In the world of online security, there are many different types of phishing attacks that cybercriminals use to try and gain access to your personal information.

One of the most sophisticated and difficult-to-detect attacks today is Phishing. Clone phishing elevates this class of cyber attack in the threat actors’ quest to create crafty strategies to trick unwary victims.

Organizations in both the public and private sectors need to understand what clone phishing is, how to spot the threat, and how to avoid being caught out. If not, you run the risk of opening your business and data to new phishing scams.

What Is Clone Phishing?

Clone phishing is a type of phishing attack where the attacker sends an email that looks identical to a previously sent email from the same company or organization. The only difference is that the malicious email contains a link to a fake website that asks the user to input their personal information or login credentials.

This type of attack is effective because it leverages the trust that the user has in the company or organization. The user sees an email that looks exactly like one they’ve received before, so they assume it’s safe to click on the links and input their information. However, by doing so, they’re unknowingly giving attackers access to sensitive data.

Clone phishing attacks are difficult to detect because they look identical to legitimate emails. Additionally, users are less likely to be suspicious. Users can also open the email’s links without giving them a second thought. This sophisticated scam can expose your company’s data to theft and infect countless devices with malware.

How Does Clone Phishing Work?

The first step in a clone phishing attack is for the attacker to spoof the email address of someone in the target organization. They do this by changing the “from” field in their email client so that it displays the name and address of someone in the organization.

Next, they create a clone of an existing email that’s been sent by the organization. This step requires some research on the part of the attacker, as they need to find an email template that closely resembles one used by the organization. Once they have both pieces (the spoofed “from” field and the cloned email template), they put them together and send out their clone phishing emails to victims within the organization.

As we mentioned before, these emails often contain links to fake websites that are designed to collect users’ personal information or login credentials. Once users input their information on these sites, attackers can then use it to gain access to sensitive data or systems. In some cases, attackers will also plant malware on these fake sites in order to infect victims’ computers with viruses or other malicious software.

The best way to protect yourself from this type of attack is to be aware of the signs that an email might be malicious.

Signs an Email Might be Malicious

There are several signs that an email might be part of a clone phishing attack. If you receive an email that:

  • Asks you to click on a link or open an attachment.
  • Asks you to confirm your account information or login credentials.
  • Contains grammar or spelling errors.
  • Is from an unknown sender.
  • Threatens measures such as account closure if you do not comply it’s best to exercise caution before taking any action.
  • Emails sent from spoof email accounts are intended to make recipients think they are coming from trusted senders.
  • Emails or messages that pretend to be from real senders but have been updated or altered in some way.
  • A malicious attachment or link is added in replacement of an email message’s original attachment or link.
  • Any inconsistencies or incompatibilities between the correct links and modified URLs. By simply hovering your cursor over the email’s link to see where it takes you, you may quickly determine if they are identical.
  • Check for Domain spoofing, a hacker impersonates a legal domain. However, in reality, they are pretending to be a company or a member of its personnel.

How to Protect Yourself against Clone Phishing Scams

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from clone phishing attacks:

  1. Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails, even if they appear to come from someone you know. If you’re not expecting an email from someone, err on the side of caution and don’t open it.
  2. Don’t click on any links in emails unless you’re absolutely sure they’re legitimate. If you’re unsure, go directly to the website in question by typing its URL into your web browser rather than clicking on a link.
  3. Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and run regular scans of your computer for malware. This will help ensure that you don’t accidentally install viruses or other malicious software onto your computer via a clone phishing email.
  4. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible – especially for critical accounts like your email account or online banking account. 2FA adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter both your password and a code that’s generated by an app or hardware device before you’re able to log into your account.
    This makes it much harder for attackers to gain access even if they do have your password because they would also need physical access to your device in order to generate the code required for 2FA.
  5. Use Firewalls has it operate in the background to spot URL mismatches and sender variations that can indicate clone phishing.
  6. If you want to make sure the email you received is genuine, get in touch with the sender. Most businesses place a strong emphasis on this preventative strategy since it alerts the other legitimate party.
  7. Don’t disclose information on any website with a fake or misspelt domain name.
  8. Make sure all use complex passwords that include numbers, symbols, and a mix of upper- and lowercase letters. Update your passwords on a regular basis.

Clone phishing is a serious threat, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from this type of attack. Remember to be cautious of any emails or notifications that come from unfamiliar senders, don’t click on any links in suspicious emails, and keep your anti-virus and anti-malware software up-to-date. By following these simple tips, you can help keep your personal information safe from cybercriminals.

Phishing attacks are getting more sophisticated each day. It’s important to be aware of the red flags and know how to avoid them in order to stay safe online. But, even if you think you have a good understanding of cyberattacks, it’s always a good idea to enrol on a cybersecurity awareness program like Siccura Cybersecurity Awareness. Our programme is full of interactive activities like quizzes, puzzles, questions and answers that will help keep you updated on the latest scams and how to protect yourself from them. So don’t wait any longer – enrol today and start protecting yourself against cybercrime!