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Understanding Web Spoofing & A Few Tips To Stay Safe Online

An Internet security attack could cause danger to the privacy of World Wide Web users and this in turn endangers the integrity of their data too. Such an attack can be executed on the modern computer systems of today, affecting the user of the most commonly used web browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

Web Spoofing is an internet security attack that allows an adversary to study and change all web pages that are sent to the victim’s computer and look at all info entered by the victim into forms. The hacker can also modify all form submissions and web pages, even when the ‘secure connection’ indicator on the browser is enabled. The user does not get any warning or indication that something is wrong.

In simple words, website spoofing is the act of forming a website as a hoax for the purpose of misguiding readers that it has been created by a different organization or person. Usually the spoof website will take on the design aspects of the target website and could even have a similar URL. The hackers may also make use of a technique called cloaked URL by inserting control characters or domain forwarding. As a result of this, the URL will appear to be authentic while hiding masking the actual website address.

In such cases, the main objective is fraudulent, often related to email spoofing, phishing, to criticize the person or organization whose spoofed site claims to represent. Since the purpose here is mostly malevolent,, spoof is a poor word for such an activity so that the accountable organization like banks and government departments tend to pass it up, desiring more open descriptors like phishing or fraudulent.

Implementation of a Spoof Attack

A spoof attack is implemented by using Web server plug-ins and JavaScript. It works in two parts- first the hacker initiates the creation of a browser window on the victim’s computer with some of the menu and normal status information substituted by identical-looking components contributed by the hacker. Following this, the hacker sees to it that all Web pages intended for the victim’s computer to be directed via the hacker’s server.

The pages are rewritten on the hacker’s server in such a way that their appearance stays the same, but any actions initiated by the victim (like clicking on a link) would be logged by the hacker. Moreover, if the victim makes any attempt to load a new page, the newly loaded page would be directed via the hacker’s server and hence the attack would also continue on the new page.

The hack is started when the victim receives a malevolent email message (i.e. if the victim is using an HTML-enabled reader) or visits a malevolent Web page.

Solutions and Preventive Measures

Though website spoofing is an almost undetectable and dangerous security attack, there are few protective measures that can be taken.

As a short term solution, the best defense would be to follow a 3-part strategy:

  • Disable JavaScript in the browser so the hacker will not be able to conceal the proof of the hack.
  • Ensure that the location line of your browser is always visible.
  • Focus on the URLs displayed on the location line of your browser ensuring that they always indicate the server you think you’re connected to.

Such a strategy will considerably bring down the risk of hack; however you still could be victimized if you are not careful about observing the location line.

In the long run, there isn’t any fully acceptable solution to this problem. Though changing browsers that show the location line always would help to some extent, users should still be alert and be aware of how to identify rewritten URLs. For pages rendered through a secure connection, an enhanced secure connection indicator could be of great help.

Conclusion

With the increasing number of web attackers, all approaches to the web spoofing problems seem to depend upon the vigilance of the individuals. Not many movements have been taken to address this critical issue. We can conclude this discussion stating that there are no secure ecommerce sites on the web unless the web spoofing susceptibility has been completely taken care of.

Nelson is a technology enthusiast who is hooked on to the Internet literally 24×7, either playing cool games like Angry Birds online, or writing technology articles. He also happens to be Web Hosting Guide on About.com, and often blogs about cloud email server.

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