The internet age has its own pitfalls and flaws revealing the murkier side of technology loopholes, phishing websites being one of the top rated internet scams. An overview of the growing need to report phishing websites is given here:
What are phishing websites?
Understanding the nature and operating techniques of phishing websites will throw light on how and why to report phishing websites. As the name suggests, a phishing website is a fake website, created by internet scammers who have one or more of the following criminal motives in mind:
- To lure innocent and the not so tech-savvy internet users to visit phishing websites
- To make them download, inadvertently, malicious software into their mobile devices or PCs
- To install malicious applications like keystroke logger which record the patterns in which users strike keys in order to fathom passwords and other credentials.
- To manipulate, sell or to perpetrate internet fraud using the stolen credentials.
- To misrepresent the user in all fronts, causing financial and reputational damage to individuals and corporate internet users.
The common forms of internet frauds that occur and spread, when one does not report phishing websites include online payments fraud, bank fraud, unethical hacking, cyber extortion and so on.
The need to report phishing websites
The cognizance of internet crime is still at its infancy, even in developed countries. The Javelin Strategy and Research in its study of identity fraud in the US, has stated that a shocking 16 billion USD were ripped off 15.4 million consumers. The figure in itself and a time series analysis of internet fraud in US are enough reasons to report phishing websites, in addition to the following:
- Phishing websites resort to illegal data mining. It is not limited to thieving on personal information like identity details (name, date of birth, SSN etc., known as personally identifiable information) alone.
- To report phishing websites is equally necessitated by identity theft aimed at businesses, which are storehouses of financial information of their vast client database. Data theft in such cases will result in security breach of confidential client data leading to serious damage of reputation and costs associated with legal suits, if any.
- Online shopping portals are also places where internet scammers misrepresent as phishing websites and lead shoppers to their fake portals. Once the shoppers enter their financials credentials, not only are they cheated of their purchased items but the stolen credentials are used to commit bigger financial fraud.
- Conning techniques of phishing and spoofing use data of thousands of employees stored by people-intensive organizations such as schools, universities and hospitals.
Must the aged also report phishing websites?
The common myth against aged people’s effort to report phishing websites are that they are comparatively infrequent users of internet and will be less prone to phishing attacks. However, the statement is far from true. Phishing websites have every reason to con the aged, as under:
- The aged population represents a large proportion of people who are physically weak, but are left with hefty amounts of their life-time savings, in the nature of fixed deposits, retirement benefits received, and the like.
- To report phishing websites becomes necessary when scammers approach them with lucrative, too-good-to-be-true savings and pension schemes, promising the financial security and liberty, only to recover access details and rip them off their savings.
- Another type of phishing websites extends business and job opportunities to the ages, who are more than willing to take up such offers that promise financials independence.
- Fake charities that try to usurp the savings of the aged people who wish extend their philanthropic support for needy causes. These charities make use of phishing websites that misrepresent the websites of famous charities that have won public trust.
In all the above cases, failure to report phishing websites will lead to the scammers fleeing beyond effective reach of law enforcers.
The cost of failure to report phishing websites
Phishing websites target all strata of population including students, working executives, businesses and even software professionals. Various federal and non-profit organizations are actively engaged in cybercrime prevention. They have modified and made the attempts to report phishing websites much easier than before. Still, there exist laxity and neglect in doing the same. The consequences of not taking steps to prevent the closing down phishing websites include:
- Personal financial damage. Using phishing websites, identity theft is committed and financial accounts of people are exposed to online financial fraud.
- Opening of bank accounts, credit lines, mortgages as well as collection of receivables by misrepresenting individuals and businesses will increase.
- Businesses lose heavily by way of data hijacking through malware installed by way of accessing phishing websites.
- Phishing websites are a challenge to privacy and represent a rude intrusion into personal and official emails and documents that are confidential.
The non financial consequences
Reporting phishing websites is ideal in order to prevent emotional damages to people. Phishing websites are notorious for data theft from internet users.
The following consequences necessitate tough action on phishing websites.
- As discussed earlier, the repute of an organization will be at risk if confidential data, especially those belonging to clients and customers are hacked into. In many cases businesses may have to face litigations and law suits for data breach.
- The non financial consequence includes unscrupulous rival organizations, is a desire to wipe out competition or out of a vindictive attitude to settle scores on personal or corporate rivalry.
- Phishing websites lure the youth to subscribe for dating services and friendship clubs, which are in reality, phishing websites that would rob their personal information. Romance scammers use phishing websites to trespass the privacy of their dating partners. They may win the trust of innocent people and may gain access to images and videos, only to use them for emotional coercion and threat.
These are only a few important consequences of compromising on internet security and yielding to phishing websites. Such websites must immediately be reported and marked as unsafe. To combat the unscrupulous attack from scammers, for various financial and non-financial reasons, they must be reported immediately to the proper cyber protection agency.