What Does PHISHING Mean in a Text?

PHISHING is a "Fraudulent Attempt to Obtain Sensitive Information."

PHISHING is a fraudulent technique used by criminals to induce individuals to disclose sensitive information (e.g., usernames, passwords, bank and credit card details) by masquerading as a reputable entity or person. PHISHING is most often carried out by email, but also by SMS and IM, as well as over the telephone.

A PHISHING message will typically direct the target to a fake website where they will be encouraged to enter personal information, or may include an attachment that installs malware onto the user's device.

Although some PHISHING emails are poorly written and obviously fake, many are difficult to spot. Cyber criminals are becoming adept at mimicking the look of genuine companies (e.g., by using logos from the spoofed company's website and by copying the company's fonts and writing style). They also employ proven marketing techniques to improve the "open" or "click-through" rates of their emails. A common PHISHING technique is to reference something that seems personal, such as a recent purchase, a subject in which the target may have shown an interest on social media, or something particularly relevant to people with the target's profile.

Cyber criminals will also buy domain names that look similar to a genuine company's domain, so the links in their emails appear legitimate. For example:
Real SiteFake Site
(This is called "Typosquatting".)

They will also disguise the fake URL by using JavaScript.

The different types of PHISHING include SPEAR PHISHING (a PHISHING attack aimed at a specific individual or company), WHALING (a PHISHING attack aimed at a senior executive), CLONE PHISHING (a PHISHING attack that closely mimics a legitimate company's communications), and VISHING (a PHISHING attack that uses voice technology).

Image for PHISHING

When I write PHISHING, I mean this:

meaning of PHISHING

PHISHING is an online scam used to gain sensitive information.

Summary of Key Points

"Fraudulent Attempt to Obtain Sensitive Information" is the most common definition for PHISHING on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:Fraudulent Attempt to Obtain Sensitive Information
Type:Slang Word (Jargon)
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Examples of PHISHING in Sentences

Here is an example of PHISHING being used in a conversation:
  • Toni: Do you think this is a genuine email?
  • Ray: No, I think they're PHISHING. The punctuation looks strange and it didn't give your name at the start.
  • Paul: I've won the lottery and I don't even remember buying a ticket!
  • Jo, Ha ha. That's a PHISHING message. I bet they want your bank details so they can send you your winnings, no?

An Academic Look at PHISHING

PHISHING is a neologism (i.e., a newly coined word or phrase). It is a homophone of the word "fishing."

What Did We Say before Texting and Social Media?

Before the digital era, activities such as PHISHING were known as confidence tricks.

Example of PHISHING Used in a Text

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This page is maintained by the Cyber Definitions Editorial Team.

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