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What Are the Main Differences Between Phishing and Spoofing?

Dr. Abdulrahman Kaitoua
May 11, 2020

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One of the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 outbreak is that thousands of people now work from home (and have increased their Internet usage in general).

Unfortunately, this has also resulted in hackers taking advantage of those who don’t exercise safe browsing behavior.

Two of the common methods are phishing and spoofing, Although they are similar, there are a handful of key differences that people should know.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

What Is Spoofing?

The term ‘spoofing’ refers to a practice that hackers use to disguise fraudulent emails as ones from legitimate sources. Unfortunately, they’ve become highly efficient at doing so.

For example, someone may receive an email from their bank that looks exactly like an official email that a user would receive from them. They’re generally accompanied by a message that induces urgency, such as “there’s been a change made to your account.”

Since these emails are so convincing, many people click the links in the email without a second thought. Unfortunately, this often allows the hacker to gain access to their personal information through malware.

It’s not uncommon, either, for the victim to remain unaware they’ve had their information compromised.

What Is Phishing?

Although phishing is similar, it doesn’t function in the exact same way.

The main goal of phishing emails is to redirect a user to a fraudulent website that looks identical to the official one. For example, a hacker may redirect a user to a false Twitter login page where the victim unknowingly provides the hacker with their password and user name.

Similarly, phishing emails also tend to disguise themselves as coming from financial institutions in order to gain access to someone’s financial information. 

How Can I Protect Myself?

A general rule of thumb to keep in mind is to never click links in unsolicited emails. Since some hackers are so good at replicating content from official sources, it’s unwise to trust an email simply because it looks legitimate. 

Keep in mind that this is mainly for emails that are unsolicited. Performing an action that results in an automated email response is likely to be safe since you were responsible for the email being sent.

An urgent email sent to you randomly one afternoon is not always safe, though.

Similarly, never download unsolicited attachments. Many businesses will never send you an attachment unless you specifically request them to (such as requesting a previous year’s tax return).

Defending Against Phishing and Spoofing Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about phishing and spoofing in mind, you’ll be well on your way toward staying as safe as possible online.

Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to get in touch with us today to see what we can do.

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