Phishing Meaning: Here’s What It Is and How To Use It

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

We have another exciting word for you today: phishing. While it’s pronounced the same as the fun aquatic activity, they don’t quite have the same meaning. 

Phishing is a form of internet fraud performed by hackers; it’s something you should try and steer clear of. Here is some information about phishing, what it means, and even tips on avoiding becoming a victim of these cybercriminals. 

What Is the Definition of Phishing?

Phishing is a type of fraud where internet users are tricked (through deceptive emails) to rely on sensitive information that can be used illicitly. The hacker depends on social networking skills to gain personal information and then will pose as a reputable person or organization and press for personal information such as financial information like account numbers and credit card numbers. Phishing is too common in today’s cyber-world, which is why cyber-security should be taken as seriously as ever. 

These scammers usually strike via email messages, social media, or SMS. They gain access by extracting personal details by formulating something called a phishing email, phishing message, or voice phishing. 

Phishers use fraudulent emails and messages as the hacker will pose as a reputable source, like your bank. These lures will create a sense of urgency, leaving the victim confused. Often, they will send over sensitive data like login credentials without thinking twice about it. 

Phishing attacks and scams can result in identity theft, stolen bank account information, and more.

What Is the Origin of Phishing?

Hacking started as early as the 90s but has become much more prevalent. The first phishers were a part of an online hacking group called the warez community. 

These hackers would pose as AOL workers and use these fraudulent credentials to extract information from AOL members. AOL was once the leading internet provider with over 1 million users — this grabbed the attention of hackers worldwide. 

Initially, these phishers used stolen user details like usernames and passcodes to develop an algorithm that could generate random credit card numbers. Once AOL cracked down on its security, the hackers had to find an alternative way to get the information they needed. 

Soon the hackers took to spoof emails (or phishing emails) to keep up with AOLs demanding security systems. Since hacking had never been an issue, these hackers were very successful as people were as skeptical as they once were.

Phishing is derived from the word fishing. Just as fishermen fish for sea creatures, these hackers’ fish for sensitive information.The creator of the Blue Box, John Draper, coined the term phishing, which means the technique of hacking telecommunication systems.

What Are the Main Types of Phishing Attacks?

Since awareness surrounding cyber security and cyber-attacks, these cybercriminals have had to get creative. Phishing attempts were made strictly over the phone or through text messages, but today phishers have found more accessible ways to obtain sensitive information.

Email Phishing

Recently, the most common form of phishing is email phishing. Malicious links are sent via email to potential victims. These emails are very deceptive as they pose as legitimate websites or personal. 

The link will bring you to a malicious website where something called malware is installed into your device automatically, or the website will ask for authentication information. The hacker can potentially gain access to your personal accounts like Amazon, PayPal, financial institutions, and more.

While most people can spot a fake website, suspicious email, or text message easily, that’s not always the case. Most of the time, these emails are poorly written and clearly fake or are caught by spam filters, but sometimes they’re not. 

Some phishing websites are very well done, and the phishers will conduct extensive research called phishing campaigns on specific individuals making these attacks seem legitimate.

It’s important to report phishing when you see it. So, If you spot a phishing email, gmail, or text message, be sure to report the message and then block the sender.

Can You Prevent Phishing?

Yes, phishing is preventable. There are many ways to avoid fraud. 

If you’re very uninformed on phishing, how it works, and the ways it can affect you, we suggest security awareness training. Many companies have their employees take these courses to avoid any chance of getting hacked by a phishing email. But you can also take other precautions like

  • Antivirus software
  • Desktop and network firewalls
  • Anti Spyware software
  • Anti Phishing toolbar
  • Gateway email filter
  • Web security gateway
  • A spam filter
  • Phishing filters from vendors such as Microsoft

What Are Some Examples of Phishing?

Knowing what phishing looks like is the first step to avoiding it.

Spotting a Phishing email or message can be super easy if you know what you’re looking for. Here are some things that may mean the email you’re reading is fraudulent.

  • The email or message uses subdomains, misspelled URLs (typosquatting), or suspicious URLs
  • The sender uses a Gmail account instead of a corporate email
  • The message shows extreme urgency or is clearly meant to invoke fear
  • The message asks for verification information like passwords or bank information
  • The message is poorly written and filled with grammatical errors


Phishing is where hackers use malicious links and websites through phishing emails to gain sensitive, personal information from potential victims of fraud. 

Thousands of people are victims of fraud and identity theft each year through phishing. It is important to be careful when you’re using any type of social media or internet apps, as there are always hackers waiting on the other end of your server. The best thing you can do is have enough knowledge of phishing and learn new ways to avoid it. 


What Is Phishing? |

Phishing Definition & Meaning |

phishing – Glossary | CSRC