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This is still a subject that you really need to keep on top of. It requires a bit of knowledge to minimise or hopefully keep the risk to the absolute minimum.

Requests for personal and financial information can come from eMail, web pages, telephone and probably even snail mail.


This is where the majority of the phishing comes from, so a good spam filter installed in your system will minimise what you see. You will have probably received eMails requesting you to confirm your online banking details, and if the first one you get is for your bank, it's a possibility you might just click the link in the eMail and start filling in the form.

These eMails are sent out for just about every bank in the UK and North America, and any website/company that deals in money, ie, PayPal, eBay. Have also seen German ones, but they are rare, probably meant to be directed at german email addresses

Even just clicking on a link could cause you some trouble. So here are some tips to limit this.

Your email program and web browser have a status bar, this normally allows you to place your mouse cursor over any printed link in an email or a web browser and show the link in the status bar. If it doesn't have a secure prefix, ie, https:// as against the normal http:// you should be very wary. Your status bar may be turned off, to turn it on, it's usually in the "View" menu.

When accessing the main page of most financial institutions you may only see an http:// link , but you should find that once you click on the "login" button, you are diverted to a secure page. This should then have "https://" at the extreme left of the address/URL bar at the top of your browser window, and with Internet Explorer 7 a lock should appear just to the right of the address bar. With Firefox 2 this is on the right of the address bar and the status bar.

The phishing sites may get flagged by your web browser, but there is always a small delay before this happens. And new phishing sites spring up very quickly, it can be done for about $20, and they are probably using a stolen credit card anyway.

The sites also look very, very similar to the site they are mimicing. But if you look at the address it won't have "https" at the beginning and will look something like "" where the last part in bold, also gives an indication it's dodgy. Most of the sites seen recently appear to be of chinese origin.

Any eMail offering cheap software, drugs, etc. Will probably mean you have got listed on a spammers list also, and if you go to the site and order they are unlikely to direct you to a secure site for you to put your credit card details in. This is just another way to collect your credit card information.


As well as getting linked from eMails, you may somehow find yourself on a dodgy site, maybe because of clicking on a link resulting from a search engine request.

Unfortunately normally clean sites get hacked sometimes and virus and trojans are loaded on to the site and linked to it's pages, so the unsuspecting surfer downloads them without having any idea they are there.

This is where you need all your virus and spyware checkers, as well as windows and your personal firewall to be up todate all the time.

Telephone and Snail Mail:

These are usually attempts at social engineering, trying to get you too buy something, stocks and other investments, where you are asked to supply your bank or credit card details to start or complete the transaction.