Clone phishing or cloning is a type of social engineering attack in which cybercriminals pretext their targets into thinking a malicious email looks just like a legitimate one. Clone phishing attacks are typically much harder for unsuspecting individuals to identify because they look similar to legitimate emails. However, your organization will be well-positioned to defend against cloning attacks with a better understanding of clone phishing.
What is Clone Phishing?
Clone phishing attacks can take the form of clone emails or websites. When cybercriminals send clone phishing emails to unsuspecting targets, the emails will look legitimate.
To understand how to defend your organization against these attacks, we’ll discuss:
- Examples of clone phishing attacks used by cybercriminals
- Differences between cloning and other phishing attacks
- Cybersecurity methods that can help prevent cloning attacks
Optimizing your cyber defenses against clone phishing attacks starts with developing security awareness about cloning and other types of social engineering attacks.
Clone Phishing Examples
In many instances, clone emails look exactly like an email a user may anticipate. Clone websites are also designed to look just like legitimate ones, except that their domains aren’t real and they are not secure. When targeted toward employees in an organization, clone phishing emails include urgent messaging prompting employees to click on potentially malicious links.
Examples of clone phishing pretexts include:
- Clicking a link for an urgent upgrade to a new software
- Responding to an email from “IT support” with sensitive access credentials
- Clicking a link to a website where a user can claim a “gift” or “prize”
Cybercriminals may also target your employees’ private email addresses. Compared to corporate email accounts, users may be less suspecting of clone phishing attacks in their private inboxes, making it easier for cybercriminals to exploit access control vulnerabilities.
For example, if a user recently shopped at an online store, a well-orchestrated clone phishing email from the store in question may seem legitimate—and it may be opened on a work device.
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How are Phishing Clones Different From Other Types of Phishing
Compared to email phishing, voice phishing (vishing), and SMS phishing (smishing), clone phishing attacks require a much higher level of sophistication to successfully orchestrate and deploy. In most cases, a clone phishing perpetrator must bypass some level of access control to access an organization’s emails. Then, the perpetrator must create a nearly identical clone of the email message to convince the targets of the clone phishing attempt of its legitimacy.
Bypassing access controls and cloning emails successfully requires a fair amount of planning and attention to detail, which may not be the case with other types of phishing. However, the stakes are also higher with clone phishing. If successful, a well-orchestrated clone phishing email can compromise your access controls and expose your sensitive data.
How To Prevent Cloning
The best way to prevent cloning security risks is to invest in access control measures to mitigate unauthorized access to your IT assets. Ultimately, training your employees to be aware of the various types of cloning threats will help strengthen other types of security controls or safeguards, helping you keep assets across the organization safe.
Here are the top safeguards to prioritize:
Security Awareness Training
Even after implementing the most secure controls to safeguard your data, all it takes is a single employee clicking on a link or responding to an email to compromise your security posture.
Investing in security awareness training helps reduce the gaps and vulnerabilities by:
- Improving compliance with the requirements stipulated by regulatory standards, ensuring that processes and procedures are standardized across the organization
- Optimizing productivity via streamlining security controls across digital assets
- Increasing the response rate to security incidents and potential phishing attacks
- Enhancing cybersecurity best practices in alignment with security policies
Security awareness training is integral to the success of your cybersecurity program and will help you maintain an optimized security posture, even in the face of advanced cloning attacks.
Secure Your Email Credentials
If left unsecured, email credentials make it much easier for cybercriminals to access emails that can be used to orchestrate future cloning attacks. You can secure your email credentials by:
- Avoiding paper storage of email passwords, especially in easily accessible areas
- Using strong, hard-to-decipher passwords
- Changing default passwords to unique ones
- Implementing multi-factor authentication
- Changing passwords frequently
- Securely transmitting files via encrypted emails
One of the most effective ways to secure email credentials across your organization is to institute a security policy that establishes minimum standards for access control security.
Ensure Link Authenticity
Before clicking on any links in an email, you should verify their authenticity by hovering your mouse over them to view the destination URL. If f the destination URL looks unusual or directs to a non-existent domain, the link in the email may be malicious. Training your employees to identify potentially malicious links will help mitigate the chances of accessing clone websites.
Double Check Email Senders
A tactic used by cybercriminals when sending clone emails to targets within an organization is to use the name of someone influential in the organization (such as the CEO) to convince targets of the email’s legitimacy and urgency. For such clone emails, the sender addresses are fake, and their domains are non-existent. As a best practice, double-checking the sender’s email address increases awareness and minimizes the chances of successful clone atacks.
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Implement Anti-Spam Software
Anti-spam software helps ward off as many clone phishing attempts as possible, reducing the risks of employees falling prey to attacks. Detecting, filtering, and blocking potential spam helps safeguard your organization from clone phishing threats. And working with a managed security services provider (MSSP) will help you find the right anti-spam software for your security needs.
Scan Attachments For Malicious Codes and Viruses
Deploying software tools that automatically scan attachments for clone phishing risks helps mitigate threats related to malicious codes and viruses. Most software can be integrated into email applications to help organizations seamlessly prevent cloning via high-level encryption.
There are several benefits to adopting email encryption across your email applications:
- There is greater confidence in privacy protections provided during data transmission
- You can achieve streamlined compliance with regulatory encryption requirements
- Built-in encryption minimizes the need to adopt external third-party security services
- Spam can be detected much faster via in-built email encryption tools
As cloning threats become more sophisticated, your cyber defenses will require optimization to safeguard your organization’s digital assets. And, rather than optimizing your cyberdefenses internally, it is much easier to work with an experienced industry partner like RSI Security.
How RSI Security Can Help You Prevent Cloning
Partnering with RSI Security will help you mitigate clone phishing attacks and secure your assets. In many cases, cloning risks can be attributed to lapses in security awareness across the employees in an organization. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a junior or senior employee; everyone is susceptible to an attack. RSI Security’s training services mitigate these threats with:
- Security tests for phishing, vishing, and other types of social engineering threats
- Automated security awareness training campaigns
- Phishing alerts and reply tracking tools
- Social engineering indicators
- Security hints and tips
- Access control training at various levels
- Monthly exposure checks
Based on the metrics tracked with the security awareness training tools, you will be better positioned to understand sources of vulnerabilities, enabling you to develop reliable best practices to boost your cyber defenses. Contact RSI Security today to learn more!