Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The word is a neologism created as a homophone of fishing due to the similarity of using a bait in an attempt to catch a victim.
Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website, the look and feel of which are identical to the legitimate site, the only difference being the URL of the website in concern. Communications purporting to be from social websites, auction sites, banks, online payment processors or IT administrators are often used to lure victims. Phishing emails may contain links to websites that distribute malware.
Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to deceive users, and exploits weaknesses in current web security. Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures.