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A phishing attack begins with a fraudulent message, usually via email or another electronic communication method that looks like it came from someone you trust, to trick you into disclosing confidential information on a fake website or clicking a link to download malware. It gets its name from the term phreaking, a play on words derived from phone hacking where sound tones were played to free up call costs by bypassing the service provider. Phishing is one of the largest cybercrimes on the internet and often leads to BEC, ransomware, and other types of malicious attacks.

Recognizing a phishing attempt can be challenging, but a few tips and some discipline will go a long way. A good rule of thumb is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for misspellings, jumbled URLs and other red flags in any unsolicited message.

In some cases, attackers will try to create a sense of urgency by injecting fear. For example, they may tell you that your account will be suspended or your organization will shut down if you don’t respond. Attackers can also use AI voice generators to impersonate co-workers and managers to compel employees to transfer funds or reveal sensitive information.

The weakest link in any security system isn’t a flaw buried in computer code; it’s the human who doesn’t double-check where an email came from or clicks on a suspicious link. By fostering a culture of cyber awareness in your home, workplace and other environments, you can help reduce the number of people who fall victim to Phishing.