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It can be dangerous navigating the Internet waters. There are plenty of predators who are trying to steal your money, identity, or computer's operability. But, if you know what steps to take and what things to avoid, you can swim these waters safely and successfully.
Snopes.com defines phishing as "a term which refers to the online imitation of a company's branding in spoofed email messages and web sites, created with the intent of fooling unsuspecting users into divulging personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, PINs, etc. A typical "phish" email will appear to come from a financial institution (such as a bank or credit card company), informing the recipient that some type of problem has affected his account and directing him to follow a provided hyperlink to clear up the problem. The hyperlink leads not to a legitimate site, however, but to a server (usually in another country) on which an imitation web site has been set up. The fooled customer is then prompted to enter confidential personal information (collected by the scammers for perpetrating) identify theft and (usually) redirected to a legitimate web site to obscure the fact that he just gave away data to crooks."
Phishing sites can also include malicious elements that are intended to take advantage of web browser vulnerabilities. Even if you don't enter personal information on the spoofed web site, you could be putting your computer's security in danger simply by clicking on the link in the spoofed message. The best way to protect yourself from phishing scams is to never click on the link in an unexpected or suspicious message you receive.
The Internet has made the world a much smaller place. While its benefits are tremendous, connecting us to others and to volumes of instant information on any subject anywhere in the world, its downside includes dark alleys frequented by criminals intent on harming you, your computer, and/or your information.
In the physical world, it used to be that you knew which dark alleys or bad neighborhoods to avoid. Today the Internet, with all its benefits, has also brought the dark alleyways to your computer. As such, it takes much more vigilance to protect yourself and your computer from would-be criminals.