Smartphone

Realtime impersonation: The rising dangers of phone spoofing

It is nothing but a sad reality that despite the rapid modernization, digital transformation, and technological advancements, the world is nowhere near controlling cybersecurity risks. Apart from hackers attacking every 39 seconds on average using a host of malicious techniques, they are now using phone spoofing to further trick users and hijack their sensitive information.

So what is phone spoofing?

Phone spoofing is an umbrella term used to encapsulates the different deceiving techniques used by hackers to trick users into providing their sensitive information. Phone spoofing methods include Vishing, Smishing, and other forms of phishing. Spoofing is simply deceiving a user by impersonating someone to gain unauthorized access to their private information or data. Ultimately, phone spoofing means deceiving users by impersonation using mobile phones and mobile-based applications. Let’s have a look at how phone spoofing techniques work.

Vishing (Voice impersonation)

As the title suggests, vishing is a voice-based impersonation technique in which hackers use spoofed caller IDs to trick users into handing over their private information like credit card details, login information, address, social security numbers, and so on. A spoofed called ID means that by using VOIP calling software hackers mask or impersonate someone else’s number. VoIP software allows users to mask their original number with any custom number, name, or pin. Therefore, a fraudster can call you from any custom number or can impersonate any important or authority figure.

Fraudsters use spoof their calling IDs and call unsuspecting people by using names as FBI, IRS, Banks, Companies, etc. to ask for their sensitive information. A fraudster can call as a bank employee and can purposely scare you that “Your account passwords need to be changed for security reasons” and can ask users for old passwords and vice versa.

Smishing (SMS impersonation)

Fraudsters can also spoof messages just like calls. Hackers organize mass SMS campaigns impersonating as a legit entity encouraging to click on a link or performing a certain action. These messages usually contain links that lead to malware download or ask users to reset their accounts passwords using the (fake) link provided in the SMS.

Phishing

Phishing is also an art of deception, it is more flexible, harder to detect, and is responsible for 65% of global cybercrimes. From fake emails asking users to perform certain actions and malware-infused internet ads to large scale fake eCommerce stores. Phishing is one of the most successful attack vector used by hackers worldwide.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Let’s not sugar coat it, there is no compact, tested, and proven way to stop phone spoofing and other types of phishing attacks as spoofing itself is not illegal and a lot of companies and businesses use it for legit purposes. Likewise, according to experts, there are no software or security solutions available that can detect whether a call is legit or spoofed. With that said, there is no need to fret. You can still take a series of steps to stay secure.

Call-back: A spoofed caller cannot trick you if you know the essential security precautions. A spoofed call will not go through if you hang up a suspicious call and try to call them again. In case you feel the caller to be suspicious, hang up the phone and try to call them again. Either your call will not get through or your call will be automatically forwarded to the legit number.

Be smart: You don’t have to click links or download anything if a seemingly legit SMS or an email tells you to do so. Your security highly depends on the choices you make and the actions you take. Always enquire regarding a matter by calling to the department or company by yourself. This will ensure you deal with legit people and not imposters. Plus it is always better to inspect and deal with a matter by going physically, especially if it is finance related.