Introduction

Do you know? Your email is Not Safe! At ordinary stretches, you may get official messages from your specialist co-ops alongside the programmers as well. They become irritating here and there, isn’t that so? Here’s the place your aggravations to these sends to create an excellent condition to the programmers for Clone Phishing. Clone phishing is the point at which a programmer makes a virtual replica of the first email message that is sent from a confided organization. Programmers modify the email by changing or adding a connection that prompts a malevolent and phony site.

  1. What is Clone Phishing?
  2. What are the critical features of clone phishing?
  3. Examples – Clone Phishing 
  4. Clone phishing and different types
  5. Preventing clone phishing

1. What is Clone Phishing?

Clone Phishing occurs through your emails. This is done by riding on the trust that you place on emails received from reliable sources. Unknown to you and everyone else, online attackers take advantage of this trust and literally clone the email to carry out malicious activities.

Before we move forward, it is essential to know that phishing attacks are carried out through emails and websites. It is the way to get malware or ransomware installed on the users’ systems. 

Clone phishing goes a step beyond spear phishing. Phishing is a way to make an email look legitimate, but such emails do not have a username or the name or the address of the person receiving the email. Spear phishing is a step ahead of the basic phishes because in this case the attacker first finds out complete details of the target group and then sends an email that includes the name of the receiver, email id, username, phone numbers, and so on.

Clone phishing definition – in this type of phishing, the attacker clones a genuine or legitimate email that you might have received from an authentic sender but sent from a spoofed email id. The attacker creates an email that is identical to a genuine email, that he intercepts or can be a part of a previous message that the receiver sent to the sender. This email copy contains malicious content like a link that, when clicked leads to the installation of malware onto your system. 

Thus, the main difference between this type of phishing and other kinds of phishes is that there is a duplication of an original and existing email. 

How does this form of phishing happen? The email copy is sent containing malicious links or attachments. The attacker just waits for the recipient to click on the links because doing so leads to a sure-shot trap. This is, however, not the end. The hacker then accesses the contacts of the innocent recipient and then forwards the same mail with malicious links to the others. 

Research points out that between October 2017 and March 2018, the number of cloned websites was up by 73.8%. Of this, about 48.6% were sites that used .com.

2. What are the critical features of clone phishing?

  • There is a duplicate copy of a genuine email. 
  • The email contains links and attachments that are malicious in nature.
  • The email id is false though it will appear to be legitimate.
  • The clone email is usually made to appear like part of existing email correspondence. So, you could receive it as a reply to the original message or an updated version.

Clone phishing leaves behind a harmful trail – it is because users generally do not doubt or distrust emails and have probably no knowledge of detecting spoofed email ids or a duplicate email.

3. Examples – Clone Phishing 

Here are a few examples of emails that have been targeted and phished. 

  • Messages that contain a headline, saying that there is a discount or credit offer that lapses before a specific date.
  • Words like ‘Click here to get your refund or credit’.
  • ‘Hurry your credit is about to expire’.
  • A virus warning that appears hoax.
  • An invitation to click on a link saying ‘click on this link’ or ‘here is the invite’.
  • An email that promises rewards – mentions an amount of money or a coupon card and then asks the user to click on the link for claiming the reward. To create urgency, there would be a date mentioned saying that the user needs to click the link by a particular date to avail of the offer.

4. Clone phishing and different types

  • The email address is spoofed, but the objective is deception.
  • The email contains malicious links or attachments.
  • The email content is updated in a manner that it has a devious intent to it.

5. Preventing clone phishing

Since the problem exists on a large-scale and the cases are now rising, it is essential that at an individual level, email recipients keep themselves abreast of different tactics of cyber fraud techniques. They should also keep researching to find ways and means to safeguard themselves from phishing attacks.

Follow a few of these steps to secure your email id as well as your enterprise from the attack of phishes.

  • Beware of spotting clone phishing. 
  • The link mentioned in the cloned email does not match with the actual link that was mentioned in the genuine email. One way to understand authenticity is to hover the mouse over the link.
  • The senders’ name or the email id of the sender of both the emails differs and you can detect it if you pay attention.
  • There are mistakes in the grammar or spellings in the phished email.
  • Provide training and education related to Cybersecurity to all users in the organization. 
  • The use of anti-spam software should be done so that the program can filter out emails that look cloned or phished. 
  • At an organizational level, the use of firewalls is also useful to prevent phishing attacks. There are threat management solutions that scrutinize emails and sites to find URLs or senders’ information that does not match.
  • Cross-check with the sender or the organization from whom the email has been received, especially if there are some suspicious elements to the email.
  • Do not share your personal information with just about anyone, until and unless you trust the person.
  • In case the email looks doubtful or is any unwanted email, it is best not to clock on the ‘Reply or ‘Remove’ button.
  • Use websites that have ‘https’ as the URL prefix.
  • Use a brand protection tool so that your brand details cannot be cloned online.
  • If you have been a target of clone phishing, it is always advisable to report the same to the cybersecurity cell or anti-phishing regulatory authorities.
  • At an organizational level, ensure that there is a well-thought and planned backup plan in the case of a ransomware attack.

Conclusion

Online clone phishing is a reality with harmful intent. The weakest link is that users do not suspect or doubt the goal, especially since the spoofed email id or the senders’ name appears genuine and trustworthy. 

The best way is to protect and safeguard the employees and data by using modern and smart technologies and also keep educating users on an ongoing basis. 

There are quite a several software companies that offer intelligent solutions and systems that help in organizing security awareness training as well as tools that help keep a watch over the existing risks from online attackers. Ensure that your organization uses empowering and smart solutions to handle online phishing attacks.

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