What is Phishing?

Think of phishing as fishing for information. Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain your personal information, and it almost always comes in the form of an email.

The hope for these Internet criminals is to get your credit card number and even your social security number, along with various passwords and account numbers. What they want is for you to click on a link they’ve sent in the email.


How can you identify a phishing email?

Spotting phishing and other types of malware is actually easier than you think.

  • Phishing emails are usually mass emails. The criminals sending them are trying to reach as many people as possible. Because of this, they aren’t personalized emails. They’ll have generic subject lines and content.
  • Companies wouldn’t request personal information via email. If your bank, insurance company etc. needed personal information from you, they wouldn’t be asking for it through an email. If you receive an email asking for your information, chances are it’s a phishing attempt.
  • Look for a timeline. The criminals looking to steal your information don’t want to wait for it. A phishing email will usually contain a specific timeline (“in the next 15 days,” “within 30 days”).

And one of the biggest indicators of phishing emails? Poor spelling.


Protect yourself from phishing and malware

Being informed about malicious software and phishing emails is one of the best ways to make sure your computer and operating system stays healthy.

Another way? Ensure your operating system is automatically updating, which you can monitor in your computer settings.

Also, it never hurts to have as many walls of defense against malware and email viruses as possible – that means firewalls, anti-virus programs and security suites. You should even consider storing data, pictures and documents to the cloud, like Google Drive or Dropbox. That way if a cyber-attack happens, you won’t lose anything important to you.