What is IP Spoofing? (Process and How to Prevent)

What is IP Spoofing?

IP spoofing, also known as "IP address spoofing", is the process of sending Internet Protocol (IP) packets with a fake source IP address in order to mimic another computer system. Cybercriminals can use IP spoofing to carry out harmful acts without being detected. It's possible that someone will steal your data, infect your device with malware, or crash your server.

IP spoofing is a hostile attack in which the threat actor conceals the real source of IP packets to make it harder to determine where they originated. To mimic a different computer system, hide the sender's identity, or both, the attacker produces packets with a new source IP address. The header field for the source IP address in the spoofed packet has an address that differs from the true source IP address.

IP packets are the principal means through which networked computers and other devices interact, and they form the foundation of the contemporary internet. A header, which comes before the body of the packet and provides critical routing information such as the source address, is present in all IP packets. The source IP address of a typical packet is the address of the packet's sender. The source address will be faked if the packet has been spoofed.

An attacker delivering a package to someone with the incorrect return address is akin to IP spoofing. Blocking all packages from the false address will do little good if the person receiving the package wishes to prohibit the sender from sending parcels because the return address can readily be changed. In a similar vein, if the recipient wishes to respond to the return address, their response package will be delivered to someone other than the true sender. A key weakness used by many DDoS attacks is the ability to fake packet addresses.

Spoofing is frequently used in DDoS attacks to overload a target with traffic while hiding the offending source's identity, impeding mitigation measures. Blocking fraudulent requests becomes challenging if the originating IP address is forged and randomized on a regular basis. IP spoofing also makes it difficult for law enforcement and cyber security experts to find the attack's culprit.

Spoofing may also be used to mimic another device, forcing answers to be sent to that device instead of the intended recipient. This vulnerability is exploited by volumetric attacks like NTP amplification and DNS amplification. The ability to change the source IP is built into TCP/IP, making it a persistent security risk.

What is the Process of IP Spoofing?

Packets are the smallest units of data transferred over the internet. IP headers in packets include routing information about the packet. This information includes both the source and destination IP addresses. Consider the packet as a parcel in the mail, with the source IP address serving as the return address.

In IP address spoofing, the attacker alters the source address in the outgoing packet header. As a result, the destination computer recognizes the packet as coming from a reliable source, such as a computer on a corporate network, and accepts it.

By fabricating and repeatedly randomizing the source address with a tool, attackers may create bogus packet headers. They might potentially exploit the IP address of an already-existing device to redirect answers to the falsified packet.

Attackers will require the following to do IP spoofing −

  • The receiving device would allow a trustworthy IP address to enter the network. Device IPs may be found in a variety of methods.

  • The ability to intercept a packet and replace the legitimate IP header with a fake one. To intercept packets on a network and obtain IP addresses to spoof, utilize a network sniffing tool or an Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) scan.

Because packets are typically sent by geographically scattered botnets—networks of hijacked computers—IP spoofing makes it difficult for law enforcement and cybersecurity teams to trace down the attacker. Each botnet might have tens of thousands of machines that can fake various source IP addresses. As a result, it's impossible to track down this automated assault.

How to Prevent IP Spoofing?

To prevent bogus packets from entering their networks, organizations can take the following steps &mins;

  • Unusual actions are being observed on networks.

  • It's a good idea to use packet filtering technologies that can detect anomalies, such as outgoing packets with source IP addresses that don't match those on the company's network.

  • Use severe verification methods for any remote access, including systems on the workplace intranet, to prevent accepting forged packets from an attacker who has already infiltrated another system on the company network.

  • The IP addresses of inbound IP packets are verified.

  • It's a good idea to use a network attack blocker.

Web designers advocate for the conversion of websites to IPv6. By adding encryption and authentication mechanisms, IPv6 makes IP spoofing more difficult than IPv4. However, IPv4 continues to be utilized by the vast bulk of internet traffic worldwide. Only around 5% of traffic has migrated to the newer, more secure protocol, according to IPv6 traffic data from the Seattle Internet Exchange.

Another option is to use network edge devices like firewalls with packet filtering turned on to detect anomalies and reject packets with forged addresses. Some essential factors are as follows −

  • Configuring the devices to reject packets from outside the business boundary with private IP addresses (ingress filtering).

  • Blocking traffic that originates within the company but uses an external IP address as the originating IP address (egress filtering). This prevents spoofing attacks against other external networks from being launched from within the company.

Finally, end-users have difficulty distinguishing between IP spoofing and legitimate traffic. They may, however, limit the risk of other types of spoofing by only accessing websites that use safe encryption technologies like HTTPS.

Updated on: 04-May-2022

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