Home Internet What is IP Spoofing and How can you Protect yourself?

What is IP Spoofing and How can you Protect yourself?

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What is IP Spoofing and How Can You Protect Yourself
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IP spoofing occurs when hackers impersonate another user or device on a network so that they can spread malware, bypass access controls, and also steal data. Spammers and hackers use this technique to access financial and personal information. IP spoofing involves hackers creating an IP that has a fake source address as the headers.

This IP often has fake information, which hides the identity of the hacker, and can help him/her launch a cyber-attack. IP spoofing allows cyber-criminals to undertake fraudulent activities such as scamming or spamming undetected. Even if an attack gets discovered, it is quite difficult to trace its origin and the person behind it.

How Does IP Spoofing Work?

Whether it is within a network or over the Internet, data gets sent via the Internet Protocol. Typically, the data gets transmitted in the form of IP packets that have headers containing information about the data.

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During transmission, the source IP address will communicate with the recipient address to inform it about the origin of the data. This is what happens during IP spoofing, only that the source IP address will be fake.

Types of Attacks Launched Via IP Spoofing

Obviously, cyber-criminals use spoofing maliciously. The technique is used to attack computer systems, servers, application, and even individual users. Here are some common attacks that get launched through IP spoofing.

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  • Malware Distribution: IP spoofing can be used to spread computer viruses. An attacker will fool a computer into thinking that their files originate from the websites that you are visiting. This way, the attacker can easily replace whatever content you want with viruses and malware.
  • DOS Attacks: In this case, cyber-criminals send an overwhelming number of fake requests to a server or website with the intention of bringing it down. These requests are often made by computers that are infected with botnets, and whose owners don’t have an idea that they are part of a hacking ring.
  • Man-In-The-Middle Attack: This attack is prevalent in unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Whenever you are browsing an HTTP address that isn’t secure, hackers can easily use IP spoofing to pretend that they are both you and whatever online service or website you are communicating with. Therefore, both ends are fooled into accessing the communication. In this IP spoofing attack, the data that you send compromises your security however innocent it may be.

How To Protect Yourself From IP Spoofing

There are numerous methods that can be used to protect your computer from IP spoofing attacks. Most of these techniques are highly complex and can only be used by web administrators. The following are some of the simple measures that you can take to protect yourself against IP spoofing.

1. Use of VPNs

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) like Ivacy help you encrypt your traffic thus making it hard for hackers to monitor your traffic. This prevents them from spoofing your IP addresses and the destination’s IP addresses as well.

Besides this, VPN software can protect your computers from hacked or malicious sites that can expose you to data packets that have been spoofed by cyber-criminals. Click here to learn more about VPNs.

2. Authentication Through IPsec

You can also prevent IP spoofing attacks by using authentication on key exchanges between all computers on your network. IPsec, for instance, prevents spoofing attacks by encrypting network traffic.

This helps secure whatever data that is flowing over your network. Before any session gets encrypted, IPsec will demand mutual authentication so that all involved computers prove their identity. After that, the exchange will be permitted.

IPsec also works by ensuring that your IP packets do not get tampered with during transit. It does so by preventing packet modification besides protecting against replay attacks. Each IPsec packet has a sequence number, and whenever hackers attempt to replay an IPsec-encrypted packet, its sequence number won’t match with the current packet sequence. This way, IPsec will flag the packets as invalid.

3. Filtering Outward and Inward-Bound Traffic

Traffic filtering helps prevent IP spoofing. By having your border router configured to undertake packet filtering, you will seal potential loopholes that are exploited by spammers to commit IP spoofing. Egress filtering ensures that the headers of the packets that are leaving your network aren’t tampered with. This prevents your website from being used by hackers as a reflector or amplificator.

On the other hand, ingress filtering stops your computer from receiving packets that are seen to be coming from addresses whose headers are not properly stated. This helps prevent DOS attacks since your system will won’t be vulnerable to malicious requests.

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4. Choosing a Reliable ISP

Picking a reliable Internet Service Provider goes a long way in preventing IP spoofing attacks. To protect your computers, use an ISP that has great infrastructure. This will ensure that you always have a strong Internet connection. Typically, hackers target computers with slow connection since they are more vulnerable to IP spoofing.

It is equally advisable to choose an ISP that offers network ingress filtering. This will ensure that the path of data packets being sent to your computer is monitored so that unreliable ones are flagged. Checking whether your ISP offers this service can help you minimize chances of IP spoofing on your network.

5. HTTPS/TLS/SSH Encryption

You can also protect your computer against IP spoofing by using common cryptographic protocols including Transport Layer Security (TLS), HTTP Secure (HTTPS), and Secure Shell (SSH).

These protocols lower the risk of spoofing through the encryption of IP packets. This prevents the packets from getting modified by hackers. Besides this, the protocols may also necessitate the use of authentication upon the receipt of a data packet.

Conclusion

Hackers are increasingly using impersonation to steal crucial information and even access bank accounts. A user who doesn’t have in-depth knowledge about the workings of the Internet can easily fall prey to schemes such as IP spoofing. In as much as IP spoofing in itself isn’t an illegal activity, it is used to perpetrate criminal acts including identity theft. The tips above can help you avoid falling prey to such schemes.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article What is IP Spoofing and How can you Protect yourself? was written by Paschal Okafor. The article was last modified: November 26th, 2018