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Phishing means trying to get valuable data from unsuspecting people - for example bank account passwords. A successful phishing attack is comprised of spam, a spoofed website and the means to take the information from a victim and steal money or an identity for personal gain.

Typically, in a phishing scam, spam is sent out to potential victims spoofing a bank or other online financial organization. The victim clicks on a link redirecting him to a fraudulent website pretending to the bank or financial institution. A few recipients fall for the unsuspected scam by giving out personal information to the phisher by filling out the information on the fraudulent website. Sometimes the spoofed website contains malware that an unsuspecting victim may accidentally download on his computer. This is a very big reason to state that it is potentially harmful to click on a phishing website URL because of this threat.

According to Anti-Phishing Workshop Group, the most spoofed organization is PayPal.

There are different types of phishing methods. One current prolific phishing method is called Rockphish.

Compromised Hosting Accounts
Some phishing attacks are man-in-the-middle compromises. This can happen when one's own PC is compromised. The victim uses his computer and enters his URL to the bank. The hosts file may have been manipulated without the victim's knowledge, directing him to a phishing site instead of his bank - even by typing in the known URL. This attack is known as DNS manipulation. It's possible to direct traffic of a certain domain name - let's say of a bank - to the phishers' site that tries to look identical. So, it's advisable to check credentials whenever you use your network bank or other confidential site, and it may be preferable to use services that use disposable (one-time) passwords if available.

Fraudulent Domain Purchases
Another method of creating phishing website is purchasing a fraudulent domain which appears similar to a organization being spoofed. One example used was a fraudulent domain called: for Phishers typically use stolen credit cards to buy fraudulent domains on webhosts, usually reseller accounts. Sometimes they use the victim's information for the contact when signing up with a host. While at other times they may use false information.

Known Phishing Operations

  • Examples of phishing URLs

Additional Reading

Phishing Exposed By Lance James and Blog on Amazon
Anti-Phishing Workshop Group
Wikipedia article

Articles on Phishing

Mr-Brain: Stealing Phish from Fraudsters