Phishing is the name for a certain type of illegal activity that is based on luring or baiting a target with the hopes of stealing valuable personal information, often using the technique of impersonation, which is known as spoofing. Using a phone call, email, text message, or web advertisement as a lure or bait — hence the name, which is pronounced just like fishing — the scammer seeks information that will help gain money, open access to accounts and services, or be an opportunity for full-blown identity theft. A software program or software program feature that offers protection from phishing activities is called either an anti-phishing filter or a phishing filter, and though they sound like opposites, the two terms have identical meanings.
One may find a phishing filter available in several different ways. Some web browsers have a built-in phishing filter. This type of phishing filter may require that the user enable it by selecting specific preferences, or it could be enabled by default. In any case, when it is enabled, it carries out several different types of activity to protect the user. It tries to identify web forgery, another name for spoofed websites that impersonate authentic websites by means of imitation or URL, layout, content, and images. The phishing filter also works with a list of known malware and phishing sites that is stored on the user’s computer and updated frequently, but it is still important for a web user to exercise vigilance and discretion for maximum security.
A phishing filter may also be available through security software. At minimum, one brand has a phishing filter in both its anti-virus program and its Internet security software and these provide general security for computer operations and for web browsing. Another type of software offers a phishing filter specifically for a router, which is important for computer systems on a network that employs a router. It is important to keep any type of security software up-to-date for maximum effect.
Email clients, software, or suites that include email may also include a phishing filter. In addition, email blocking, or some kinds of phishing filters, may be an offering with some Internet Service Providers or web hosts. These filters have to be carefully monitored, because legitimate email that unwittingly has some features in common with phishing emails can sometimes be marked as spam. Periodically reviewing the emails being classified as junk, both through one’s client on one’s computer and at the server online, is a good practice.