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Monday, February 18th, 2008

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a type of computer fraud in which scammers fake the identity of a trustworthy entity by manipulating electronic communication, in order to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting victims. Phishing scams have become more prevalent in recent years, and more people are likely to have come in contact with such attempts.

Phishing scams can arrive in a variety of forms, and some are easier to spot than others. Whether in the text of the email itself, or on a website that you are directed to, at some point, they will request information. Phishing scams often target credit card or social security numbers, as well as account usernames and passwords. They will say basically anything to lure you into providing any personal information that could be used to steal your identity, empty your bank account, or ruin your credit.

Typical Charateristics of Phishing Scams

Phishing emails will often contain spelling errors or awkward grammar, and make suspicious claims or requests. An example could be a supposed email from your financial institution, which begins with a dramatic statement like, “Your account has been compromised,” rather than a normal greeting that states your name upfront. Scam emails might look a lot like the other emails you’ve received from your bank, with their correct email as the sender address, and their logo prominently displayed, but this does not mean they’re safe.

Phishing scammers have the ability to fake, or “spoof”, the senders email to make it appear as though the message is arriving from a legitimate source. As well, they will often provide a link that seems to direct you towards an established address with a professional layout. However, this welcoming appearance and false sense of security is all apart of the ploy to defraud you of your valuable information.

How to Spot a Phishing Scam

An easy way to spot a fake is to carefully check where the link you clicked has actually sent you. Or to be safe, inspect the link by hovering over it with your cursor before you click. If the address is different than what they claim it is, such as a numbered address, or part of a free hosting service such as Tripod or Geocities, it is more than likely a phishing scam.

You should always be skeptical when a company is requesting information that you have already provided, or information that is not necessary, or that they would not need. If you ever have any doubts, you should verify the email with the company by typing their email address or website manually, rather than clicking a hyperlink. If you discover that an email is a phishing scam, you should report the message to the company the scammers are imitating.

Phishing Protection

Secure IE Browser Security is the only browser on the market today that was specifically designed with Internet users’ security as the primary concern.  Secure IE utilizes multiple lines of defense to protect you from phishing scams and other computer fraud.

Secure IE’s unique approach to online security:

Phishing Protection Software

  • New! Integrated McAfee Site Advisor warns of dangerous Web sites, places safety ratings alongside search results, and provides a site’s safety rating upon request.
  • Seal up security gaps with our automatic security tune-up.
  • Stop Spyware (which is often used in computer fraud) at the point of entry with out exclusive Browser Shield.
  • Automatically blocks Malicious ActiveX, which hackers and identity thieves will use to gain entrance to your PC and commit computer fraud.
  • Block Pop-ups, including Windows Messenger pop-ups.
  • One click access to security zones, which allow you to designate which websites get certain privileges.
  • Intercepts Malicious File Downloads and scans for viruses (requires virus-scanning software).
  • Stay one step ahead of hackers with built in auto-updates.

For more information, see Secure IE Browser Security

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