What is Phishing?
Phishing (pronounced fishing) is quite simply the criminal process of stealing someone's personal information online. This information tends to be credit card details, usernames and passwords.
So just how did three of the biggest names in technology fall foul of Cyber criminals?
These "Data Snatchers", as this form of cyber criminal are known, accomplished this by setting up fake websites that appeared identical to Mail, Gmail and Hotmail and then tricking unsuspecting users into signing into their account on these fake sites, recording the information.
This stolen information is feared to have been used to access the email accounts and steal personal information and there have been many reports of some of the information being posted online.
Traditionally the user is contacted via email claiming to be from the legitimate site and directing the user to the fake websites (some of which do appear as carbon copies of the real thing). Essentially this is an up-to date version of a confidence trick.
How do I avoid becoming a phishing victim?
There are a few very simple steps to avoid becoming a victim of these scams:
- Don't use the same username and password for more than one account as this means that if the do get the details of one, they can't access any others. It has been estimated that as many as 40% of online users have the same login details for their online bank accounts as the do for their email.
- Don't click on any unusual requests to links or download software, 99% of the time you can see the originating email address isn't from the company it is claiming to represent. This is not always the case however, our advice, if you are unsure, just visit the actual site and either look for more information, or simply login via the usual method.
- In the same way, look at the destination URL's, if the URL is different to the official website that is a sure sign that something dodgy is going on.
- Make sure that you have up to date antivirus software installed along with a good firewall, don't rely on the standard windows but install a good third party solution. There are many free and paid for firewall and antivirus software and some will actually provide both at the same time.
- Keep your software up-to date, this includes your operating system and your firewall, anti virus software.