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"Phishing" Is A Common Type of Cyber Crime

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On this next-to-the-last day of Cyber Security Awareness Month, we look at one type of cyber crime that has become more sophisticated over the years – phishing.  

This is when a cyber criminal pretends to be somebody else in order to get information from you. The Federal Trade Commission says phishing e-mails will often include the trusted logo of an actual company.

Jon Larsen, Systems Engineer at the AIM Institute in Omaha, says the harm from clicking on a link in a “phishing” e-mail can be considerable.

“If you click on the link, it might be taking you to a site that looks like your bank -- and if you’re entering in,  it makes it look like your log-in page, as if you’re logging into your bank, when you’re not actually logging into your real bank. And now they have the ability to log into your bank as you – because they are collecting your information through that.”

Larsen says these links can also cause malware to be loaded onto your computer – sometimes without you even knowing it.

“So, it would actually download a program onto your system, and you might click on it and think nothing happened, when actually it did happen.  And so, your system may be compromised at that point – it might copy every keystroke that you do.  So, if you are browsing a lot of sites and logging into a lot of sites, they’re getting all your log-in credentials from that.”

The Consumer Protection Bureau says banks and credit unions never ask for personal information via e-mail.

More information about phishing and on-line security can be found at consumer.ftc.gov