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Phishing is a form of social engineering in which attackers lure victims into providing confidential information through email, text messages, phone calls or illegitimate websites. The goal is to steal passwords, usernames and other sensitive data.

The success of phishing depends on how convincing the attack is. Typically, it starts with an email that looks like a message from a legitimate company. But it isn’t enough to use a generic logo and spoof the sender address. Hackers also try to create a sense of urgency and compel the victim to click on links or attachments.

Some phishing attacks are so successful that they even fool users into giving out their bank account details and credit card numbers. However, most companies will not send such an email or ask for this type of personal information through a link in the message.

Preventing phishing requires both strong user training and robust cybersecurity systems to stop payloads. This includes email filters, multi-factor authentication, firewalls and other security measures to prevent phishing attempts.

Employees should be trained to recognize the warning signs of a phishing attack and not respond to any email, text or call that claims to be from a legitimate institution. They should also avoid clicking any link in the message, and if they do, verify that it’s from an official email address.

Phishing schemes are evolving as the cybercriminal landscape evolves, but they all follow a common pattern. They begin with a fraudulent email that resembles a legitimate one, then coaxes the victim to provide confidential information through a web page or download malware onto their computer.