What Is Phishing?


Phishing is a common problem of the computer age affecting millions of people worldwide. Computers can be an easy target for on line fraudsters and it can mean that important information such as your address or bank details are stolen unless action is taken to prevent it. Basically the act of phishing involves the attempt to acquire information from a computer by sending an email to the user.

The problem is that phishing scams can be hard to detect as the email may look legitimate at first glance. This is how so many people get fooled by such a scam. The email will have a link which when clicked on will then take you to a website. At first glance the website might appear to be the real thing. The website will ask you to enter your personal details which will give the criminals everything they need to take money from your bank account. It is quite common to find emails that claim to be from well-known high street banks that turn out to a Phishing scam.

The main targets of phishers are the customers of banks and online payment services such as PayPal. They masquerade as something that is familiar to you in the hope that you’ll take the bait and share personal information. At the end of the day they want money and they’ll go to any length of deception to achieve that goal.

There are several types of phishing techniques including:

  • Whaling – A phishing technique that is directed inclusively at senior business executives.
  • Spear Phishing – When a phishing scam is directed towards a specific company or individual.
  • Clone Phishing – This technique is perhaps one of the craftiest methods adopted by phishers. A legitimate email containing an attachment or a link is extracted and then replaced with a malicious version.

Now we’ve answered the question “what is phishing?”, but what can you do to protect yourself against it?

There a few simple precautions that you can take to help you to determine whether an email is legitimate. One of the most common mistakes made by a phisher and something that is easily spotted is the frequent use of spelling mistakes. Pay close attention to the email and you’ll see an extra letter in a word when there shouldn’t be or a missing letter. A legitimate company would most likely not send emails with such mistakes.

Be sure to check the address to see if it corresponds with one you may know. If the addresses don’t match then it is a sure sign that something is not right. Also, quite often the address is from an unidentifiable source which is a sure sign that something is wrong.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from phishing is to use anti-virus software. This will help to protect you by blocking harmful viruses and spyware. Be extra vigilant when it comes to pop ups and be careful not to click on them. When it comes to emails, don’t click on attachments or links unless you are sure of the legitimacy of the sender. Above all be cautious of emails that ask you to provide personal information particularly if the message is from an unrecognised sender.

Written on behalf of Know the net

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