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Phishing vs Spoofing has always been a concerning topic. Phishing and Spoofing are two different types of cybercrime that can look very similar to the untrained eye. However, there are differences between them and how you should handle them as a consumer.

When someone attempts to use the identity of a valid user, it is called spoofing. Phishing, on the other hand, is a situation when a criminal uses deceptive social engineering techniques to steal a user’s private and sensitive data.

Have you ever been confused about both? You might want to know what the differences are between Phishing and Spoofing. Let’s have a look at both!

Spoofing vs Phishing: An Overview

Cyber incursions are now frequently utilized to perpetrate white-collar crimes like identity theft, data leak, and credit card fraud, thanks to technological advances and widespread internet access. The most popular techniques for online criminals or fraudsters to damage, manipulate, or destroy a computer system or network and inflict financial loss are phishing and spoofing emails. 

Both spoofing and phishing pertain to electronically produced or faked papers. Hence they are somewhat interchangeable terms. Although spoofing methods are frequently used in phishing, Spoofing is not always regarded as phishing.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is an attempt by an unauthorized party to trick you into disclosing personal information. It usually happens when you receive an email that appears legitimate but contains links or attachments that direct you to a fraudulent website designed to steal your personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. 

Around 25% of all data breaches involve phishing, and 85% of data breaches have a human component, according to Verizon’s 2021 DBIR.

Phishing emails may look like official messages from banks, online shopping sites, or other trusted companies asking you to update personal information — such as account usernames, passwords, or security questions. So it’s important to double-check any links contained within these emails before clicking on them.

What is Spoofing?

Spoofing is a method used by cybercriminals to pose as reputable or well-known sources. Attackers use fake email domains as legitimate sources. Spoofing can take many forms, including fake emails, calls, DNS spoofing, GPS spoofing, websites, and emails.

By doing this, the adversary can interact with the target and access their systems or devices with the ultimate purpose of stealing data, demanding money, or infecting the device with malware or other malicious software.

The spoofing attack aims to access sensitive information, such as your username and password, credit card number, or bank account details. Spoofing is also commonly used in phishing attacks. And almost 90% of cyber activities involve spoofing.

Phishing Vs Spoofing: Key Differences

Techniques

Spoofing and phishing are two types of attacks that can be used to extract sensitive information from users. Both use fraudulent email messages to trick users into divulging personal information or downloading malware, but they differ in how they operate.

  • Spoofing, also known as identity theft, involves sending out fake emails that appear to come from a legitimate source. The goal is to get the recipient to reveal personal information like passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing is one form of Spoofing; it involves sending out fake emails that request recipients to click on links or download attachments to provide more information about themselves.
  • Phishing typically involves using social engineering techniques and focusing on creating an emotional response from the victim by creating urgency or pity. Spoofing is more technical and often involves creating an identical-looking inbox for the victim so that it’s impossible for them to tell which email is real and which one isn’t.

Purpose

  • Spoofing is done to get a new identity: The idea behind it is to trick the victim into believing that they are communicating with someone they know and trust. This can be done through email, instant messaging, or social media, like Facebook.
  • Phishing is done to get confidential information: The goal is to trick you into giving up your personal information. It could be passwords and credit card details, making you believe that the message you received is from your bank or another trusted institution or service provider.

Ways to Prevent Spoofing

There are several ways to prevent spoofing attacks from happening in your organization, including:

Sender Policy Framework (SPF)

SPF is a method of combating email spoofing. It’s used to verify whether or not an email sender is authorized to send messages on behalf of a domain. If it’s not, the receiving server can reject the message immediately.

The SPF record contains a list of IP addresses authorized to send mail for a domain. The record is placed in the DNS zone file for each domain. You can use the free SPF checker tool by PowerDMARC. 

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

DKIM verifies that an email is legitimate and hasn’t been tampered with during transmission. It does this using digital signatures added to the message during transit, which the receiving server’s DNS records can verify.

Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC)

DMARC allows you to set policies for how your organization handles fraudulent emails that claim to be from your company but aren’t coming from your organization’s servers. These policies include things like setting up complaint-handling procedures and instructions for how you want ISPs should handle suspected spoofed emails from your domain.

Ways to Prevent Phishing

Phishing attacks can be very convincing. They often come from official-looking email addresses, contain familiar logos and images, and even sound like the real thing. To avoid falling for these tactics:

  • Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails if you don’t know who sent them.
  • Look for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors in emails that claim to be from reputable companies.
  • Check your credit card statements regularly to ensure nothing looks out of place. If you see something suspicious, contact your bank immediately.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi at cafes or hotels because hackers can access your data while sitting next to you on the same network.

Final Words

Put succinctly, and phishing is where you attempt to gather sensitive information from a target by impersonating a trustworthy agent. Spoofing is when you intentionally try to deceive the message’s recipient into thinking it came from someone or somewhere else. As you can see, there’s a distinct difference between the terms, but both can cause severe harm to your personal information and credibility.

The best way to prevent yourself is to talk to experts at PowerDMARC and use their solutions to ensure that you’re on the safe side.

Spear Phishing vs Phishing: let’s spot the difference. Phishing is a fraudulent operation where a hacker sends out a mass email to consumers or business users while pretending to be a legitimate organization or party to gain the recipient’s trust, arouse a sense of urgency, and persuade them to reveal their credentials or give money. On the other hand, spear phishing is described as a fraudulent campaign where a hacker or someone else with bad intentions obtains the contact information of a person or a group of people with privileged access.

If you’ve been around the internet recently, you’ve most likely heard about two new cyber attacks: spear phishing and phishing. It turns out there is a difference between these two attacks. This blog aims to deeply explain Spear Phishing vs. Phishing so that you’ll know which attack to watch out for.

Spear Phishing VS Phishing: Definitions

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a targeted form of phishing that uses personal information to convince the recipient to take a specific action. The goal of spear phishing attacks is to access confidential or sensitive information, such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers, and Social Security numbers. These attacks typically use email messages that appear to come from legitimate sources, such as banks and other financial institutions, payroll departments, and online retailers.

Attackers may use email spoofing, dynamic URLs, and drive-by downloads to get around security measures and carry out a spear phishing assault. Advanced attacks may take advantage of zero-day flaws in plug-ins, programs, or browsers. The spear phishing attack might be the initial phase of a multi-stage advanced persistent threat (APT) attack that will eventually carry out binary downloads, outbound malware communications, and data exfiltration.

Phishing

Phishing is a form of social engineering that typically uses mass emails sent to a large group of people to trick them into disclosing personal information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers by clicking on links or opening attachments in the email message. Phishers also masquerade as trusted organizations like banks or employers in an attempt to steal identities.

Phishing attacks are known to anyone with an inbox. A modern phishing attempt will likely appear to be a genuine email from a reputable company or bank. An observant user who mouses over the sender’s address to confirm its accuracy before clicking a link or downloading an attachment will be the only one to recognize it as malicious.

Phishing attacks play the numbers game: rather than focusing on just one person, they target many people hoping to catch a few.

Phishing & Spear Phishing: Key Statistics

With each year, phishing attacks spread more and more. Here, we’ll examine a few significant figures:

  • According to Verizon, 96% of phishing assaults were sent over email.
  • Tessian claims that, annually, employees receive 14 fraudulent emails on average.
  • According to CISCO, a phishing link was clicked on by at least one employee in 86% of firms.

Spear Phishing VS Phishing: Summary of Differences

An overview of spear phishing vs. phishing is as follows:

 

Spear Phishing Phishing
Delivery Specific Random
Recipient Single person or group Hundred or thousands of people
Tone Familiar Formal
Personal Adress Personal  Impersonal
Effort High Low

Spear Phishing VS Phishing: Key Differences

Here are some other key differences between spear phishing and phishing:

Origin: Phishing is older than Spear Phishing

Phishing has been around for a longer time than spear phishing. Spear phishing is a more recent attack that emerged in 2003 when criminals started targeting individuals instead of businesses or large groups of people.

Targeting: Spear phishing banks on social engineering, not luck

Spear phishers target individuals or organizations with personal information that they can use to gain access to sensitive information, money, or other assets. Phishers target many people at once using generic messages that appear legitimate but aren’t coming from the source they claim they’re coming from.

Technology: Phishing relies on malicious links vs. zero payload spear phishing

Phishing emails are often sent out in bulk by fraudsters who use them to trick people into giving up personal information, such as usernames and passwords or credit card numbers. These emails usually contain an attachment or link that leads to a fake website designed to collect your sensitive data. Spear phishing emails, on the other hand, are more targeted than mass emails but still rely on social engineering tricks to get you to click on a link or open an attachment. Because they’re less likely to be detected by spam filters, spear phishers can even send out their messages directly from the inboxes of those they’re targeting.

Phishing and Spear Phishing Protection Methods

Here are some ways that will provide you the protection from both attacks:

Authenticate Your Email with DMARC

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance) is an email validation system that helps prevent spoofing by verifying the legitimacy of senders’ domain names in messages. It does this by checking whether the mail server sending the message has been authorized by the domain name owner listed in the From field. 

The email authentication protocols SPF and DKIM are combined and used in DMARC. As the owner of a website or business, you want to ensure that all users or recipients will only see emails you sent or approved. The best approach to fully secure your email and ensure each message is deliberate, safe, and devoid of cybercriminal activity is to use DMARC.

Encrypt Your Data

If you have sensitive information on your computer or mobile device, you should encrypt it with a password. If someone steals your device, they won’t be able to access any of your data without knowing the password.

Use an Anti-spam Filter

An anti-spam filter is the first defense against phishing attempts and other spam messages. It blocks incoming emails before they reach your inbox and stops them from being delivered to your inbox at all. If you use Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, or another email provider with built-in filtering, you should already be protected against some types of phishing attacks.

Conduct Phishing Simulations

Phishing simulations test employees’ ability to identify fraudulent messages in their organization’s inboxes. These tests often involve sending real emails from known sources such as banks, airlines, or utilities (but sometimes they’re made up) and asking employees to report when something seems off about an email.

Conclusion

The spear vs. phishing debate will likely rage forever without a clear-cut winner. But there’s something that each side can agree on: both are bad, and we should do what we can to avoid them. In the meantime, you’ve got the resources to stay protected from any potential spear phishing attempts that might come your way.

To protect against advanced email-based attacks like Phishing, PowerDMARC helps you adopt a DMARC enforcement strategy without compromising on email deliverability.

There have been a lot of discussions in the digital world about whether or not transferring money with anonymity comes with a lot of risks. Albeit it does. In recent times, a rising phishing scam termed “ice phishing attack” has been making rounds on the internet. The crypto market has been exploding right under our noses, with more and more people registering themselves anonymously on the Blockchain to raise crypto funds and multiply their finances. While it all sounds pretty magical, that is not so much the case in reality. 

Microsoft has recently issued a warning for users about a possible variant of phishing attack that targets the Blockchain and Web3 environment, specifically. This brand new and alarming Blockchain scam has been termed “Ice Phishing”. 

For our non-crypto readers, here is a brief summary of some basic concepts before we dive into what “Ice Phishing” is: 

Data Decentralization and the Blockchain

Data decentralization refers to a data model wherein the authority over data entities is dispersed over a distributed network, instead of being concentrated in the hands of a specific body/bodies. It stays true to the fact: “every man to himself”, by reducing the interdependency among data handling parties. 

Blockchain can be defined as a decentralized database that primarily functions as a storage unit for cryptocurrency transactions. Being a secure environment that is digitally distributed and deconcentrated, it maintains the anonymity of participants during transactions and also preserves a record of the same. All information on the Blockchain is stored electronically and in a secure space that cannot be accessed by third parties. 

The Blockchain stores distributed ledgers that cannot be altered once added. Each “block” operates as a separate storage unit containing a set of transactional information within a limited space. Once the block gets filled up a new block is created to add the next set of records, which is then linked to the previous block. This forms a chain of databases that gives the Blockchain its signature name. 

Web3.0 and the possible risks associated with it

Built on the foundation of Blockchain technology, Web3.0, or Web3 as it is commonly known, is a decentralized web environment that allows users to interact with and scale their investments while offering more privacy to their data. In Web3, data is decentralized and encrypted with the help of a private key that only the user has access to. 

Unlike Web2, where data is stored on centralized servers that are supervised by a group of big tech companies, Web3 offers more in terms of security and scalability and is quickly becoming the next big thing in the crypto market. 

However, it is important to note that Web3 is still in its nascent phase, and requires quite a lot of development. Much like Web1.0 and Web2.0, it isn’t immune to data breaches or security challenges. The lack of centralization also highlights the absence of data regulation in Web3 that paves the way for malicious activities. 

Ice Phishing attacks detected by Microsoft on the Blockchain

You may wonder that if the Blockchain and Web3 are such secure environments, how are phishing attacks still wreaking havoc in the crypto world? The answer is- through social engineering. 

Attackers are just as smart as they are evil. As noticed by Microsoft security analysts, the perpetrators are getting a malicious smart contract signed by unsuspecting users that would redirect tokens from non-custodial wallets to an attacker-controlled address instead of their own. Due to the lack of transparency on the transactional interface in Web3, it is quite difficult to detect or track the displacement of tokens. 

Sounds familiar? Phishing emails sent by attackers to defraud companies make use of similar tactics. 

As suggested by security researchers at Microsoft, to prevent “Ice Phishing” one can take a few cautionary steps which include thoroughly checking whether the smart contract you’re signing is audited and unchangeable, and also verifying its security features on it. 

I am not a Blockchain user, should I still be concerned?

Yes! While “Ice phishing” is a unique variant of phishing that feeds on Blockchain and Web3 vulnerabilities, various other forms of phishing may affect individuals at every level. These are a few:

Email Phishing

Ever came across an email that sounds too good to be true? Like a 90% discount on your favorite deals, or winning a lottery? While some are easy to detect as the sender address looks suspicious, what if you receive the same email from a trusted source whose services you rely on, on a daily basis? You will click on the email. 

In an email phishing attack, the attacker spoofs the sender address to look like it is coming from a legitimate source to steal user credentials or inject ransomware. It can cause enterprise-level data breaches, identity thefts, and more. 

CEO Fraud

Decision-makers in an organization, like the CEO, are most likely to be impersonated. This is because they have access to sensitive information like no other. CEO fraud refers to phishing emails that impersonate the CEO to fool employees into transferring funds or disclosing confidential data. 

whaling attack

Whaling and Spear Phishing 

Highly-targeted forms of phishing attacks, whaling and spear phishing target specific individuals within an organization to defraud the company. Similar to CEO fraud, they are very hard to detect or bypass as they use advanced social engineering tactics. 

How to protect your organization against Phishing?

DMARC can help! Using email authentication solutions like DMARC will enable you to deploy a robust anti-phishing posture at your organization. A DMARC policy not only helps evade phishing but also provides a high degree of security against direct-domain spoofing and ransomware attacks perpetrated via fake emails. 

PowerDMARC is your one-stop DMARC software solution, on a mission to take the guesswork out of email security. Our solutions are easy to implement, come at competitive market prices, are completely safe, and highly effective! We have helped 1000+ global brands fight against phishing, and migrate to a safer email experience within months of deployment. Join us today by taking a free DMARC trial!.

Are you aware of the recent email phishing tactics cybercriminals have been using to lure in victims? Yes, that’s right, it has everything to do with the newly discovered COVID-19 Omicron variant that is sweeping through the world currently.

It has been 2 years since the COVID-19 global pandemic took the world by storm, and since then businesses have been learning to adapt to the change. Email communications, which was once an afterthought, have now become the basis of life. A recent survey found that the number of email users worldwide has been evaluated to have reached 4.3 Billion in 2022. This means evolved phishing tactics and email scams, and greater risks at business email compromise.

How are cybercriminals phishing users in 2022?

Throughout the ongoing global pandemic, ever since it first broke out, scammers haven’t rested. They have been constantly coming up with new and evolved tactics to lure in victims more easily and effectively. This time around, as soon as news broke about the newly found Omicron-variant that has been making its way around the world and spreading like wildfire, scammers wasted no time in using it as a phishing tool.

Attackers are impersonating governmental and public-health services organizations such as the NHS, to send out fake emails offering victims a free Omicron PCR test. These emails are carefully crafted to look and feel genuine, providing victims with apparently useful information that makes the message believable, thereby making the phishing lure more effective! Thousands of Gmail users and UK citizens have reported various such attempted attacks, the frequency of which is only rising.

By clicking on the phishing link mentioned at the end of the email, users are being redirected to a spoofed landing page. This page appears very similar to an original website belonging to any well-known public-health service organization. Herein victims are asked for personal information like their name, email address, mobile number, address, and date of birth along with a test kit delivery charge. On occasions, sensitive information has also been demanded that may allow attackers to bypass security gateways on banking websites to strip victims off of their money.

Preventing Phishing in 2022: Here’s what you should know!

It is important to note that no public-health service or governmental health service organization is currently providing PCR tests for Omicron. Hence any email claiming the same is a fake email aimed at tricking you.

Moreover, never submit sensitive information that can be used against you on a website unless you are 100% sure of its legitimacy.

How to become more proactive regarding phishing?

The Healthcare sector continues to be one the most impersonated organizations as we progress into 2022. The CISA has recommended DMARC as an effective measure and a healthy practice for organizations who want to take proactive initiatives against email fraud attacks. To break the myth surrounding this protocol stating that it’s hard to implement, you can now generate DMARC record instantly with our tool!

DMARC is a protocol that helps authenticate your emails by aligning them with SPF and/or DKIM, giving domain owners the opportunity to block phishing emails from reaching their customers and employees. DMARC reporting is a technique internal to the protocol itself, that provides domain owners with a wealth of information regarding attempted cyber attacks, failed email deliveries, and other issues pertaining to their emails. It is an all-in-one solution that is the answer to all your email security concerns.

If you’re a healthcare organization looking for a reliable DMARC software solution to prevent scammers from impersonating your domain, create a DMARC record today! If you want to try it out without spending a dime, here’s how you get free DMARC for your domains.

Credential phishing tactics are not new. In fact, this type of social engineering attack has been used to trick people into revealing secure information for as long as email has existed. The only difference now is the way cybercriminals are thinking about how to design these attacks. They’re relying on new technology and more believable social engineering tactics. But at its core credential phishing attacks work because they play on human’s trust in an organization.

DMARC is a viable solution that can be leveraged by domain owners to protect their organization against credential phishing attacks..

What is Credential Phishing?

Just like spear-phishing and whaling, credential phishing is a popular form of phishing attack launched by attackers wherein they use digital manipulation, often combined with the force of psychological pressure to break a user’s defenses and make them fall prey to their tactics. In recent times, 96% of all phishing attacks start with fraudulent emails that are often sent in the garb of trusted organizations. Credential phishing is no different in that aspect.

Often perpetrated using fake emails, it creates a sense of urgency among receivers with eye-catching subject lines. These emails are designed using sophisticated social engineering tactics that can easily evade spam filters and generic security gateways by spoofing valid organizational domains. Inside the email body, there is often a malicious link which when clicked on redirects the receiver to a page asking for either of the following credentials:

  • Banking credentials which the attacker then uses to wire money transfers into an attacker-controlled bank account
  • Corporate credentials (in case the victim is an employee of the spoofed company) which the attacker then uses to gain access to company databases and steal sensitive information and assets

Either way, credential phishing campaigns instigates a sense of exigency among email receivers, while launched by attackers while impersonating a reputed organization can drastically impact the company’s credibility and good name. It can lead to the loss of data and financial assets, as well, and hurt email marketing efforts.

How Does DMARC Prevent Credential Phishing?

DMARC is a powerful email validation system that was created to address phishing attacks and improve email security across the Internet. DMARC builds on pre-existing protocols like SPF and DKIM. They help validate your outbound emails by checking email headers for domain alignment. DMARC allows domain owners to set down a policy for fake emails, and choose whether they want to quarantine them or block them out. Subsequently, it keeps credential phishing attacks at bay and minimizes its success rate.

Configuring DMARC involves changing a few DNS configurations by publishing a DMARC record in your domain’s DNS. Manually creating a record can leave room for human error, hence, you can use a DMARC record generator to serve the purpose. DMARC helps reduce the risk of fraudulent activities on your domain while improving your email deliverability rate by almost 10% over time.

How to Read Your DMARC Reports Easily?

When configuring DMARC for your domains, you have the choice to enable DMARC reporting for them.  DMARC aggregate reports provide granular details on email sending sources helping you view your authentication results, measure email performances and track malicious senders faster. Webmasters, email service providers, and sending domains use DMARC aggregate reports to monitor and evaluate whether the emails they send are being authenticated and how those email messages are performing. These reports help them monitor non-compliant domains and senders, measure the success rate of their authentication and identify any new threats in a timely manner.

However, DMARC reports are sent in Extensible Markup Language, which can appear indecipherable to non-technical individuals. A DMARC report analyzer provides you with a platform where these XML files are parsed into a simpler, readable, and organized format that helps you view your reports on a colorful dashboard. It also allows you to view the results for multiple domains and sending sources at the same time, and filter results by:

Per sending source 

Per host

Per result 

Per country 

Per organization 

Geolocation

Detailed stats

Give your organization the boost of email security it rightfully deserves, by signing up for your DMARC analyzer today!