What is Phishing and why is it a problem?

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One of the most prevalent forms of cyber-attacks, phishing takes the form of an email or a text message designed to trick us into giving up our personal information. A phishing email may be disguised to look as though it comes from a financial institution such as a bank. The aim of the email is to trick you into visiting a lookalike web page and disclose your login details to the perpetrator, or deliver malware by means of a web page or attachment.

The term phishing dates back to the 1990’s when hackers launched attacks on AOL users in an attempt to gain login credentials - casting a wide net to see who they could catch, just as a fisherman does.

Today phishing emails and messages can be very sophisticated, with emails and web pages that look nearly identical to those sent by legitimate organizations. Many experts even have difficulty telling the difference between the real and fake sites. If you think an email might be from a dodgy source, remember to check the spelling of the web address/URL, don’t click links in emails that take you to login pages, don’t open any attachments, and contact your security team.