Playing Dress-Up? How to Train to Spot Websites in Disguise

By Daniella Balaban
image October 02, 2023 image 5 MIN READ

With Halloween approaching, many are ready for ghosts and costumes. But online, the real threat is from websites masquerading as authentic—but aiming to deceive.

Spoofed websites are insidious duplicates of genuine sites, aiming to trick users into sharing sensitive data or downloading malicious software. They are masterfully disguised as banks, eCommerce platforms, and other trustable entities. 

These increasingly prevalent scam websites cost users an astounding $8.8 billion in 2022. Despite cybersecurity training’s evolution, a glaring gap remains: identifying websites in disguise.

The Digital Disguise

The pandemic saw the beginning of a surge in deceptive websites. Shockingly, research indicates that nearly 78% of people have faced brand impersonation scams, meaning in the U.S. alone, a staggering 200 million+ have encountered spoofing.

How are these deceptive doppelgangers crafted? Some methods include:

The Digital Disguise

Sadly, businesses often remain oblivious to these threats until significant damage ensues—either financially or reputationally.

While software solutions provide ample security against fake websites, most threat intelligence and safe browsing solutions are lacking. That means it’s up to humans to spot these ghouls in the wild—but the problem is, most employees aren’t getting the proper training.

The Monster Mish-Mash

The Monster Mish-Mash

The importance of website spoofing in cybersecurity training can’t be overstated. Yet, it’s not addressed in many cybersecurity training programs due to a monster mish-mash of factors: outdated methodologies, not keeping pace with the threat landscape and resource constraints.

Traditionally, training has centered around foundational cybersecurity aspects, sometimes sidelining emerging threats like spoofing. These programs often view spoofing as more of an end-user problem rather than a grave cybersecurity challenge. 

A significant challenge is that website spoofing doesn’t just exploit technical vulnerabilities but also human psychology. Ever-evolving cyber threats make it hard for training regimes to stay updated. Developing in-depth content can strain organizations, leading them to prioritize other areas they consider more urgent. 

As ghosts say, “Boooo!”

Who are you gonna call? Spoofbusters

Addressing this training gap is vital in stopping websites in disguise from perpetrating more phishing attacks, malware spread, and data breaches. Training your employees to better identify variations of spoofed websites and their associated email schemes will bolster your defense perimeter and further enhance a culture of cybersecurity awareness.

To help you with this task, here’s a Halloween treat: a list of common scams and actionable strategies to unmask and avoid the fraudsters: 

Business Email Compromise

A seemingly legitimate request for a money transfer is sent to employees. Here’s how it works:


Phishing emails impersonating a legitimate person or company attempt to steal your confidential or personal data. Here’s how to detect it:


Hackers exploit our false confidence in text message security to steal personal information through smishing (SMS + phishing). Here’s how to avoid it:


Social Engineering

This term describes psychological manipulations that coerce people into actions that are essentially bad for them. Social engineering can draw unsuspecting individuals to spoofed websites through phishing emails, smishing, vishing, baiting, and pretexting.

To identify this scam:

Spoofed Websites

If you find yourself on a website that smells like a stale jack-o’lantern, here’s what to look for to determine if it’s a website in disguise:

Spoofed Websites

I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost

With these tips, you’re ready to exorcise the ghosts of scam websites in disguise. This Halloween, don’t let a website in disguise inside. Instead, use your cybersecurity awareness culture to keep the tricksters away so you can enjoy your treats without fear.

If your organization needs robust, engaging, and up-to-date employee cybersecurity awareness training that includes phishing simulations and information on detecting spoofed websites, contact CybeReady for more details.