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What is Clone Phishing in Cyber Security?

Learn about clone phishing: Explore clone phishing basics, see examples, and discover prevention tips. Protect yourself from cyber scams with our straightforward guide.

What is Clone Phishing in Cyber Security?

Clone phishing in cyber security is a phishing attack in which a real and previously delivered email is “cloned for bad motivations. For clone phishing emails, hackers replace the original links or attachments with malicious ones. The definition of clone phishing varies, but the idea behind this attack is to copy a real email and attack the target users.

Hackers now use phishing clones to steal credentials or download malware on your computer. Imagine you get an email from Twitter saying someone wants to reset your password. Imagine receiving an email from Twitter stating that someone wants to reset your password. Shortly after confirming the email's legitimacy, hackers send a fake email that closely resembles the real one.

Why is Clone Phishing Effective

Clone phishing's effectiveness lies in its method and deception skills. By copying real email content, phishing attacks trick people and protect users from obvious phishing attempts. The email appears familiar and is from a trustworthy source. This causes people to overlook minor discrepancies and comply with the sender's requests, even if they are harmful.

How Does Clone Phishing Work

As we defined clone phishing meaning at the beginning of our post, clone phishing attacks trick people into thinking they are safe by using a fake email that looks real.

Here's a detailed breakdown of how clone phishing attacks work:

1. Selection of Original EmailRecipients often have this email before, like company updates, or transaction confirmation (from a trusted source).
2. Creation of the CloneThe attacker copies email, embedding harmful links or dangerous files.
3. Modification of Links or AttachmentsCloned email's real links were replaced with malicious versions.
4. Distribution to TargetsCloned email sent to original/new targets, sender spoofs address for trust.
5. Action by RecipientRecipients are tricked into clicking harmful links or downloading attachments, believing the email's authenticity.
6. Compromise and ExploitationConsequences of interacting with malicious content include data theft and system access.

Table 1: See the detailed breakdown of how clone phishing attacks work

How Do Hackers Clone Emails?

Attackers perform phishing clone through the following steps:

  • Choosing the Right Email: Attackers first choose the emails they will use for their targets. These emails are usually the emails of people the targets trust. You can use a reliable transaction confirmation, update notification, or similar emails in this selection.
  • Email Cloning: It creates an almost exact copy of the selected email. The email's design, style, and tone are the same as the original but contain harmful links or attachments.
  • Links and Attachments: In the fake clone email, the sender replaces links or attachments with malicious ones. Thus, hackers can steal personal information and install malicious software.
  • Sender Address Spoofing: The attacker spoofs the real sender's email address to make the recipients believe it is from a source they trust.
  • Deployment: The cloned email is sent to the target people.

What Does Clone Phishing Look Like?

Clone phishing emails look exactly like the real ones we trust. But, if you look closely, you might see small clues that something's off. For example, the email address might differ slightly from the usual one. Or, the email might ask you to do something urgent or strange, which seems out of place.

Also, if you hover over a link, the web address that pops up might not match what the link text says. These emails usually want you to click a link, download something, or give away personal info. They take advantage of how much we trust the person or company that supposedly sent the email.

Picture 1: What does a clone phishing email look like?

3 Common Clone Phishing Examples

Here are three typical clone phishing examples you might come across:

  • Invoice Revisions: Imagine you get an email that looks like it's from a company you buy stuff from. It says there's a mistake with the bill they sent before. This email looks legitimate and tells you to send your payment again to a new bank account, but this belongs to hackers. This is one of the clone phishing examples that hackers use in 2024.
  • Account Verification Requests: This one's pretty sneaky. You get an email that seems like it's from your bank. Or an online service you use. Asking you to click a link to confirm your account details. But the link takes you to a fake site.
  • Software Update Alerts: Ever get a notification saying you need to update some software on your computer or phone? Phish clones can make a fake email look like it's genuinely from a tech company you trust, telling you to download an update. Clicking the link or downloading the file will result in getting a virus or harmful software. Hackers use this software to tamper with your belongings.

How to Prevent Clone Phishing

We need to mix some smart tech tricks with learning cool stuff to keep clone phishing attacks away. Here’s what you can do to prevent phishing clone attacks:

  • Get Good Email Filters: Use tech to spot fake emails trying to trick us. It keeps the bad ones away.
  • Learn Lots About Safety: Everyone should get the lowdown on how tricky these fake emails can be. Learn to spot the fakes and tell someone when you see them.
  • Double Security with MFA: Add an extra security step with MFA. Even if a bad guy gets your password, they can only get in with this extra code.
  • Check Out Weird Emails: Double-check if an email looks weird. Call or message the real company or person (but not with the email's contact info) to see if it's legit.
  • Update Your Stuff: Ensure all your apps and security are up-to-date. Hackers love to sneak through old, unfixed security holes.
  • Practice with a Phishing Simulator: Use a phishing simulation tool that pretends to send you fake phishing emails. It’s a safe way to practice spotting the fakes without any real danger.
  • Take a Cyber Security Awareness Training: Use special security awareness training software that teaches you about staying safe online. It’s like a game that teaches you how to beat the hackers at their own game.

Check out this YouTube video to learn what cyber security phishing and clone phishing are.

Also, check out our YouTube video and see how the phishing simulator tool works with a comprehensive library of phishing templates.



Schedule your 30-minute demo now!

You'll learn how to:
tickTrain your employees against clone phishing with practical tests - real-world phishing emails, vishing, smishing, MFA, QR codes, and callbacks.
tickChoose from an extensive library of training content across 10+ security awareness providers to train your employees against phishing attacks.
tickUtilize automatic reporting tools to monitor employee awareness against phishing simulation emails and see your overall phishing company score.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is clone phishing in cyber security, and how does it threaten my data?

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Clone phishing in cyber security is a sophisticated phishing attack where cybercriminals replicate a legitimate, previously sent email, replacing any original links or attachments with malicious ones. This method is particularly dangerous because it exploits the trust established by the original email sender, significantly increasing the likelihood of victims inadvertently compromising their personal or sensitive data.

How can I recognize a clone phishing attempt?

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Recognizing a clone phishing attempt requires vigilance. Look for subtle discrepancies in the email address, unexpected urgency in the message content, and any misalignment between the link text and the URL it directs to upon hovering. These are signs that the email may be a clone to deceive you into clicking malicious links or downloading harmful attachments.

Why are clone phishing attacks considered highly effective?

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Clone phishing attacks are highly effective because they leverage the familiarity and trust established by legitimate correspondences. By mimicking the appearance and tone of a real email that recipients have previously engaged with, attackers can significantly lower the guard of potential victims, making it easier to trick them into compromising their security.

Can you share some common examples of cloning scams?

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Common examples of clone phishing scams include:

  • Invoice Revisions: Fake emails resembling those from known vendors requesting payment to a new account.
  • Account Verification Requests: Emails that mimic financial institutions or online services, asking for personal information through a fake website.
  • Software Update Alerts: Messages that appear to be from reputable tech companies urging the download of malware updates.

What steps can individuals take to protect themselves against clone phishing?

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To protect against clone phishing, individuals should:

  • Employ advanced email filters to block suspicious emails.
  • Educate themselves on the characteristics of phishing attempts.
  • Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for an added layer of security.
  • Verify the authenticity of suspicious emails by contacting the supposed sender independently.
  • Keep software and security measures up to date to close off vulnerabilities.
  • Practice identifying phishing attempts through simulated phishing tools.

How do cybercriminals clone emails for phishing attacks?

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Cybercriminals clone emails by selecting a trustworthy original email, duplicating its design and tone, and altering links or attachments to include malicious content. They often spoof the sender's address to make the fake email appear more convincing before distributing it to their targeted victims.

What are the steps to take if you suspect a clone phishing email?

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If you suspect you've received a clone phishing email, do not click on any links or download attachments. Verify the email's authenticity by contacting the supposed sender using a phone number or email address you know to be genuine. If applicable, report the phishing attempt to your email provider and IT department.

How does implementing multi-factor authentication help prevent clone phishing exploits?

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Implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds a critical security layer that requires a password and a second form of verification to access an account. This makes it significantly harder for attackers to gain unauthorized access, even if they have obtained your password through a clone phishing attack.

Why is ongoing cyber security awareness training important for preventing clone phishing?

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Cyber security awareness training is crucial because it informs individuals about the latest phishing techniques and prevention strategies. Regular training sessions help develop a culture of security awareness, enabling employees to recognize and respond appropriately to phishing attempts, including clone phishing.

Are any tools or resources available for simulating clone phishing attacks for training purposes?

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Yes, Keepnet Phishing Simulation software is available. This tool can help organizations train employees to recognize and respond to clone phishing attempts. The Keepnet Phishing Simulator tool offers a safe environment to practice identifying fake emails, with realistic scenarios and comprehensive feedback to improve awareness and preparedness against real phishing attacks.

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