Spoofing is a term for fraudulent activity where bad actors masquerade as legitimate entities in order to fool an unsuspecting victim. In the digital age, spoofing of computers and organizations has become a problem. 

Bad actors will present themselves as if they belong to a legitimate organization and then get sensitive information like credit card info and bank details out of a victim. They can even make the victim send money or information to them directly.

IP spoofing is one of the most common types of spoofing on the internet. IP addresses are the numbered identifiers of computers and servers on the internet. In IP spoofing, a bad actor will send messages to a victim using a fake but legitimate-looking IP address to fool them. 

In this article, we will learn what IP spoofing is, how it works, what it is used for, how to detect it, and how to prevent it. 

How Does IP Spoofing Work?

To understand IP spoofing, you must understand the concept of packets. Data on the internet is sent in the form of small data packets. 

For example, if you wanted to send a file to someone through email, the file would be broken down into many packets, which would be sent to the recipient and then reassembled to form the file.

Each packet has some fundamental, identifying information appended to it in the form of a header. Headers contain routing information like source IP and destination IP address.

In IP spoofing, a hacker uses some tools to change the source IP address in the header and use a different IP address instead. The new IP address often belongs to a trusted entity that the victims are not wary of. 

So, the victims will think they are getting data or instructions from a trusted source without knowing it is a malicious source. Thus, they can end up compromising their systems, which may be used against their will and without their knowledge for the hacker’s nefarious purposes.

Common forms of IP spoofing are given below.

  • Masquerading as the victim’s bank to elicit sensitive information like credit card info or bank account details
  • Masquerading as an organization and asking the victim to install compromising software on their systems 
  • Duping victims into sending money to fake charities and business investments by using IP spoofing to appear legitimate.

As you can see, hackers can use IP spoofing to deal great financial damage to their victims and/or compromise the victims’ systems to gain access to it and use it for themselves without the victim knowing.

What Kinds of Attacks are Possible with IP Spoofing

Hackers have used IP spoofing for the following attacks.


DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. A DDOS attack entails that a server is bombarded with requests from multiple devices. The sheer number of requests overwhelms the server, as it cannot deal with so many requests. 

What happens is that the server is unable to respond even to legitimate requests, and the service provided by the server is essentially inaccessible.

Most servers can identify and block an insane amount of requests coming from the same IP address. However, hackers use IP spoofing to send requests that appear to be from different clients and bypass this basic protection.

Man in the Middle

Man-in-the-middle attacks are a kind of attack in which a hacker can insert themselves into the communication tunnel between two entities. They use IP spoofing to make both entities think they are talking to the right party.

The victims have no idea that a malicious 3rd party is intercepting all of their communications and leaking potentially sensitive information. This is terrible because the hacker can either use that information themselves or sell it on the black market, where other unscrupulous people may use it to harm the victims.

Hiding Bots in a Botnet Attack

Botnets are networks of compromised, remotely controlled computers that can be used to spread viruses and malware or even commit DDOS attacks. 

Nowadays, DDOS protections have gotten more robust, so they can identify when botnets are attacking their system. However, with IP spoofing, hackers can hide their botnet’s IP address and make it look like different computers are attacking the server. 

This makes identification of the botnet much harder, thereby making DDOS attacks more potent and damaging.

How to Detect IP Spoofing

To detect IP spoofing, it is necessary to have robust security measures in place. The most common and useful method of IP spoofing detection is to use packet filtering as that is the method of attack.

Packet filtering must be used in tandem with ACL (Access Control Lists). Simply put, ACL is a list of IPs that are allowed access to certain resources on a network. With ACLs, it becomes harder for bad actors to find an IP that can grant them entry to the network.

Packet filtering is just setting rules on your firewall to check the source/destination IP address and ports of all packets. Then packets are either accepted or rejected based on those rules.

Packet filtering has two types. 

  • Ingress Filtering. This is the monitoring of incoming packets. With ingress filtering and ACLs, you can check whether the IP of a packet is part of the legitimate senders’ list or not. If it is not, then the packet is rejected. 
  • Outgress Filtering. This is the monitoring of outgoing packets from a network. Outgress filtering is necessary to prevent attacks from inside the network.

IP location can also be used to check for spoofing. A firewall can be configured to only allow access from source IPs within a given location. If the IP location lookup of an address reveals that the address is from outside the allowed area, all packets from it will be rejected.  

How to Prevent IP Spoofing

You can prevent IP spoofing by following network security best practices. Do note that network admins or an ISP can only implement most of these solutions. If you are just a normal user, there probably isn’t much you can do other than keep your firewall active and antivirus updated.

Use SSL Certificates

SSL or secure socket layer certificates enable website verification. If your device is SSL enabled, then it will form a secure connection with the server it is contacting. The server’s identity will be verified with a certificate. It will help you ensure that you connect with the right server and not a spoofed one.

IP level Encryption

Encryption of IP addresses prevents hackers from learning them and, therefore, prevents spoofing of IP addresses. IPSec is a popular security protocol that can encrypt IP addresses if used in tunnel mode. 

IP Authentication

By using ACL and authenticating IP addresses that are allowed to send or receive requests, you can reduce the chances of IP spoofing. Spoofed IP addresses are not authenticated, so they can’t be used to attack the network.

Keep Your Antivirus and Firewall Updated

Normal users should keep their antivirus software updated as they monitor network traffic for malicious activity. By keeping them updated, you can protect yourself against most network risks, including IP spoofing. 


In conclusion, IP spoofing is a nasty attack vector and is particularly dangerous because of the damage it can cause. It is widely used in DDOS attacks. Such bad actors also use it to hide their botnets to make the DDOS attacks more effective.

IP spoofing can be detected with the help of packet filtering and ACL. It can be prevented by following security best practices such as encryption, certificate authentication, using IP whitelists (ACL), and keeping your firewall/Antivirus updated.

This marks the end of this article, and hopefully, you can now better protect yourself from IP spoofing attacks.

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