What is “Phishing”?

One of the biggest dangers you may experience is the increase in unsolicited emails being sent every day.  These emails are called spam (based around the foodstuff with the same name being generally unwanted) and in this case, these emails usually contain a link to a website.  Due to the fact that the email is crafted to gain a response (the subject is usually something catchy to make you open it) the name ‘phishing’, which is a play on ‘fishing’, is a good description.

It is important to never open a link or attachment in an email from someone you don’t recognise.

The link could be created in such a way that you think you are going to a safe website such as Amazon.co.uk or Microsoft.com, but in reality the link will take you somewhere completely different – like a site created to look like a proper supplier website that asks for personal information, but is actually a fake.  The logos are copied and the look and feel of the site is usually identical to the real site, except for the web site name (an example of a URL address is http://www.amazon.co.uk) which could be just slightly different e.g. www.amazzon.co.uk.

Suppliers should never ask you to log in to their site and type in any personal information in this way and it is important to always check the URL before you click on the link.  To re-emphasise.. never click on a link in an email if you don’t recognise the sender or you are not sure the link is real.

Once someone has your details such as your online banking username and password, they may be able to log in and access your bank accounts, credit cards etc.  Obviously phishing is a very common and very lucrative scheme, which continues to rise in popularity each year.  There really isn’t a magic bullet to prevent this except understanding the risks and educating yourself how to prevent yourself being phished!

Recommendations are:

  1. Don’t open any attachments if the email looks suspicious.
  2. Don’t open any attachments if you don’t recognise the sender.
  3. Make sure you have Anti-virus installed and the virus definitions are up to date.
  4. Seek help or support if you have any suspicions you have a virus or that an anti-virus scan has come up positive.

Attachments are a similar risk, but they may contain malware (a virus or trojan) which could infect your computer, tablet or phone.  More is explained in the section on Malware


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