Cameron McGuffie

Cyber Security & Software Development Professional

Phishing: What is it?

Phishing is a type of cybercrime that involves the use of malicious emails, text messages, and websites to deceive victims into providing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account details. The goal of phishing attacks is to gain access to personal accounts or financial resources. Phishing has become increasingly common in recent years due to its effectiveness and low cost for attackers.

The term phishing comes from the analogy of fishing for information. Attackers send out large numbers of emails or messages in hopes of getting a few bites from unsuspecting victims. These messages often appear to come from legitimate sources such as banks, online retailers, or government agencies. They may contain links to malicious websites or attachments containing malware.

The most common form of phishing is email-based. Attackers will craft emails that appear to be from reputable companies and include links to malicious websites or attachments with malware. These emails often contain urgent language urging the recipient to take immediate action. For example, they may claim that there is an issue with the recipient's account and ask them to click on a link to update their information. If the recipient clicks on the link, they are taken to a website designed to look like the legitimate company's website but actually controlled by the attacker. This website will then prompt the user for their login credentials or other sensitive information which can then be used by the attacker for nefarious purposes.

Other forms of phishing include SMS (text message) phishing, voice phishing (vishing), and social media phishing. All of these methods involve sending messages that appear to come from legitimate sources in order to trick victims into providing sensitive information.

In order to protect yourself from phishing attacks it is important to practice good cyber hygiene. Be suspicious of any unsolicited emails or messages you receive and never click on links or open attachments unless you are certain they are safe. It is also important to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication whenever possible. Additionally, make sure your computer and mobile devices are up-to-date with the latest security patches and antivirus software.

By following these simple steps you can help protect yourself from falling victim to a phishing attack. Remember: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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Written by
Cameron McGuffie
December 3, 2022