Email spoofing is especially damaging trickery. Your business can become a victim without your knowledge, and the scammers don’t need much technical skill to carry it out.
Even if your business is not a direct target of a spoofing scam, if your brand or company name is used in spoofing, it can wreck your reputation. Be aware and take proper precautions. You can help prevent the major headache of spoofing attackers using your business name.
What Is Email Spoofing?
Email spoofing is when a scam artist sends an email purporting to be from a legitimate business. Scammers use the business name to obtain and profit from sensitive information.
You have probably received “spoofed” emails. These are the ones that pretend to be from, for example, Elon Musk, Apple, Amazon, or some other well-known company or individual. Most people are immediately suspicious of these emails due to mistranslations, bad grammar, or outlandish requests (like Elon Musk asking you for a loan).
A spoofer could also use your business email to attempt to get money or information from unsuspecting individuals. Suppose you have an insurance agency. A spoofer could theoretically write an email pretending to be your agency and asking for a premium payment to be made online (to them, not you).
You may be in no way involved. But you would be a victim because such a scam could paint your business negatively.
Customer data management is essential for successful email marketing. And part of managing customer data is ensuring that it isn’t used for nefarious purposes.
Examples of Email Spoofing
People frequently spoof emails by playing on the fact that people scan their inboxes quickly (and not always carefully). To evade detection, they may
- Change the top-level domain slightly (yourcompany.co instead of yourcompany.com)
- Remove one character from a domain name (youcompany.com instead of yourcompany.com)
- Change a single character in the domain name (Amazom.com, for example)
- Add a letter to a domain name (yourrcompany.com instead of yourcompany.com)
Email spoofing can also be used against people in your company. If you receive an email from your CEO, you’ll probably be anxious to help out. But what if the email was from someone pretending to be your CEO?
You could potentially give sensitive information to a stranger thinking you were helping out your CEO. Think of the problems it could cause!
How It Affects Your Reputation
If someone starts spoofing your company email, you need to know about it immediately. Otherwise, your brand and company name could be tied to a scam, even though you weren’t involved.
You could end up trying to fix a public relations nightmare while simultaneously trying to shore up your email security. It could cost you customers. One way or another, you do not want to be associated with spoofing.
Protocols to Prevent Email Spoofing
Fortunately, you can take several steps to prevent your business from being used in email spoofing. Four main protocols exist for companies like yours to use so your marketing emails don’t open the door to spoofing.
They are SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and BIMI. Others exist, but these are the most prominent ones right now.
Ideally, a business should use all four of these protocols. BIMI is relatively new; however, so many businesses only use SPF, DKIM, and BIMI. Your email platform or service provider should be clear about which protocols they use.
Sender Policy Framework (SPF) identifies legitimate sending domains. It also dictates what email platforms do with messages that don’t originate from your legitimate domain.
SPF indicates that you are authorized to send emails from your company domain.
DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a digital “signature” confirming that the email really is from your company. DKIM allows the recipient to check and see that the email was, in fact, sent and authorized by your organization.
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) is a protocol for authenticating and reporting email. Building upon SPF and DKIM, DMARC adds linkage to the sending domain name and publishes policies for how recipients are to handle authentication failures.
Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is a new email specification. It enables the use of brand-controlled logos in email clients that support it.
For a brand’s logo to appear, the email must pass DMARC authentication. This helps ensure that no one is impersonating the organization’s domain.
Avoid Becoming a Victim
Naturally, you don’t want your company name associated with email spoofing. You don’t want to be a spoofing victim, either.
The key is training your employees on how to spot suspicious emails. Everyone, from the CEO to the summer intern, should know what to do if they receive an email that raises suspicion.
Your company password policy should be clear, and every employee should follow it. Teach people to beware of attachments and links. They should not open attachments or click links unless they know the sender is legitimate.
Train everyone to avoid mixing business and personal email accounts. They should only use company email on approved devices and avoid using it with public WiFi.
Your email marketing team should know which anti-spoofing protocols your email platform uses. If your platform provider does not provide the proper protocols, it is time to switch providers. There is no excuse for sloppy security when it comes to email marketing.
FAQs About Marketing Email Spoofing
If you’re using Gmail, you’ll see three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner of the message. Click on this and choose “Show Original.” You should then see the pass or fail status of SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to indicate whether it is legitimately from your organization. Your safest bet, however, is to initiate a new email to your boss asking if she emailed you about a password.
Contact your client immediately and tell him not to click on any links or respond in any way to the email. Reiterate how you do invoicing. Consider sending an email out to all your clients telling them not to respond to similar emails and to only use the invoicing system they normally use.
Yes. Contact your partner agency and explain what happened. They may have become a spoofing victim, and the sooner they know about it, the sooner they can address the situation. In the meantime, do not open any attachments to the email or click on any links in it.
Keep Email Marketing Safe
Email marketing must remain secure. It is a proven marketing channel with good ROI and excellent targeting.
Getting caught up — even indirectly — in an email spoofing scam can cause short- and long-term reputation damage. Learning which email security protocols exist and how to use them can reduce the risks of this happening. Training employees can prevent your company from becoming a victim of it.
Email marketing, while dependable and effective, can be misused by scam artists. But don’t let that frighten you away from using it.
Email marketing is a great tool for promoting your business, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers of email scams like spoofing.
By implementing security protocols like SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and BIMI, you can protect your business from these threats and maintain a good reputation. Don’t let concerns about security stop you from using email marketing.
If you need help ensuring secure email marketing for your business, our team of experts can assist you. Arrange a call with our team today to learn more about how we can help with all your digital marketing needs.