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What is URL Spoofing? 2021 Explanation | NordVPN
What is URL spoofing? A spoofed URL is a fraudulent link that is masked to look like a legitimate source in order to steal your data. Sometimes, just clicking on a spoofed URL is enough to infect your device with malware. Other times, the website will be designed to look identical to one you way you won’t question it when asked to enter sensitive information such as your email, password or your home address. However, your data will be sent directly to the hacker instead, who can then use it to steal your money or identity. Spoofed websites wouldn’t work without any traffic. That’s why they are usually distributed via phishing attacks. A link to the spoofed website is embedded in an email or a text message and then sent to thousands of people. The scams use bait to get you hooked, like an irresistible discount. All you have to do is click on the link. Examples of the most common spoofing attacksHackers have found many ways to create spoofed URLs and use them in malicious attacks. Let’s have a look at the 4 most common types of URL spoofing:Links behind buttons or wordsThe oldest trick in the hacker’s book is to send a phishing email pretending to be a trusted source and hyperlinking malicious link to buttons or words. Lazy hackers still do it these days. Thankfully it’s quite easy to spot it. Simply hover over hyperlinked words or right click on it to see the might receive an email from your favorite airline offering you cheap flights. All you need to do is click on the green button saying ‘Book Now. ’ However, once you click on it, it will take you to a malicious website which will almost instantly install Trojan or another virus onto your device. Misspelled linksPeople tend to skim read messages, which means that hackers can send phishing emails with links designed to look just like trusted ones. It’s enough for hackers to change only one character to register a new domain! Imagine receiving an email from Netflix, for example, asking you to confirm your payment details. When you hover over the link, you see a URL very similar to, but it’s actually ‘’ or ‘’ (only hypothetical examples). If you just skim your message, you will most likely miss that little difference and click on the link. URL shortenersAnother common way to spoof URLs is by using URL shorteners like and the likes. Some social media platforms limit characters per post (or for text messaging), so short links are a great solution. However, they also make it easier for scammers to hide malicious links. It’s almost impossible to tell where this shortened URL is going to take you until you click on it. Links with non-Latin charactersThe use of new scripts to register domains has created even more opportunities for hackers to steal your information. Now they can use non-latin characters to create homographic URLs. This means that spoofed URLs can now use letters with accents, glyphs, diacritics, and more. For example, could become ņ letters might look just like their Latin counterparts despite coming from a different alphabet. The internet will recognize them as entirely different characters and will allow hackers to register a new domain. These URLs are especially challenging to detect. How to recognize a spoofed linkBefore you click on any links, hover over them with your mouse to see the for spelling mistakes as well as accents, glyphs or the URL seems correct, but the deal sounds too good to be true, it might still be a phishing attack. Enter the official company’s URL into your address bar and check if they are really offering that fantastic deal. If you want to be super cautious, drop them a direct email or call them. Never reply to the email you received! If you clicked on a seemingly legitimate link and the website looks just like the trusted source, you should still check whether it’s an HTTPS website. If not – leave precautionary steps – update your web browser and your antivirus. They will usually be able to block malicious content even if you clicked on it. Hackers will continue to use spoofed links to trick you into thinking that they are well-known e-commerce platforms like eBay or Paypal. Keep an eye out for news about the latest scams and to read more like this? Get the latest news and tips from ‘ve successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Email is invalidWe won’t spam and you will always be able to unsubscribe.
Emily Green is a content writer who loves to investigate the latest internet privacy and security news. She thrives on looking for solutions to problems and sharing her knowledge with NordVPN readers and customers.
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Spoofed URL – Wikipedia
A spoofed URL describes one website that poses as another website. It sometimes applies a mechanism that exploits bugs in web browser technology, allowing a malicious computer attack. Such attacks are most effective against computers that lack recent security patches. Others are designed for the purpose of a parody.
During such an attack, a computer user innocently visits a website and sees a familiar URL in the address bar such as but is, in reality, sending information to an entirely different location that would typically be monitored by an information thief. When sensitive information is requested by a fraudulent website, it is called phishing.
The user is typically enticed to the false website from an email or a hyperlink from another website.
In another variation, a website may look like the original, but is in fact a parody of it. These are mostly harmless, and are more noticeably different from the original, as they usually do not exploit bugs in web browser technology.
Redirects can also take place in a hosts file, redirecting from legitimate site(s) to another IP, that of the spoofed URL.
Spoofing is the act of deception or hoaxing.  URLs are the address of a resource (as a document or website) on the Internet that consists of a communications protocol followed by the name or address of a computer on the network and that often includes additional locating information (as directory and file names).  Simply, a spoofed URL is a web address that illuminates an immense amount of deception through its ability to appear as an original site, despite it not being one. In order to prevent falling victim to the prevalent scams stemmed from the spoofed URLs, major software companies have come forward and advised techniques to detect and prevent spoofed URLs.
SSL handshake with two way authentication with certificates
In order to prevent criminals from accessing personal information, such as credit card information, bank account/routing numbers, and one’s telephone number, home address, etc. it is important to learn and understand how these spoof URLs can be detected. It is very important to first verify the name of the site on a digital certification through the use of SSL/TLS. Always try to identify the actual URL for the web page you are on. Make sure you are able to see the full URL for any hyperlink, so that you can examine the address. Some characters that are commonly found in spoofed URLs are:%00, %01, @. Sometimes the URLs can differ by a single letter or number. In addition, set your Internet security level to high to ensure that your computer is protected from possible attacks from spoofed sites. In general, only input personal information on a Website if the name has been verified on the digital certificate. Also, if you have any concern about the confidentiality of a website leave the page immediately. 
Spoofed URLs, a universal defining identity for phishing scams, pose a serious threat to end-users and commercial institutions. Email continues to be the favorite vehicle to perpetrate such scams mainly due to its widespread use combined with the ability to easily spoof them.  Several approaches, both generic and specialized, have been proposed to address this problem. However, phishing techniques, growing in ingenuity as well as sophistication, render these solutions weak. In order to prevent users from future victimization stemmed from a spoofed URL, Internet vigilantes have published numerous tips to help users identify a spoof. The most common are: using authentication based on key exchange between the machines on your network, using an access control list to deny private IP addresses on your downstream interface, implementing filters of both inbound and outbound traffic, configuring routers and switches if they support such configuration, to reject packets originating from outside the local network that claim to originate from within, and enable encryption sessions in the router so that trusted hosts that are outside your network can securely communicate with your local hosts.  Ultimately, protection comes from the individual user. Keeping up with new spoofing techniques or scams will readily allow one to identify a scam and most importantly keep information secure and personal.
Spoofed URL contributing to PayPal phishing scam
PayPal, an e-commerce business allows money transactions to be made through the Internet and is a common target for spoofed URLs. This forgery of a legitimate PayPal website allows hackers to gain personal and financial information and thus, steal money through fraud. Along with spoof or fake emails that appear with generic greetings, misspellings, and a false sense of urgency, spoofed URLs are an easy way for hackers to violate one’s PayPal privacy. For example,, includes the name, but is a spoofed URL designed to deceive. Remember to always log into PayPal through a new window browser and never log in through email. In the case that you do receive a suspected spoofed URL, forward the entire email to to help prevent the URL from tricking other PayPal users. 
A major crime associated with spoofed URLs is identity theft. The thief will create a website very similar in appearance to that of a popular site, then when a user accesses the spoofed URL, they can inadvertently give the thief their credit card and personal details. Their spoofed URLs might use “too good to be true” prices to lure more and more looking for a good deal. Crimes like these happen quite often, and most frequently during the festive holidays and other heavy online shopping periods of the year. 
Another crime associated with spoofed URLs is setting up a fake anti-malware software. An example of this would be Ransomware, fake anti-malware software that locks up important files for the computer to run, and forces the user to pay a ransom to get the files back. If the user refuses to pay after a certain period of time, the Ransomware will delete the files from the computer, essentially making the computer unusable. Ads for these programs usually appear on popular websites, such as dating sites or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. They can also come in the form of attachments to emails.
Phishing scams are also another major way that users can get tricked into scams (see below).
Phishing is a scam by which an e-mail user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly.  Phishing is the action of fraudsters sending an email to an individual, hoping to seek private information used for identity theft, by falsely asserting to be a reputable legal business. Phishing is performed through emails containing a spoofed URL, which links them to a website. Since it usually appears in the form on an email, it is crucial to not rely just on the address in the “from” field in order to prevent phishing. Computer users should also look out for spelling mistakes within the website’s URLs, as this is another common sign to look out for in a phishing email.  The website whose URLs are in the e-mails requests individuals to enter personal information so businesses can update it in their system. This information often includes passwords, credit card numbers, social security, and bank account numbers. In turn, the email recipients are giving these fake businesses their information the real businesses already have.
IDN homograph attack
Internet fraud prevention
Social engineering (computer security)
^ “Spoof”. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
^ “URL”. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
^ “Steps that you can take to help identify and to help protect yourself from deceptive (spoofed) websites and malicious hyperlinks”. Microsoft support. October 13, 2020. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
^ Madhusudhanan Chandrasekaran; Ramkumar Chinchani; Shambhu Upadhyaya. “Phoney: Mimicking User Response to Detect Phishing Attacks”: 1–5. doi:10. 1109/WOWMOM. 2006. 87.
^ Jonathan Hassel (June 8, 2006). “The top five ways to prevent IP spoofing”. Computerworld. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
^ “How to spot fake, fraudulent, spoof, or phishing emails”. PayPal. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
^ “New E-Scams & Warnings”. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
^ “Phishing”. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
^ “Phishing and Spoofing – Your Guide to Protect Against Them”. Adweb Technologies Pvt Ltd. June 27, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
Web Spoofing – Networking Tutorial – SourceDaddy
Networking / BeginnersWeb spoofing is a means of tricking users to connect to a different Web server than they intended.
Web spoofing may be done in a number of ways. It can be done by simply providing a link to a
fraudulent Web site that looks legitimate, or involve more complex attacks in which the user’s request
or Web pages requested by the user are intercepted and of the more complex methods of Web spoofing involves an attacker that is able to see and make
changes to Web pages that are transmitted to or from another computer (the target machine)
pages can include confidential information such as credit card numbers entered into online commerce
forms and passwords that are used to access restricted Web changes are not made to
the actual Web pages on their original servers, but to the copies of those pages that the spoofer
returns to the Web client who made the term spoofing refers to impersonation, or pretending to be someone or something you are
spoofing involves creating a “shadow copy” of a Web site or even the entire Web of servers
computer, which impersonates the destination Web attacker can initiate the spoof by
sending e-mail to the victim that contains a link to the forged page or putting a link into a popular search does not necessarily prevent this sort of “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attack; the connection
appears to the victim user to be secure because it is problem is that the secure connection
is to a different site than the one to which the victim thinks they are connecting. Although
many modern browsers will indicate a problem with the SSL certificate not matching, hyperlink
spoofing exploits the fact that SSL does not verify hyperlinks that the user follows, so if a user gets to a
site by following a link, they can be sent to a spoofed site that appears to be a legitimate Later versions of browser software have been modified to make Web spoofing more
difficult. However, many people are still using IE or Netscape versions 3, both of
which are highly vulnerable to this type of attack. For more technical details about Web and hyperlink spoofing is a high-tech form of con artistry, and is also often referred to as
point of the scam is to fool users into giving confidential information such as credit card numbers,
bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers to an entity that the user thinks is legitimate, and
then using that information for criminal purposes such as identity theft or credit card only
difference between this and the “real-world” con artist who knocks on a victim’s door and pretends
to be from the bank, requiring account information, is in the technology used to pull it are clues that will tip off an observant victim that a Web site is not what it appears to be,
browser’s menu bar with one that looks the same but replaces functions that provide clues to the
invalidity of the page, such as the display of the page’s source versions of Web browsers have been modified to make Web spoofing more difficult. For
example, prior to version 4 of Netscape and IE, both were highly vulnerable to this type of attack. A
common method of spoofing URLs involved exploiting the ways in which browsers read addresses
entered into the address field. For example, anything on the left side of an @ sign in a URL would
be ignored, and the% sign is ignored. Additionally, URLs do not have to be in the familiar format of
a DNS name; they are also recognized when entered as an IP address in
decimal format (such as 216. 238. 8. 44), hexadecimal format (such as), or in Unicode.
Thus, a spoofer can send an e-mailed link such as 7A. %72%75/%70%70%64, ” which to the casual user appears to be a link to the PayPal Web site.
However, it is really a link (an IP address in hex format) to the spoofer’s own server, which in this
case was a site in spoofer’s site was designed to look like PayPal’s site, with form fields
requiring that the user enter their PayPal account information was collected by the
spoofer and could then be used to charge purchases to the victim’s PayPal site packed a
double whammy-it also ran a script that attempted to download malicious code to the user’s computer.
Because URLs containing the @ symbol are no longer accepted in major browsers today,
entering the URL in browsers like IE 7 produces an error. Unfortunately, this exploit allowed many
people to be fooled by this method and fall victim to the site, and there is no reason why someone
simply couldn’t use a link in hexadecimal format today to continue fooling best method of combating such types of attacks involves education. It is important that
administrators educate users to beware of bogus URLs, and to look at the URL they are visiting in
the Address bar of the browser. Most importantly, they should avoid visiting sites that they receive in
e-mails, unless it is a site they are familiar with. It is always wiser to enter addresses like
directly into the address bar of a browser than following a link on an e-mail that is
indecipherable and/or may or may not be though the site appeared to be legitimate at first glance, reading the information made visitors
realize that the site was a spoof in its truest features of the bogus browser claimed to
download pornography up to 10 times faster, tabbed browsing that allows a user to switch from one
Microsoft site to another, and the feature of shutting down unexpectedly when visiting sites like
Google, iTunes, Apple, and so forth. While the site appears as nothing more than a parody of
Microsoft, it shows how simple it is to create a site that can fool (no matter how briefly) users into
thinking they’re visiting a site belonging to someone Spoofing PranksNot all Web spoofs are malicious. In early 2007, Web sites appeared on the Internet
informing visitors that Microsoft had purchased Firefox, and was going to rename the
browser Microsoft Firefox 2007 Professional Edition. Two sites (and) appeared to be actual sites belonging to Microsoft. However,
upon attempting to download a version of the browser at, the
user was redirected to Microsoft’s site to download IE 7. When attempting to download
from, a copy of Mozilla’s Firefox was downloaded.