Phishing is a dangerous scam that has affected millions of individuals around the globe. In fact, phishing is now so prevalent that it comes in a wide variety of forms, one of which being clone phishing. This phishing method can do a lot of damage, but how exactly does it work? How can you spot and avoid clone phishing?
What Is Clone Phishing?
Clone phishing is a subset of typical phishing which involves scammers imitating official entities by cloning previously sent emails. The victim may have already interacted with the original email, and so will interact with the clone without knowing that it isn’t legitimate. Or, the cloned email can be totally unsolicited, but appear so real that the victim responds or interacts anyway.
But why would scammers do this? Pretending to be an official company or government body gives scammers the benefit of perceived legitimacy. A victim is much more likely to respond to an email from a known organization than one from someone they’ve never heard of. It’s this air of familiarity that scammers use to their advantage in clone phishing. After all, when a victim’s guard is down, and they trust the sender, it’s much easier to get information out of them.
But there is one key difference between the cloned and legitimate emails. While the latter contains safe, official links, the former replaces them with links that lead to malicious phishing websites. These websites are designed to track and steal information when it is entered by victims.
Clone “phishermen” can target anyone, be it regular individuals or high-profile politicians and CEOs. Who they target is dependent on what kind of information they’re trying to access. This could range from simple login information to highly confidential financial or security data.
Because cloned emails can look so similar to official emails, it can be difficult to spot them. But there are a few things you can do to steer clear of clone phishing scams.
How to Spot Clone Phishing
Whenever you receive any kind of link within an email, you should always run it through a link checker to ensure it is safe and legitimate. This can be a quick and easy way to save yourself from data theft. We’ve got a handy list of the best link-checking websites if you want to bookmark some for future use.
You can also simply analyze the link yourself to see if it matches up with the web address of the official body that may have been impersonated. Scammers will often create links that are as similar as possible to that which they’re trying to dupe, e.g. “W4lmart” instead of “Walmart”. So keep your eyes peeled for such errors, as they’re a red flag.
You should also keep your eyes peeled for errors within emails. If you’re receiving an email from an official entity, it is likely that they’ve checked their communications for spelling and grammar errors before sending. So, if you notice a lot of these errors within an email, this may be indicative of a scam.
Another easy way to spot a cloned email is to check the email address of the sender. If you’ve received previous, legitimate emails from the alleged sender, go back and check the email address that was used. If the address of the new sender doesn’t match that of the previous, you may be looking at a cloned email.
Lastly, you should always block any dangerous email addresses. Though a scammer may never try to communicate with you again after the first attempt, there is always a chance that they’ll strike again, so blocking them will prevent this possibility entirely.
Look Out for Clone Phishing Whenever You Receive a New Email
You may think that it’s unlikely you’ll ever become a victim of clone phishing, but this illicit tactic has become commonplace, with people unknowingly giving their private information away to scammers on a daily basis. This is why it’s always worth giving emails a once-over to ensure they’re both safe and legitimate. After all, you can never be too safe online.