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Phishing is a cyber attack that tricks victims into sharing sensitive information with attackers. This is a form of social engineering and often uses a sense of urgency, such as warning that a user’s account will be suspended or funds will disappear, to prompt victims to act without fully thinking about the situation. Attackers can then use the information obtained through phishing to steal money or credentials, install malware on their victim’s device, or both.

Typically, phishing attacks are sent to individual users through email or other online channels, such as instant messaging or text messages. Emails are especially dangerous because they can be easily disguised and contain malicious links that can install malware on the user’s device. In addition to a sense of urgency, other telltale signs that an email is not legitimate include poor grammar or spelling errors. Professionally written emails from reputable companies should always be free of these mistakes and should contain appropriate language and tone for the intended audience.

Emails claiming to come from financial institutions and other organizations should also be suspicious, as these organizations will never ask for login credentials or other private information through email. Similarly, crypto exchanges should never request private keys or other personal information through email, as this could result in theft of cryptocurrency. If a user suspects they have provided sensitive information to a criminal, they should immediately contact their bank or credit card company, who can freeze the victim’s account to prevent unauthorized purchases.