What is Phishing?

Most people use the Internet and email services on a daily basis, but have very little understanding of how they actually work. This is not shameful or uncommon. It is however dangerous. With the lack of understanding of how these tools work, there is also a lack of understanding of how the criminals who troll the sources function. It is almost impossible for the average individual to really grasp the intimate details, but the basics of the crimes can be understood. The first question that one should ask to protect oneself from a phishing scam is simply: what is phishing?

The Basics of the Concept

What is phishing? Phishing is a way in which online criminals will try to gain access to personal details that may be of use to them. They will use various ways to do this. These range from the absolute simplest method: by asking you for your details. As Internet users have begun to ask the question “what is phishing?” they have also become more aware of the most common scams and therefore criminals have developed more fool proof methods.

What do Phishers Look For?

When asking the question “what is phishing?” one would naturally also ask what phishers look for. Phishers look for any personal information that they can get. The more information they get the more that they can do with it. Obviously, information pertaining to financial institutions is the very valuable and they would like to get their hands on it. The most valuable details that a phisher would be interested in are the account number or username details with corresponding passwords and/or PIN numbers for online banking institutions. This includes online payment methods such as Escrow and Paypal. Credit Card details are priceless too, especially if the criminal can get hold of the card number, expiry date, card holder’s name and the precious numbers that are printed on the back of the card which are known as the CVV or CVC code.

Can Phishers Make Use of Just One Piece of Information?

In reality the answer is no, but one piece of information can give aggressive criminals ammunition to use against you. For example, by having your bank account number, they could more easily disguise themselves and make themselves seem credible when targeting you for a second attack in order to access more information.

Phishing Statistics

Even with the average Internet user asking the question, “what is phishing?” and therefore showing an awareness to the crime, the statistics of phishing are still quite frightening and on the rise. According to Ariva.com, the most targeted country is the USA who fall victim to 42% of the world phishing scams. Europe sees 32% of them, with the Middle East, South America and Africa seeing 10%, 6% and 4% accordingly. TRACElabs show that the Bank of America is the largest target with 32.28% of phishing scams aimed at their clients. All the other major targets consist of financial institutions too.