Countering the risks of file type spoofing in cybersecurity

A perplexing threat is easy to remediate with the right tools

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Cyber attackers constantly develop new methods to breach systems. A common but often overlooked tactic is altering file extensions to hide malicious files in plain sight: a method called file type spoofing. This article examines this deceptive technique, discussing how it operates, its challenges, and effective countermeasures.

The art of camouflaging malicious files

Attackers often employ a simple trick called file type spoofing: they rename a malicious file with an extension usually seen as safe, such as changing an executable (.exe) file to look like a text (.txt) or image file (.jpg). To most users, these files appear harmless, significantly reducing any suspicion.

Altering the file extension doesn't change its core format. A disguised .exe file, even when labeled as .jpg, is still executable. The real challenge for attackers lies in convincing users to execute these files or exploiting software vulnerabilities that allow execution regardless of the file's perceived type. Sometimes, these deceptive files are part of larger, multi-staged attacks.

Strategy for defense: intelligent file type recognition

Guarding against the threat of camouflaged file types is fairly easy with advanced threat protection solutions that scrutinize files based on their actual content, not just names.

Intelligent File Type Recognition is enhances the accuracy of detecting malicious files in Salesforce environments. This advanced analysis method goes beyond traditional file scanning by analyzing the actual content of a file, rather than relying solely on its name or label. By examining the behavior and characteristics of the file's content, this feature accurately discerns the true nature of each file.

Unlike conventional systems that identify files by their extensions or names, Intelligent File Type Recognition delves into the content of each file, ensuring a more precise identification process. A sophisticated analysis of the file's behavior offers an additional layer of verification to confirm the file type. Additionally, you can block specific file types or extensions, such as executables.


Starting from version 2.3, Intelligent File Type Recognition is automatically enabled as part of the File Protection feature, requiring no separate configuration.

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