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What is the difference between phishing and spoofing?

Saleha Muzammil

Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

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Overview of spoofing

Spoofing is a cybercrime in which someone pretends to be someone they are not to gain the confidence of a person or company, access sensitive information, or spread malware.

How spoofing work

Spoofing usually relies on two components: 

  • The spoof (for example, a fake website)
  • The social engineering aspect

Once the hacker gains the victim's trust, they can gain unauthorized access to a network, steal sensitive data, bypass access controls, and . Some attackers target networks rather than individuals for spoofing to spread malware, bypass security systems, or prepare for subsequent attacks.

DNS spoofing operation process

Overview of phishing

Phishing is a cybercrime in which a hacker steals someone's personal information or essential credentials by deceiving them to click a malicious link that's presented as though it came from a trusted party. It is a tool to install ransomware, virus, or spyware in user systems.

How phishing works

Following is the procedure that leads to a phishing attack:

  1. Attackers target a specific individual, group, or organization.
  2. A malicious link, masked as an authentic link, is sent to the targeted audience.
  3. Users click on the link, which redirects them to a page that requires their credentials or to a page that downloads malicious software into their computers.
  4. This enables the attackers to gain unauthorized access to user data.
Phishing attack cycle

Now let's look at the differences between spoofing and phishing.

Differences

Parameters

Spoofing

Phishing

Objective

Spoofing involves an identity theft, whereby a person tries to use the identity of, and act as, another individual.

In phishing, the attacker tries to steal sensitive information from the user.

Nature

Spoofing does not require fraud.

Phishing is operated fraudulently.

Theft

Information is not stolen.

Information is stolen.

Subset

Spoofing can be a subset of phishing.

Phishing cannot be a subset of spoofing.

Method

Spoofing needs to download some malicious software on the victim's computer.

Phishing is done using social engineering.

Types

IP spoofing, DNS spoofing, email spoofing, website spoofing, caller ID spoofing

Phone phishing, clone phishing, vishing, spear phishing, smishing, angler phishing

How to prevent spoofing and phishing attacks

The following procedures can be employed to avoid spoofing and phishing attacks:

  • Spam filter: Beware of suspicious emails. Turn on the spam filter in your email inbox. Only open attachments from trusted sources.
  • Call to confirm: If you receive a suspicious message, then call the sender to confirm its authenticity.
  • Strong passwords: Use strong passwords and change them frequently.
  • Two-factor authentication: Use two-factor authentication to strengthen an account's security.
  • Multi-layered security protocols: Add several layers to your organization's network structure, making it difficult for attackers to breach the environment.
  • Stay alert: Never divulge sensitive information online or on the phone.
  • Anti-virus software: Invest in reliable anti-virus and anti-malware software.
  • Secure sites: Use sites that have an ‘https’ prefix before the URL. Check for the lock pad icon to ensure that the site is secure. Check the spelling of URLs, websites, and emails.
  • IP address: Hide your IP address.
  • Report: Report spoofing and phishing attempts.
  • Reliable browser: Have a robust and reliable browser.

RELATED TAGS

cyber security
attacks

CONTRIBUTOR

Saleha Muzammil
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Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

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