What is Phishing? Tips to Protect Yourself from Online Scams

What is phishing?
What is phishing?
Written by Brendan Smith

Phishing poses a significant risk for businesses and both individuals. It’s a kind of cyber attack that utilizes techniques of social engineering to trick users into sharing their personal information. In this article I will describe the concept of phishing, explain the process it follows, and give examples of typical frauds that involve phishing. If you are aware of what phishing is, how it works and threats and the methods to recognize these, you will be able to protect your company and yourself from harm.

What exactly is Phishing?

Phishing is a form of cyberattack in which scammers employ a variety of techniques to steal sensitive information like passwords for logins and credit card numbers or personal information. They employ the psychological trick of manipulation and social engineering methods to fool their victims. They typically pretend to be a trustworthy source like an institution, bank or social media website, or a government agency, in order to win the trust of the person they are trying to convince. After the victim is manipulated into giving their personal details, fraudsters can use it to commit crimes for example, financial fraud or identity theft.

What is Phishing? Phishing Do Its Work?

Phishing attacks exploit human weaknesses. They use manipulating the mind of victims into divulging their private information. Scammers usually employ a mix of methods, including email fraud, social engineering, and malware, to conduct their phishing attacks.

Email Spoofing

Email spoofing is an extremely popular technique employed in scams involving phishing. Scammers are able to create fake email addresses that appears to come authentic, like an institution or social media website. The emails usually include a link that will take the user to a fake web page that is similar to the genuine one. When the user logs in they will be granted the access to account.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is a different tactic used in phishing scams. Scammers disguise themselves as an authentic person like someone you know to gain their target’s confidence. They might ask the victim to click on a hyperlink or to download an attached file which could then infect their computer with malware , or send them to a fake web page that prompts users to input their personal information.

Malicious Software (Malware)

Phishing attacks may also involve the use of malware that includes keyloggers, or ransomware. Keyloggers are programs that track the user’s keystrokes, which includes their login credentials, whereas ransomware locks the victim’s data and requires payment in order to recover the data.

Brendan Smith
Brendan Smith
IT Security Expert
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Some examples of Phishing Scams

  1. Google Docs Phishing Scam In 2017 a huge scam involving phishing targeted Gmail users. It used an unauthentic Google Docs invite to trick users into surrendering access to their Gmail account. The email that was phishing was sent by an identified contact. It included a link to a Google Docs document that the user was prompted to review. By clicking on the link, the user was redirected users to fake Google login page, which collected their password and email address. The fraud affected millions of users prior to Google was able to stop the scam down.
  2. Netflix Phishing Scam A phishing scam targeting Netflix users was discovered in the year 2018. The scam was based on the sending of an email which appeared to be from Netflix inquiring users to change their billing information. The email included a hyperlink to fake Netflix login page, where users were asked to input the details of their account. The scam managed to fool many people into giving the login details and credit card details.
  3. IRS ScamPhishing Scam In 2016, a phishing fraud targeted taxpayers across the United States, using a fake email that appeared to be directly from IRS. The email contained a hyperlink to fake IRS website, which asked users to provide their social security numbers and other personal details. The scam was able fool many people into giving details that were confidential and the IRS was forced to issue an alert to taxpayers to be vigilant for scams like this.
  4. Apple Phishing Scam In 2020, an scam that aimed at Apple users with fake emails that appeared to be directly from Apple Support. The email alerted users they had been notified that their Apple ID was compromised. The email also included the link to a fake Apple login page, where the user was asked to input his or her Apple account number and password. The scam managed to get many users to give access to their login credentials that could later be used to gain access to accounts on their Apple accounts and access personal data.
  5. COVID-19 Phishing Scams In the COVID-19 epidemic, numerous scams using phishing focused on people’s fears and worries about the disease. For instance, scammers sent messages that seemed to be via The World Health Organization, asking for donations or providing details regarding the virus. When users clicked on the links within the emails could lead people to fraudulent websites where they would collect the personal details of victims. These types of scams are continuing to be a source of concern as the epidemic continues.
  6. Amazon Phishing Scam In this phishing scam, an criminal sends an email that appears to be from Amazon to inform the victim of an issue with the account, like an unresolved payment or suspicious activities. The email also contains a hyperlink that directs the user to an fraudulent Amazon account login screen, where they’re asked to input their login credentials. Once the attacker is granted access to the account of the user they can then purchase fraudulent items or even steal private information.
  7. Bank Phishing Scam During a fraud, the perpetrator will send an email to the victim that looks like it came from the bank of the victim, notifying them of the existence of a problem in their account, or a security breach. The email contains a link which takes the victim to a fake login page which prompts them to enter their login details. Once the attacker is able to access the account of the user they are able to conduct fraudulent transactions or even steal private information.
  8. PayPal Phishing Scam PayPal fraud involves sending an email that looks like it’s from PayPal and informs users of an issue in their account, for example an unauthorised transaction or security problem. The email contains a link which takes the user to an unauthentic PayPal account login screen, where they’re asked to input their login details. Once the attacker is granted access to the account they can use it to conduct fraudulent transactions, or take private information.
  9. The Social Media Phishing Fraud a phishing scam on social media an attacker will send an email or message that appears to be from a friend or a connection through a social media site like Facebook and LinkedIn. The post or message contains an link that will take the user to an authentic login page which prompts them to input the credentials for their social media account. Once the attacker is able to access the account of the user they are able to post malicious or spammy links or access personal information.
  10. The Online Retailer Phishing Scam A fraud involving phishing involves sending an email that looks like it comes from a well-known online retailer, like Walmart or Target it informs the user of the issue with their purchase or offering a special deal. The email contains a link which takes the customer to fake login pages, which prompts them to enter their login details. Once the attacker is granted access to the account of the user and is able to access the account, they can then purchase fraudulently or even steal personal data.

Types of Phishing Scams

Scams for email phishing

Frauds through email are among the most frequent forms of phishing scams. In this type of scam, fraudsters send emails that appear to come from a legitimate source, like the bank or social media platform. The emails usually contain hyperlinks that take the recipient to a fake site which is identical to the genuine one. After the user is logged in and clicks on the link, scammers gain the access to account. For instance, a fraudster could send an email saying that there is suspicious activity detected on the target’s account, and request that they click on a link in order to confirm their account details.

Spear Phishing Scams

Spear Phishing is a targeted kind of phishing attack. Scammers are able to research their targets and then create a personalised message that appears from a reliable source, for example, a coworker or manager. The message is likely to include information specific to the individual being targeted like the name of their job or recent projects. For instance, a fraudster could mail an email message to an employee of the accounting department, posing as their manager and asking the transfer of funds to a particular account.

Smishing Scams

Smishing is one type of phishing scam which uses texts or SMS messages in lieu of email. In this type of scam, fraudsters send an SMS message that appears to come from a legitimate source, like an agency or bank. The text message typically contains an address or a phone number to which the person who is targeted is instructed to dial. When the victim is able to respond or initiates contact, they might be required to supply sensitive data, like the login credentials of their account and credit card information. For instance, a fraudster might send an SMS message to the victim claiming their account at the bank is compromised and ask the victim to dial a particular number to address the issue.

CEO Fraud

CEO fraud is a kind of phishing scam which targets companies. In this scam, criminals pretend to be a high-ranking executive such as CEO, and then send the employees an email asking that they transfer money to a particular account. The emails usually contain urgent language, and could also instruct employees to remain anonymous about the request. For example, a thief might mail an employee from the finance department pretending to be the CEO, and ask the employee to transfer funds to the time-sensitive project.

Scams involving Pharming

Pharming is a form of phishing scam in which the perpetrator is redirecting the victim to a fake site without their consent. The scammer infects the victim’s computer with malware that alters the DNS settings of the computer. If the victim attempts to connect to a legitimate site like the bank’s website but is instead directed to a fake web site which is identical to the legitimate one. After the user inputs their login details then the scammers are granted access to their bank account. For instance, a scammer could infect the computer of the victim with malware and send users to a fake site in order to gain access to their online bank account.

How to Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams

  1. 🔴 Beware of messages in texts which ask you to click the link or provide private information. Always confirm the origin of the message prior to responding.
  2. 🔴 Make sure you know URL on the site you’re directed to. Scammers frequently create fake websites using URLs that resemble legitimate ones. Beware of misspellings, or even slight changes on the address.
  3. 🔴 Utilize multi-factor authentication whenever you can. This provides an additional layer of security for your accounts and will assist in preventing unauthorised access.
  4. 🔴 Make sure that your OS and software up-to-date. This can protect your account and computer from cyber-attacks, malware and other dangers.
  5. 🔴 Inform yourself and your employees about scams involving phishing. Be sure that everyone in your company is aware of the dangers and is able to spot suspicious messages.

How to Avoid Phishing Emails?

Beware of emails that are phishing. It can be challenging, however there are ways you can ensure your safety. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid being a victim of scams that use phishing to steal your information:

  1. ✔️Beware of suspicious or unwelcome emails: Watch out for emails sent by unknown senders or emails with unorthodox or suspect information, like advertisements that appear too appealing to be real or requests for personal data.
  2. ✔️ Check the address of the person sending it: Always confirm the email address of the sender to confirm that it corresponds to with the domain of the organization it claims to represent. If you suspect that the email is suspicious or comes not from a known sender, avoid clicking on any attachments or links.
  3. ✔️ Look at the hyperlinks: Beware of clicking on links that point to unknown or suspicious websites, since they could be fake websites.
  4. ✔️ Check for grammar and spelling mistakes: Phishing emails typically contain grammar and spelling errors or incoherent phrases. Genuine emails from trusted companies are generally written well and free of errors.
  5. ✔️ Don’t input personal details: Don’t provide any sensitive or personal information, like login credentials Social Security numbers, login credentials, or credit card number, when responding to emails. Companies that are legitimate will never ask for this information through email.
  6. ✔️ Utilizing two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication can secure your account from access by unauthorized persons. You should consider enabling this feature on any account online that supports it.
  7. ✔️ Make sure that your software is kept up-to-date: You should ensure that your system operating system, anti-virus software and browser for the web are current with the most current patch and security updates.
  8. ✔️ Be educated: Find out about the most common methods of phishing and keep yourself updated on most recent threats. Be aware of scams that involve phishing will help you recognize and stay clear of these scams.

If you follow these guidelines and being cautious when receiving as well as responding to messages, you will safeguard yourself from scams involving phishing. If you’re ever doubtful whether the email you receive, it’s best to be cautiously and stay clear of clicking any link or entering personal information.


Phishing is a major concern in the present day digital age. Scammers employ a variety of methods to trick people and companies into divulging private information. Understanding the nature of phishing scams and how to spot these threats, you can safeguard your business and yourself from possible danger. Be aware of unsolicited emails and check the source of any request for sensitive information. Be vigilant and remain safe.

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What Is Phishing? Guide with Examples for 2023
What Is Phishing? Guide with Examples for 2023
Protecting yourself against phishing attacks is crucial in today's digital age. Our comprehensive guide "What is Phishing and How to Protect Against It" covers everything you need to know about phishing and provides tips on how to avoid falling victim to these scams. Don't let cybercriminals steal your sensitive information or compromise your online security. Check out our guide now and stay safe online!

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About the author

Brendan Smith

I'm Brendan Smith, a passionate journalist, researcher, and web content developer. With a keen interest in computer technology and security, I specialize in delivering high-quality content that educates and empowers readers in navigating the digital landscape.

With a focus on computer technology and security, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and insights to help individuals and organizations protect themselves in the digital age. My expertise in cybersecurity principles, data privacy, and best practices allows me to provide practical tips and advice that readers can implement to enhance their online security.

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