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The internet is swamped with many dangers from spam to malicious software. Aside from the barrage of unsolicited emails, viruses and worms, internet users must also be on the lookout for financially damaging scams, mainly a sophisticated scheme known as phishing.

Most Phishing Scams Arrive Via Email

In general, phishing attacks occur via email. An attacker will contact a probable victim posing as a representative from a legitimate company. Some of them are well prepared, duplicating logos and even domain names to disguise their intentions. The attacker will attempt to lure you to a rogue website, where you're instructed to enter your credit card information or bank account number. They may claim to need this information for a number of reasons, but will actually use it for criminal purposes.

The current prevalence of phishing has resulted in the antiphishing revolution, which consists of a number of educational processes and tools to help combat these scams. A phishing filter is one such technology that helps to protect you against this increasingly growing crime and prevent the risk of identity theft.

How a Phishing Filter Works

Phishing is a costly crime, but preventing it doesn't have to be expensive. You can begin protecting yourself from this scam by using the new and improved features of your web browser. Microsoft Internet 7.0 comes included with a built-in feature that scans the web pages and URLs you visit. Similar to a virus scanner or spam filter, it seeks out certain patterns associated with known phishing sites and other internet scams, warning you if these locations have been flagged for performing suspicious operations.

The Internet Explorer phishing filter also includes an online service that helps you block out phishing websites that have become confirmed as phishing sites, keeping your data protected around the clock with new updates on an hourly schedule. Since phishing sites only exist for 24 to 48 hours, this type of service is very critical to the protection of your personal information.

One way to limit the negative impact of phishing is to report this scam whenever you suspect it. Internet Explorer 7.0 allows you to report suspicious websites and scams directly within the browser. With this filter, you can submit the data to Microsoft who will then analyze it. If the website is confirmed as running a scam, this service adds the information to a database in order to keep the community of Internet Explorer users protected.

The technology Microsoft uses takes a different approach than black lists. The fact that phishing sites only stick around for a couple of days makes black listing a very inefficient method. Instead of simply comparing a particular URL to a list of known phishing sites, this technology has the ability determine which sites are legitimate as well. For a suspicious site with an irregular URL that may be impersonating a legitimate bank, the filter will trigger a warning to the user, suggesting that they close the web page.

Aside from the new Internet Explorer, other browsers have also implemented phishing filters into their software, including Opera and FireFox. Security vendors, such as McAfee and Symantec, have included antiphishing technology into their software as well.

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.