Nowadays, cyber threats are something we can’t ignore – and as technology advances, so do the methods used by scammers. One of the most devious tricks that they use is called clone phishing. In this blog post, we dive into the world of clone phishing, shedding light on what it is, the potential risks it poses, and most importantly, how to protect yourself from falling victim to it.

What is Clone Phishing?

Clone phishing is a specialized type of phishing attack where cybercriminals replicate legitimate websites or emails to deceive users into revealing sensitive information or taking harmful actions.

Unlike regular phishing, which often involves creating entirely fake content, clone phishing relies on copying genuine resources to appear more authentic and lure unsuspecting victims.

This method preys on people’s trust in recognizable brands, institutions, or contacts. Attackers go to great lengths to mimic the appearance and tone of real communications, making it difficult to distinguish between genuine and fraudulent messages.

How Does Clone Phishing Work?

To understand clone phishing, it’s essential to know how it operates.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

Step 1: Scammers pick a legitimate website or email to clone, usually from well-known sources.

Step 2: They recreate the website’s layout or email content, making minor changes to add malicious elements.

Step 3: Attackers send out the cloned emails or links through various channels like email, social media, or messaging apps.

Step 4: Recipients, thinking it’s legitimate, click links, download attachments, or share sensitive info.

Step 5: Once users engage with the cloned content, attackers can install malware, steal logins, or launch further attacks.

To appear genuine, cybercriminals use official logos, language, and email addresses similar to the legitimate ones.

How to Spot Clone Phishing Attempts

To identify clone phishing attempts, watch out for these signs:

Suspicious URLs

One of the first signs of clone phishing is sketchy URLs nestled within an email. Criminals often craft URLs that are eerily close to genuine ones. They might add an extra character, throw in a sneaky misspelling, or create domains that look almost identical to the real deal.

A trick here is to take a moment and give the URL a good look. Hover your mouse over the link (but don’t click) to see the full URL in your browser’s lower corner. If something seems fishy, it’s a good idea to steer clear of that link.

Urgent Requests

Urgent messages are a favorite trick in the clone phisher’s playbook. They’re designed to make you act fast and not think twice. If an email is pressuring you to do something quickly – like handing over sensitive info or clicking a link – give yourself a moment to think before clicking. Clone phishers play on emotions, stirring up urgency to get you to act impulsively.

Strange Sender Email

Looking at the sender’s email address can give you key information. While cybercriminals may put on a convincing display name, their actual email addresses might give them away.

Keep your eyes peeled for deviations from the official name or slight alterations that might slip under your radar. If something about the sender’s address seems off or doesn’t quite match up, you should proceed with caution.

Here’s an example:

Real: [email protected]

Fake: [email protected]

Notice that in the fake example, there is an extra “i” in the phrase “clone phishing.”

Attachments and Links

Attachments and links are used to spread malware or steer you to fake websites that aim to steal your info. When you see attachments or links, especially if they’re unexpected or the email itself seems shady, be careful. Don’t open attachments unless you’re absolutely sure they’re legit, and resist the urge to click links unless you’ve double-checked their source.

Tips to Guard Against Clone Phishing

To protect yourself against clone phishing, follow these steps:

Secure your passwords. Use strong, unique passwords and enable multi-factor authentication.

Be cautious where you’re clicking. Hover over links before clicking to verify the destination URL.

Always verify emails. Double-check sender addresses with official sources, especially if the email seems unexpected.

Stay updated. Keep software, operating systems, and security tools up to date.

Stay informed. Learn about the latest phishing tactics in order to spot new threats.

Clone Phishing FAQs

What is the difference between spear phishing and clone phishing?

Clone phishing entails cybercriminals sending duplicates of legitimate communications to recipients, while spear phishing focuses on targeting individuals who are likely to trust the sender, such as an employee receiving an email purportedly from the CEO of their organization.

What are examples of clone phishing techniques?

Clone phishing techniques involve creating deceptive emails or websites that imitate legitimate sources, such as trusted companies or individuals. These techniques often include email spoofing to mimic sender addresses, replicating website designs and content, or duping recipients into sharing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.

What is clone phishing in simple terms?

Clone phishing, in simple terms, refers to a type of cyberattack where a malicious actor creates a copy (or “clone”) of a legitimate website, email, or communication, with the intention of tricking people into thinking it’s authentic. The goal of clone phishing is to deceive individuals into providing sensitive information such as passwords, personal details, or financial information, by making them believe they’re interacting with a trusted source.

Bottom Line

Clone phishing preys on our confidence and familiarity by closely mimicking reputable sources, making it challenging to differentiate between authentic and malicious messages. To protect yourself from this threat, it’s important to scrutinize URLs, resist urgency tactics, verify sender addresses, and be careful with attachments and links. Strengthen your defenses by using strong passwords, being careful what you click, verifying sender emails, keeping your software updated, and staying informed about the latest phishing techniques.

Help protect yourself against potential threats by using IdentityIQ identity protection services. Get state-of-the-art identity theft monitoring and receive real-time alerts whenever possible suspicious activity is detected so you can quickly recover your information when it matters the most.