- September 28, 2023
- Catagory online commerce
If your website plays a key role in your business success, then spoofing is an existential threat.
If your website has been spoofed, it means a threat actor has imitated your website or domain name to prey on its audience – your customers – to collect information and even trick them into giving them money that might have gone to you.
Website spoofing is not unlike phishing. Instead of pretending to be a legitimate email from a trusted sender, it pretends to be a legitimate online presence – yours. The key difference is that website spoofing occurs at a much larger scale than phishing, and the impact can be larger by affecting many individuals as well having a significant impact on your business and reputation.
Spoofing doesn’t just mean bad actors have set up a clone of your website; they are also targeting and directing people to it, tricking them into thinking they are engaging with companies and brands they are familiar with and trust. Visitors ultimately miss an important clue that would reveal the deception – the web address. The URL may be close to yours, but visitors have already been lured and don’t give it a second glance to notice the subtle differences to alert them it’s not the real deal.
Like phishing, website spoofing is all about impersonating a business, brand or individual, and it is incumbent upon you to make sure your customers, vendors or partners don’t fall for the deception. For them, the first hint that something might be amiss is an offer that’s too good to be true, such as a massive discount on a product or service. These spectacular – and fake – offers usually have an urgent deadline to incentivize the victim so they act immediately.
You need to be on alert for website spoofing – it’s an excellent example where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially if you’re a small or medium-sized business. Website spoofing doesn’t just affect enterprise organizations.
It does put more onus on the individual visitors, however, but you as a business can help to play a role in educating your customers, partners, and vendors, just as you do internal security training to thwart phishing via email – you can alert them to a spoofing threat through email and social media channels.
The first step is to use a reputable registrar for your domain. If you do not host your business website yourself, be sure to select a provider that can demonstrate they understand the threat of website spoofing and are proactively protecting their customers.
No matter who is responsible for your website hosting, preventing website spoofing requires regularly reviewing your logs for unusual traffic, including suspicious referrers or URL modifiers, as well monitoring your domain and DNS settings. You should also implement a Web Application Firewall (WAF) on your web server in concert with domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) for emails.
Your online presence is an extension of your business. Falling victim to website spoofing can cost you money, customers, and your reputation. Protecting yourself should be a key component of any cybersecurity strategy – a managed service provider with robust security expertise can help evaluate if your domain is adequately protected from spoofers and help you implement the necessary protections.