Phishing is a growing form of cybercrime that seeks to covertly siphon an individual’s private data by fraudulently posing as a legitimate organization. Criminals then utilize this information to access private accounts, carry out identity fraud or make charges on your accounts. While relatively new, this type of attack is increasingly causing havoc on individuals and businesses.

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Defining Phishing Attacks

This specific type of cybercrime utilizes mediums like text messages, e-mails or telephone calls to contact a victim. The phisher pretends to be a legitimate organization or business to entice the victim to reveal sensitive data. These criminals most often ask for data like account numbers, credit card numbers, passwords to your online accounts or banking details. Once the unsuspecting victim provides the requesting information, the phisher uses the information to commit other crimes like identity fraud. The term “phishing” itself stems from the word ‘fishing’ because criminals similarly throw out bait to unsuspecting victims and fish for information. These types of crimes are relatively new. The first lawsuit regarding phishing occurred as recently as 2004, but modern-day criminals are increasingly committing similar online crimes.

Infamous Scams

One of the most infamous and damaging examples of this type of crime occurred on May 12, 2017. The WannaCry Virus was spread to hundreds of small businesses when they inadvertently clicked on an e-mail scam containing a worm. The worm exploited a vulnerability within Microsoft’s software and completely shut down the impacted systems. Multiple businesses were forced into paying the cybercriminals the ransom money to restore access to important business information.

Another more common form of this crime is the W-2 tax season swindle. Criminals will send out fake e-mails or threatening telephone messages to individuals in the hopes of gaining access to their credit card details. They pretend to be official IRS agents, but the legitimate federal agency would always send an official document by mail. Hundreds of individuals fall victim to this scam every year.

Protect Your Data

Ironscale’s dedicated research reveals that an overwhelming 95 percent of successful ccyber attacksare typically initiated through these fraudulent data scams. It’s crucial for internet users to be aware of these types of scams and proactively fight against them. Never input your email address, banking information, address or other personal data into a website or over the phone unless you are sure that the organization is authentic.

One giveaway that a website or company may not be legitimate is an unusual sense of urgency about providing your details. Any authentic organization that isn’t trying to pull one over on you will be happy to give you time to consider the purchase and think about your options. Another important tip to keep in mind is to consider whether the deal seems too good to be true. Phishers often rely on fake promises and discounts to increase their profits. Always check the website’s URL, company name and other information for misspellings or errors. Phishers will frequently use a fake URL such as ‘’ or ‘’ in the hopes victims will overlook the errors and input their login information.

ZDNet estimates that an astonishing 1.4 million websites devoted to scamming victims out of their private data were being created monthly in 2017. This disturbing trend should alert all internet users to be more cautious and aware of the latest types of phishing scams.