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Phishing is a form of electronic fraud that uses a variety of social networking and email techniques to target victims. It can be used to compromise financial, personal and company data.

The most common phishing scams involve malicious emails that appear to come from your bank, online payment service, or other reputable institution. These messages may ask for your account ID, password, or other sensitive information. They can also lead to viruses and malware infections on your computer, or install keystroke loggers that record your keyboard activity.

Some phishing attacks are targeted at specific groups, such as university students or employees. In these cases, the sender often poses as a trusted contact, such as a student advisor, faculty member or staff member.

These phishing messages may use the name, logo, and other trademarks of the organization to fool people into believing they are legitimate. They also may include a fake URL that leads to an infection.

Spear phishing is an advanced form of phishing that tries to gather personal or private information from people in order to create a false relationship. Attackers can target someone’s social media accounts to find their name, address and other identifying information, and then send personalized, targeted messages that are more likely to be accepted.

One of the best ways to avoid phishing attacks is to always review the privacy policies of websites you submit your personal information to. It’s also a good idea to opt out of mailing lists and never give your email address to anyone you don’t know.