Passage 2: Questions 46-50
Nowadays, most people realize that it’s risky to use credit card numbers online. However, from
time to time, we all use passwords and government ID numbers on the Web. We think we are safe,
but that may not be true! A new kind of attack is being used by dishonest people to steal IDs and
credit card numbers from innocent websurfers
This new kind of attack is called “phishing.” Phishing sounds the same as the word “fishing,”
and it implies a thief is trying to lure people into giving away valuable information. How can
phishers lure people to do this? Like real fishermen, they use bait in the form of great online deals
or services. For example, phishers might use fake emails and false websites to con people into
revealing credit card numbers, account usernames, and passwords. They imitate well-known banks,
online sellers, and credit card companies. Successful phishers may convince as many as 5 percent of
the people they contact to respond and give away their personal financial information.
Is this really a big problem? Actually, tricking 5 percent of the online population is huge!
Currently, more than 350 million people have access to the Internet, and 75 percent of those Internet
users live in the wealthiest countries on Earth. It has been estimated that phishers send more than 3
billion scam messages each year. Even by tricking only 5 percent of the people, phishers can make a
lot of money.
Since there is so much money to make through this kind of scam, it has caught the interest of
more than just small-time crooks. Recently, police tracked down members of an organized phishing
group in Eastern Europe who had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from people online. The
group created official-looking email messages requesting people to update their personal
information at an international bank’s website. However, the link to the bank in the message
actually sent people to the phishers’ fake website. To make matters worse, further investigation
revealed that this group had connections with a major crime gang in Russia.
How can innocent websurfers protect themselves? Above all, they have to learn to recognize
email that has been sent by a phisher. Always be wary of any email with urgent requests for
personal financial information. Phishers typically write upsetting or exciting (but fake) statements
in their emails so that people will reply right away. Also, messages from phishers will not address
recipients by name because they really don’t know who the recipients are yet. On the other hand,
valid messages from your bank or other companies you normally deal with typically include your