Phishing is a popular attack form that is used to steal data on the Internet. It is often associated with emails as the majority of phishing attacks are conducted via email, but there are other forms as well.
Phishing attacks usually look as if they are coming from a legitimate source, PayPal, Amazon, a financial institute or even the government. This is done to make the email look legit so that users are more likely to believe what the attackers are trying to make them do.
This usually involves clicking on a link in an email but may sometimes also involve loading an attachment or other tasks.
I worked for a large bank in the past where phishing support requests were handled regularly on a daily basis. Users usually believed the "phishing story" and provided attackers with account information and sometimes even transaction numbers. At other times, they may have executed attachments that they thought were security updates or financial reports.
The websites that attacked users may be directed to look like the real website more often than not. This is again done to get users to believe that this is all a legit process and that they have nothing to worry about. Data that is entered on those sites on the other hand is usually saved on remote servers and used by the attackers to steal money, take over accounts, spam or perform other malicious activities.
To sum it all up. Tech savvy users may detect the majority of phishing attempts and fake websites right away. Inexperienced users on the other hand find it more difficult and that's where guides like this one comes in handy. This is not only a trust issue as some may assume. If something looks real, it must be real, right? It is also important that users get a basic understanding of the technical possibilities, that email addresses can be faked and that it is easy to replicate official emails and websites.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.