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The Basics of Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common threats on the internet. Every single time you open up an email on your computer you might be targeted by a phishing attack. Phishing scams are very dangerous and if you're not careful then you could end up having your identity stolen.

Although phishing is very common, not that many people actually know anything about it. There are some important things that you can do to protect yourself from this crime.

What Is Phishing?

Phishing is where criminals try to get hold of your personal information. This is commonly done on the internet, however it can also be done over the phone. Normally a phishing email will be sent which looks authentic. Phishing is dangerous because it can result in identity theft.

These emails usually appear to come from your bank account, PayPal, eBay or social networking site. As you have no reason to doubt them they are often trusted. They will urge you to follow a link in order to update your personal information.

They are commonly very persuasive and make people feel they really need to click the link to update the account. This could be because additional information is needed for security purposes. It could also be because your PayPal account has been limited.

Either way you need to be very careful when clicking on links in your email. When you click on the links you will often be taken to a very official looking website. You will then be instructed to enter security information and to update your personal information. The emails normally give a sense of urgency to complete this by assuring people that this must be completed quickly.

Spotting Phishing Emails

Phishing emails look like the real deal; however they are not. There are some things that you need to look out for. The first would be the language. Many phishing scams are started in foreign countries and this means that if the email has poor English or doesn't make sense then it could be a phishing scam.

Emails from your bank and PayPal should always look and sound professional. PayPal will also always call you by your username or real name.

Phishing only works because the phisher sends the same email out to hundreds of people. They don't know who has what bank account and so they will bombard everyone. If you happen to have an account with that name then you might click on the link. If it seems too generic then never follow any links.

Also look at the link itself; it should be the actual domain name of the company. Also right click on it and click properties. This will tell you where the link is really directing you to.

It's a good idea not to click on any links in your emails and instead input the domain names directly into your browser. You can't be too careful on the internet, stay safe!

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Spyware has many ways of getting onto your computer, such as:

When you download programs - particularly freeware, or peer-to-peer sharing programs.

More covertly, spyware can install itself just by you visiting certain sites, by prompting you to download an application to see the site properly.

ActiveX controls. These pesky spyware makers will prompt you to install themselves while using your Internet browser