IP Address Spoofing: The Risks and How to Protect Yourself

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Every year, cyber-attacks increase in volume and frequency. Generally, cybercriminals launch attacks on businesses and individuals for their monetary gains. To combat cybercriminals, one must be well informed about the threats, then take cyber security measures accordingly. The cyber threat that we will analyze today is IP address spoofing, and we will break down its risks and the ways to protect yourself from it. But before that, we should briefly explain what it is and how it works. 

What Is IP Address Spoofing? How Does It Work? 

IP address spoofing is a technique that is used by cybercriminals to hide their identity online. In IP address spoofing, cyber criminals create Internet Protocol (IP) packets and alter the source IP address for imitating another computer system, hiding their identity, or doing both. To understand more about IP spoofing, first we should give some background information. 

Internet traffic is sent in pieces that are called packets. When you send data, it is broken into packets. Each packet travels individually and resembles the end. Every packet includes IP headers that have information about the source IP address, and destination IP address. In IP spoofing, cyber criminals modify the source IP address to deceive the destination computer as the packet comes from a trusted source, so the target computer accepts it. IP spoofing happens in the network layer, that’s why there aren’t external signals of tampering. For end-users, detecting IP spoofing is really hard. 

Also, the IP address spoofing technique is widely used for executing Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and Man-in-the-middle attacks. Using IP spoofing in MITM attacks is quite dangerous because cybercriminals can intercept the communication between two computers or the data before it reaches the server. When cybercriminals spoof an IP address and reach personal or organizational communication accounts, they can track everything. Also, they can direct others to fake websites and steal their confidential data. 

Meanwhile, using IP spoofing in DDoS attacks will disguise attackers’ identities and make the target’s mitigation efforts harder. 

The Risks of IP Spoofing

1- Data Breaches

IP spoofing techniques can be used to gain illegitimate access to individual or corporate devices, systems, and networks. Cybercriminals can spoof trusted IP addresses to bypass security systems and gain access to personal or organizational devices with the purpose of stealing confidential data. Also, using static IP for your organization or personal devices can present high-security risks because all access requests that come from static IP will be allowed to access. 

Simply, when cybercriminals obtain a static IP address of a business they can use it to gain access and steal confidential datasets. Considering IP spoofing risks, using dynamic IP addresses can be a better option. When we analyze static IP vs Dynamic IP regarding IP spoofing risks, dynamic IPs are safer because dynamic IP addresses regularly change, and make cyber criminals’ IP spoofing efforts harder. 

2- Downtime and Crash in Systems & Servers

As we mentioned earlier, IP address spoofing is widely used in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. In this type of attack, cybercriminals use spoofed IP addresses and botnets to send massive traffic with the purpose of overwhelming their target’s systems and servers. When systems can’t handle heavy traffic, they crash or face downtime. Also, IP spoofing in DDoS attacks disguises the attacker’s identity so mitigation efforts become harder and the targeted systems face longer periods of shutdown or downtime.  

How To Protect Yourself From IP Spoofing 

1- Use A Good VPN 

Using a good VPN client can help you protect yourself from IP spoofing. VPNs simply create secure tunnels between your device and the resources that you use. VPNs disguise your online identity by hiding your real IP address from third parties. Simply, VPNs establish the privacy and anonymity of your internet traffic. Under VPN protection, nobody can track your activities or peek at your communications. Also, reputable VPNs employ 256-bit advanced end-to-end encryption that secures all data transfers and make them illegible to anyone. This way, they prevent cybercriminals from intercepting your data or communication with other devices. 

2- Implement Firewalls 

Implementing firewalls to your network is the best way to combat IP spoofing. Firewalls include packet filtering that can protect your devices against IP spoofers. Packet filtering has two types, ingress and egress filtering. Ingress filtering analyzes all incoming packets and makes sure packets come from the source IP address they claim. When the source IP header doesn’t match the allowed source address, this packet will be rejected. Also, ingress filtering can reject all packets that have suspicious behavior. Meanwhile, egress filtering analyzes all outgoing traffic to see if the source IP address matches the IP addresses that are on corporate networks. Egress filtering can be really helpful to stop insiders before they execute an IP spoofing attack. 

3- Put Strong Authentication Methods

Merely counting on IP addresses to authenticate identities is dangerous. To protect yourself from IP spoofing, you need strong authentication methods and tools. You can implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) tools or Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) methods to authenticate users and devices. MFA tools rely on multiple steps of authentication meanwhile PKI method depends on private and public key pairs for authentication. Each device and user has its unique private and public key. Private key helps users and devices to encrypt communications and authenticate their identities while public key helps them decrypt their communications. 

4- Employ Network Monitoring Tools 

To combat IP spoofers, you need network monitoring tools. These tools can help you detect suspicious and malicious activities rapidly. They can’t prevent IP spoofing attacks but they can help you detect these attacks before they make further damage. That’s why they are necessary. 

Last Remarks 

IP address spoofing is a technique that is used by cybercriminals to launch DDoS, and MITM attacks on individuals and corporations. IP spoofing attacks can have serious consequences and cause data breaches and identity theft. To combat IP spoofers, it is critical to implement VPNs, Firewalls, advanced authentication, and network monitoring tools.

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