Phishing is an innovative way in which criminals are now stealing all kinds of personal data on the Internet. It has been noted that from 5 percent to 20 percent of individuals per year are victims of this type of scam.

Phishing is a method used by computer hackers to steal your personal information only for the reason of identity theft. The way in which they steal your information is by using fraudulent emails that appear to be from companies you know and trust. They often fool you into giving them information such as your social security number, your bank account number, other account number, and your passwords to various accounts online.

Bypassing Computer Security

Computer security generally focuses on preventing malware, which is software that attacks various faults in your computer with the ultimate intent to take control of it and then hand over that control to someone else. Malware is often very sophisticated software that has the ability to quietly and often unnoticed, take over a computer.

From there, the software can do virtually anything malicious the imagination can dream up, for example:

However, novel malware is difficult to write. It can take many highly paid hours for some highly talented programmers to find or buy a security flaw allowing the criminal to get their malware onto another person's computer undetected. That can be very expensive, costing a lot of money and in many cases can leave a trail back to the malware's authors.

Phishing, on the other hand, does not attack computers. It attacks people using computers.

Creating a phishing website is something a novice can do in a short space of time and it works. If a person wanted to create a phishing version of this article, for example, they could begin by saving the complete webpage from their browser.

Doing that could get the pictures, text and back-end code that makes the page you're looking at right now. If this page contained an account login, the person could put it on a server they control. They could even register another domain with a similar name to this and load up the copied page so it looks the same.

If they could then entice a visitor to try to use that username on their spoof domain's website, they would then have that information.

How to Protect Yourself Against Phishers

The last thing you need is to become a victim of "phishers" when all you want is to attract good into your life. Learn how to protect yourself from their advances.

The main rule of thumb for protecting yourself against these hackers is to always ensure you are communicating with the trusted company and not a dummy website that looks like the real one. Pay close attention to the address you are going to and if in doubt call the company direct.

These hackers know how to duplicate a website to look like the original, so you have to become smarter than the hackers or become another one of their victims. Install a firewall on your computer. This can also aid in keeping hackers out of your computer.

Developing some good habits based on how your computer works is fairly easy and effective. Turn on two-factor authentication wherever you can, if it is available on websites you use. Allow your computer to install periodic software updates whenever it needs to, in order to keep its internal security systems up to date.

Above all, remain vigilant, aware and actively on the lookout for anything that simply doesn't look right.