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Sniffing and Spoofing: A Comprehensive Differentiation

Sniffing and Spoofing: A Comprehensive Differentiation

Let us dive into the contents of this comprehensive blog on the comparison between the two cyber-attacks—sniffing and spoofing.

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What is Sniffing?

Sniffing is the technique of continuously monitoring and recording all data packets that transit via a network. Network or system administrators employ sniffers to monitor and troubleshoot network traffic. Hackers use sniffers to capture data packets containing sensitive data such as passwords and account information. Attackers install sniffers as hardware or software in the system.

Types of Sniffing Attacks

Let us discuss the different types of Sniffing attacks.

Active Sniffing

Active Sniffing is sniffing in the switch. It is a network device that connects two points. This switch monitors the MAC addresses on each port, which ensures that data is passed only to the appropriate destination. To sniff the traffic between targets, sniffers must actively inject traffic into the LAN. There are several ways to accomplish this.

Passive Sniffing

The process of Sniffing through the hub is called passive Sniffing. All machines on an un-bridged or non-switched network segment will be able to see any traffic passing through it. They operate on the data link layer of the network. A hacker transmits a network packet across the LAN, where it reaches every machine connected to it. Attackers can passively capture data by sending sniffers.

Active Sniffing involves infesting the switch content address memory (CAM) table with address resolution protocols (ARPs). Consequently, the attacker sniffs data from the switch by redirecting legitimate traffic to other ports. There are several active Sniffing techniques, including Spoofing, DHCP, and DNS poisoning.

Since we have understood Sniffing in detail, let us have a look at Spoofing.

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What is Spoofing?

Using a spoof to represent a communication coming from a known and trusted source is Spoofing. It can be as simple as email Spoofing, phone Spoofing, website Spoofing, or more technical such as a computer Spoofing an IP address, ARP, or DNS server.

The purpose of a Spoofing attack is to gain access to sensitive data or information by posing as a trustworthy source. Spamming can be done through websites, emails, phone calls, texts, IP addresses, and servers.

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Different Types of Spoofing Attacks

The different types of Spoofing attacks are listed here –

Caller ID Spoofing

Spoofing takes place when the caller ID is changed by using false information. To hide their identity, phone scammers use Caller ID Spoofing to make it impossible to block a number. In some cases, scammers will use your area code to disguise the call as being local.

Scammers often use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to spoof caller ID by creating fake phone numbers and names. Scammers will attempt to get vital information from the call recipient, once they answer the phone.

Email Spoofing

Scammers use fake sender addresses to harm your computer, steal your information, or infect your computer with malware through email Spoofing. Such emails look like they came from a friend or co-worker. This is so that you can be fooled into thinking that the emails are legit.

Using alternative numbers or letters to look slightly different from the original will get you this result, or disguising the “from” field to become an address that belongs to someone in your contact list.

Website Spoofing

Scammers use legitimate fonts, colors, and logos to make a dangerous website appear to be a secure one. Scammers replicate a trusted website so that users visit a phishing or malicious site. Most of these copied sites look authentic at first glance due to the similar website addresses. Nevertheless, their primary purpose is to gather visitor information.

DNS Server Spoofing

DNS Spoofing, also known as cache poisoning, is the process of rerouting traffic to a different IP address. Malicious websites will be redirected to this page. Scammers do this by replacing the DNS server’s IP addresses with their own.

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GPS Spoofing

A GPS Spoofing attack occurs when fake signals resemble real signals and are broadcast to fool GPS receivers. Essentially, scammers pretend to be in one place, while, in reality, being in another place.

Scammers use this type of attack to interfere with GPS signals of ships, buildings, or aircrafts such as to drive them to wrong addresses. Apps that rely on the location data from a smartphone are potentially vulnerable to this type of attack.

ARP Spoofing

ARP Spoofing is to manipulate and steal data as well as hijack sessions. As a result, spammers will connect their media access control to the IP address to access the data belonging to the owner of that address.

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack

MitM attacks occur when scammers hack a Wi-Fi network or create an identical counterfeit network to intercept web traffic between two parties. This allows scammers to reroute credit card numbers or login information to themselves.

Text Message Spoofing

The practice of Spoofing texts occurs when scammers use another person’s phone number to send a text message. Scammers use alpha-numeric sender IDs to mask their identity, and they normally link to phishing or malware downloads. Make sure that you are familiar with mobile security tips, if you fear your data is being compromised.

Extension Spoofing

Extension Spoofing is used by scammers to mask malware extension folders. These hacker files are often renamed as filename.txt.exe, and have malware hidden inside. The malicious program that runs when a file appears to be a text document is a text document.

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Now, let us understand the difference between Sniffing and Spoofing.

Difference Between Sniffing and Spoofing

Sniffing takes place when an attacker collects data packets that pass over a network by utilizing packet sniffers and data traffic in the network.

In contrast to Sniffing, Spoofing happens when an attacker steals a user’s rights and uses them to acquire legitimate user access to a system to execute attacks against network hosts, steal data, distribute malware, or evade access controls.

Spoofing is when an attacker creates TCP/IP using another person’s IP address. A sniffer software is placed between two interactive endpoints in packet Sniffing, where the attacker pretends to be one end of the connection to the target and snoops on data sent between the two points.

Comparing IP Sniffing and IP Spoofing

To understand what is IP Sniffing and IP Spoofing, it is first necessary to understand what these terms mean. The attacker manipulates authorized readers to acquire valuable information by falsifying them, so as to scan legal tags. Attackers who spoof a system appear to be authorized and official operators.

Spoofing attacks are duplicating factors because the system’s authorized users perform the same action. As opposed to counterfeiting or Sniffing, Spoofing methods are distinct from these other types of attacks. First, let us define packet Sniffing and packet Spoofing before learning their differences:

The technique of gathering, collecting, and logging some or all packets transiting across a computer network is known as packet Sniffing. Every packet, or a determined selection of packets, can be gathered in this manner for subsequent analysis. As a network administrator, you may utilize the acquired data for several tasks including bandwidth and traffic monitoring.

Hackers use the IP Spoofing technique to disguise their locations when they send or request data online. By impersonating an IP address, a computer can be misled into believing that information being sent to it is from an officially authorized source, and malicious content can be sent through.

A packet sniffer is a software or method for capturing network packets without changing them in any manner.

In simple terms, packet Sniffing is listening in on other people’s communications. Packet Spoofing is the dynamic presentation of fake network traffic that impersonates someone else.

Packet Sniffing is a passive attack since attackers cannot mutilate the system in any way. In packet Spoofing, stackers inject malicious software into the victim’s system.

Attackers get access to the device or system that directs traffic in the packet and carry out packet Spoofing attacks by sending packets with false source addresses, i.e., changing routing tables.

Encryption is a common technique that is used to fight against Sniffing, while digital signatures are the most effective means to combat Spoofing.

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Protection Against Sniffing and Spoofing

The development of technology brings more and more new cyber threats, so staying informed about the protection measures is imperative to be able to combat and defend against illegal hackers. We have listed a few points that you can follow to keep your devices safe from hackers.

Protection against sniffing

  • Set up a strong antivirus on your device
  • Secure your data with a VPN
  • Avoid visiting unencrypted websites
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi
  • Do not use unencrypted messaging apps

Protection against spoofing

  • Implement packet filtering with deep packet inspection
  • Verify the authenticity of users and systems
  • Use Spoofing detection software
  • Implement encrypted and authenticated protocols

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It is high time you start protecting your devices and save yourselves from malicious attacks. If you think cyber security could be a career for you, then enroll for the Cyber Security course from our Intellipaat website.

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About the Author

Technical Lead - AWS Solutions Architect

Shivanshu is a Technical Lead and AWS Solutions Architect passionate about utilizing Cloud technology to empower businesses. Proficient in AWS, Terraform, and GCP, he crafts innovative solutions to propel companies forward. As an enthusiastic writer, he shares his expertise to inspire others in this field.