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How-To Geek

Phishing

Phishing is when hackers or scammers attempt to steal personal information like usernames, passwords, or credit cards by pretending to be somebody else, usually through email or other electronic communications. They might send a fake email that appears to be from your bank, Paypal, Facebook, or any number of other services, and then try to get you to enter your login details or even your credit card or bank information.

The first time the term Phishing was actually used was in 1995, during a period of time when AOL was fighting against warez (illegal software downloads) and many scammers were trying to trick people into giving up their account details so they could then use the accounts for fraudulent reasons. According to Wikipedia, AOL developed a system to check the chat logs for illegal accounts, but they were unable to filter the code <>< because it is used in the underlying HTML–since it looked like a fish, the hackers started calling it phishing.

Phishing is still a problem today, although every major web browser provides some protection against it, and most email providers now flag emails coming from the wrong sources and won’t let you click any links in the email. The best protection against phishing is common sense, and realize that your bank is never going to ask you to confirm your credit card number through an email. You should also be sure to check the address bar for the padlock icon that indicates a secure site, and type in the URL to your bank in the address bar, rather than click on a link in an email.

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