Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Wikipedia.


("brand spoofing", "carding", after "fishing") /fishing/ Sending e-mail that claims to be from some well-known organisation, e.g. a bank, to trick the recipient into revealing information for use in identity theft. The user is told to visit a web site where they are asked to enter information such as passwords, credit card details, social security or bank account numbers. The web site usually looks like it belongs to the organisation in question and may silently redirect the user to the real web site after collecting their data.

For example, a scam started in 2003 claimed that the user's eBay account would be suspended unless he updated his credit card information on a given web site.


Pronounced "fishing," phishing is a scam to steal valuable information such as credit card and social security numbers, user IDs and passwords. Also known as "brand spoofing," an official-looking email is sent to potential victims pretending to be from their bank or retail establishment. Emails can be sent to people on any list, expecting that some percentage of recipients will actually have an account with the organization.

Email Is the "Bait"
The email states that due to internal accounting errors or some other pretext, certain information must be updated to continue service. A link in the message directs the user to a Web page that asks for financial information. The page looks genuine, because it is easy to fake a valid website. Any HTML page on the Web can be copied and modified to suit the phishing scheme. Rather than go to a Web page, another option asks the user to call an 800 number and speak with a live person, who makes the scam seem even more genuine.

Anyone Can Phish
A "phishing kit" is a set of software tools that help the novice phisher copy a target website and make mass mailings. The kit may even include lists of email addresses. See pharming, vishing, smishing, twishing and social engineering.

"Spear" Phishing and Longlining
Spear phishing is more targeted and personal because the message supposedly comes from someone in the organization everyone knows, such as the head of human resources. It could also come from a made-up name with an authoritative title such as LAN administrator. If even one employee falls for the scheme and divulges sensitive information, it can be used to gain access to more company resources.

The "longline" variant of spear phishing sends thousands of messages to the same person, expecting that the individual will eventually click a link. The longlining term comes from using a large number of hooks and bait on a long fishing line, and mobile phones are major targets for this approach.

Report a Suspected Scheme
Any suspected phishing scheme can be reported to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at
References in periodicals archive ?
38% of phishing attacks in 2016 against users of the platform were aimed at stealing financial data.
Results revealed a radical drop of careless clicking to just 13% 90 days after initial training and simulated phishing; and a steeper drop to 2% after 12 months of combined phishing and computer based training.
In the first quarter of 2017, there has been a 20 percent rise in phishing attacks over the final quarter of 2016, according to PhishLabs.
Researchers and investigators have attempted to build larger cases and demonstrate attribution through a number of techniques including phishing kits, drop email addresses, domain name registration, clustering algorithms, traditional investigative tradecraft, open source intelligence, and subpoenas.
1 A phishing wildcard is a set of symbols describing a group of links detected by the system as phishing links.
For example, about 60 per cent of all phishing attacks using fake bank pages exploited the names of just 25 organisations.
8220;The best way to protect people against phishing is to enable humans to distinguish legitimate entities from fraudulent ones, regardless of how the phishing solicitation reaches them, or what technologies are utilized behind the scenes.
What are the key observations of your latest Phishing report for India and Middle East?
During the last year there have also been confirmed reports of two large-scale phishing attacks on the well known facebook.
Spammed phishing attacks have become notorious in 2006 as phishers continued their release of phishing email messages, primarily (and most worryingly) using financial brands.
Spam filters help reduce the number of phishing e-mails you get, while firewalls can prevent unauthorized entry and hacking into your computer.