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What is Phishing and why is it a problem?

Phishing is a method of trying to gather personal information using deceptive e-mails and websites. Phishing is a cyber-attack that uses a disguised email as a weapon. The goal is to trick the email recipient into believing that the message is something they want or need, such as a request from their bank or a note from someone in their company requesting to click a link or download an attachment.

How phishing works

Phishing attacks typically rely on social networking techniques applied to email or other electronic communication methods including direct messages sent over social networks, SMS text messages and other instant messaging modes.

Phishers may use social engineering and other public sources of information, including social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to gather background information about the victim’s personal life, work history, interests and activities.

The victim would typically receive a message that appears to have been sent by a known contact or organization. The attack is carried out either via a malicious file attachment that contains phishing software or through links connecting to malicious websites that the victim has been encouraged to follow.

Conclusion

Hopefully you now know what phishing is and understand how it works. Phishing in short is the fraudulent act of acquiring private and sensitive information such as credit card details, personal identification and account usernames and passwords.

Phishing Victimization is preventable provided the following security precautions are followed:

  • Use updated computer security tools such as anti-virus software, spyware and firewall.
  • Never open unknown or suspicious email attachments.
  • Never divulge personal information requested by email such as your name or credit card number.
  • Be sure to double check the website URL for legitimacy by typing the actual address into your Web browser.
  • Verify the website’s phone number before placing any calls to the phone number provided via email.

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