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Phishing (pronounced fishing) is a fraudulent attempt by an attacker or cybercriminal to steal your personal information stored on your computer or device, like login details, bank passwords or pins and other valuable data. The attacker masquerades as a legitimate or reputable entity via email or other communication channels. The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments that can perform a variety of malicious functions on your computer or device.
Phishing emails usually appear to come from a well-known organization or sender and ask for your personal information, such as credit card number, ID number, account number or password.

So, how can you spot phishing emails? Below are some tips and what to look out for when viewing your emails.

  • Look at the email address – there are 2 parts to the sender email address that you see, the display name of the sender and the actual email address. For example you get an email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the display name is Microsoft Support. You can double click on the email address to display the full sender email information. If you see a long string of numbers in front of the @ sign or the name of a free email service before the .com (or any other domain name after the @ sign), then this should raise some alarms and you need to question the legitimacy of the email.
  • Look at the greeting – When you receive a legitimate email the sender would normally address you directly either using your first name or last name. If they refer to you as valued customer or the email just says greetings or Hi, then its most likely spam. Senders of legitimate emails want to get your attention, so they would always address you directly.
  • Look at the content – Be wary of emails that include links or contained unrecognizable file type attachments. Most would tell you what is required or what to do in the email and wont direct you to do it in a link. You can hover your mouse over the link to see where the link is directing you, take care when doing this to avoid accidently clicking or opening the link. Grammatical and spelling errors within the body of an email are good signs that it’s spam. Attackers don t care enough about the actual messages they’re sending to take the time to make them make sense.
  • Look at the content – Be wary of emails that include links or contained unrecognizable file type attachments. Most would tell you what is required or what to do in the email and wont direct you to do it in a link. You can hover your mouse over the link to see where the link is directing you, take care when doing this to avoid accidently clicking or opening the link. Grammatical and spelling errors within the body of an email are good signs that it’s spam. Attackers don t care enough about the actual messages they’re sending to take the time to make them make sense.

Don’t believe everything you see. Phishers or cybercriminals are extremely good at what they do. Just because an email has convincing brand logos, language, and a seemingly valid email address, does not mean that it’s legitimate. Be skeptical when it comes to your email messages, if it looks even remotely suspicious, apply the tips above or even contact the sender or organization that the email came from to verify its legitimacy.

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