Difference Between Phishing and Spoofing
Updated on 20th Jun, 22 176 Views

Besides the comparison of spoofing vs phishing, here is what we will cover in this blog.

Let us first understand the definitions of phishing and spoofing and what they entail.

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What is Phishing?

Phishing is a social engineering technique that involves the use of emails that are designed to look legitimate but in reality, intended to trick users into clicking on a malicious link with an attachment that is potentially laced with malware. Cybercriminals use this technique to acquire personal or sensitive information of victims, such as credit card numbers or login credentials.  A phishing attack primarily aims to lure a target into revealing personal information.

Types of Phishing

Types of Phishing

Following are the types of phishing to watch out for:

  • Email Phishing: The attacker makes use of emails to attack online
  • Phone Phishing: This type of phishing is carried out through the phone
  • Clone Phishing: It is a whaling attack that targets senior executives of a firm
  • Spear Phishing: A sophisticated phishing attack where a harmful email is sent to a specific target
  • Angler Phishing: It is carried out through social media and steals data posted on a platform or tricks users into revealing personal information
  • Smishing and Vishing: Phishing that involves the use of text messages is smishing, while vishing is done through telephonic conversations

It is not unpopular to mix a form of spoofing into their phishing attempt to make it appear more legitimate. For instance, an attacker might spoof a phone number or an email domain to appear more believable. In this way, it is more likely that users will be tricked into falling prey to such attempts.

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Examples of Phishing

Following are some examples of how phishing might be carried out:

  • An email asking the user to verify personal data by clicking on a link
  • ‘Click Here’ is a common term used in such emails
  • Phone calls or emails that appear to be from the bank requesting OTP, password, or PIN
  • An email claiming that a particular payment made by you has failed
  • An email that cons the user by mentioning tax refunds
  • When a user is led to a fraudulent site when they enter the web address of a bank in the browser 
  • When the DNS of a user’s routers are changed without their knowledge

What is Spoofing?

Spoofing is an attack where an unknown or untrustworthy form of communication is masqueraded as a legitimate source. The objective of this form of attack is to get users to divulge their personal information.

While phishing may sometimes involve some kind of spoofing (via a phone number, email address, or a website domain) to make the attack seem legitimate, other forms of cyberattacks can also involve spoofing to conceal the true source of the attack. DDoS and homograph attacks are examples of such instances.

Types of Spoofing

Types of Spoofing

There are multiple types of spoofing to watch out for:

  1. Email Spoofing

Email spoofing is when the attacker makes the ‘from address’ in an email appear legitimate. Phishing and business email compromises often incorporate this type of spoofing. Email spoofing usually aims to infect a user’s device with malware, steal their information, or request money.

  1. Website Spoofing

Website spoofing is when cybercriminals set up fake websites that seem legitimate but may attempt to steal personal information or maybe malware-laced. For example, a site could be dressed up as a trusted banking site that requests your login information to steal funds from your actual account.

This form of spoofing is oftentimes tied to email spoofing, where the email will link to the spoofed website.

  1. Caller ID Spoofing

Caller ID spoofing is when a phone number is spoofed to look like a trusted or local phone number to make it more likely for the target victims to divulge their personal information. This form of spoofing is often used in robocalls, the unwanted, incessant calls from unknown numbers that are received daily.

  1. IP Spoofing

Cybercriminals use IP spoofing to hide computer IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. It can be used to impersonate another computer system or disguise the true identity of the sender. IP spoofing is used in DDoS attacks to conceal the source of the malicious traffic.

  1. DNS Server Spoofing

DNS Server Spoofing is when attackers divert the traffic to a different IP address and lead to websites that spread malware.

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Examples of Spoofing

Following are the examples of spoofing:

  • When a complete website is hacked by changing the IP address of the site 
  • A website with the appearance of a banking website that requests a login, but it’s actually a way to get your account information

Now that we have covered the definitions, types, and examples of both phishing and spoofing, let us go ahead to learn the difference between phishing and spoofing.

Difference between Phishing and Spoofing

Let’s explore the differences between phishing and spoofing based on various parameters.

1. Objective

When it comes to the primary purpose of carrying out Phishing, the aim is to extract sensitive personal data of the recipient, whereas, in spoofing, the goal is stealing someone’s identity.

2. Nature of Scam

Surprisingly, spoofing is not considered fraud because the attacker is not accessing the email or phone number of the victim and no information is being stolen. However, phishing is a type of online scam or fraud because data theft is involved.

3. Subset 

Spoofing is a subset of phishing because often attackers online steal the identity of a legitimate user before committing the phishing fraud. However, phishing is not involved in spoofing.

4. Method 

Phishing does not involve the use of malicious software and is carried out using social engineering techniques. In spoofing, malicious software is installed on the target computer.

5. Types 

Phishing types are email phishing, vishing, smishing, clone phishing, phone phishing, spear phishing, and angler phishing. The types of spoofing include email spoofing, caller ID spoofing, DNS server spoofing, website spoofing, and IP spoofing.

Also read: Difference between Phishing and Pharming

Spoofing vs Phishing

ParametersSpoofingPhishing
ObjectiveHacker tries to steal the identity to act as another individual.Hacker tries to steal the sensitive information of the user.
NatureIt doesn’t require fraud.It is operated in a fraud manner.
TheftInformation is not theft.Information is theft.
SubsetSpoofing can be part of the phishing.Phishing can’t be the part of the spoofing.
MethodNeeds to download some malicious software in victim computer.No such malicious software is needed.
TypesEmail spoofing, IP spoofing, URL spoofing, caller ID spoofing, DNS server spoofing, website spoofingPhone phishing, clone phishing, vishing, smishing, spear phishing, and angler phishing

How to Prevent a Phishing Attack

Some preventive measures to prevent phishing attacks from happening are:

  • Before clicking on links that are received through emails, hover over the link to double-check the destination
  • Delete suspicious emails that contain sensational subject lines like “Hurry” or “Must Act Now” or emails that contain misspellings within the body of the message that seems unprofessional.
  • Open attachments that are from trusted sources only.
  • When in doubt, always try to call the sender to verify that the email was from them.

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How to Prevent a Spoofing Attack

An effective way of protection against spoofing attacks involves paying close attention to the details within the communication:

  • Check for spelling errors in emails, URLs, or webpages
  • Beware of grammatical errors within the content of the communication 
  • Pay close attention to the sentence structure or odd sentence phrasing

The above are all tell-tale signs that the email, webpage, phone call, or the form of communication is possibly spoofed.

One can also go a step further and include the same precautions that are there for phishing. Doing so will entail being cautious of any form of communication from an unknown sender, and more so if you are being asked for any form of personal information. 

In general, if the sender is unknown or something just seems off, delete the message, close the browser, or if the sender is known to try calling them to confirm the legitimacy of the email.

Conclusion

As technology and cyber security are evolving, cybercriminals are changing the way they incorporate phishing and spoofing into their tactics. Therefore, it is essential to remain vigilant by keeping security at the top of our minds at all times and dealing with technology. Being on the lookout for signs of attack is always better than regretting once the damage is done.

Learn more about phishing and spoofing from our experts in the Cyber Security Community.

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