

  5. Use firewalls to filter and validate traffic with spoofed IP addresses, block malicious attackers and validate their source IP addresses.

  6. Use a packet filtering system such as ingress filtering. It allows you to verify that IP packets come from a trusted and legitimate source, not from a spoofed IP address. Ingress filtering ensures incoming packets are actually from the networks they claim to originate. Egress filtering is the practice of monitoring and potentially restricting the flow of information outbound from one network to another.

  7. Monitor your network for any suspicious activity regularly.

Can IP spoofing be done lawfully?

Yes, IP address spoofing does have legitimate uses, not just spoofing attacks.

For example, a company can spoof IP addresses to test their new website and ensure it works when it goes live. By doing this, companies can test the website to see that it doesn't get overwhelmed.

Conclusion

As you probably already know, IP spoofing can be very dangerous.
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