phish·​ing | \ ˈfi-shiŋ How to pronounce phishing (audio) \

Definition of phishing

: a scam by which an Internet user is duped (as by a deceptive email message) into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly

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Other Words from phishing

phisher \ ˈfi-​shər How to pronounce phishing (audio) \ noun

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Phishing is one of the many new computer-related terms that have found their way into the general lexicon over the past decade or so. Its "ph" spelling is influenced by an earlier word for an illicit act: "phreaking." Phreaking involves fraudulently using an electronic device to avoid paying for telephone calls, and its name is suspected of being a shortening of "phone freak." A common phishing scam involves sending e-mails that appear to come from banks requesting recipients to verify their accounts by typing personal details, such as credit card information, into a Web site that has been disguised to look like the real thing. Such scams can be thought of as "fishing" for naive recipients.

Examples of phishing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Stu Sjouwerman is the Founder and CEO of KnowBe4 Inc., the world's largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform. Stu Sjouwerman, Forbes, 11 June 2021 MoneyGram had struggled to get past the settlement, which arose from a series of mass-marketing and consumer-fraud phishing schemes that prosecutors said were perpetrated in part by corrupt company agents and defrauded tens of thousands of victims. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, 10 June 2021 As a result, new phishing campaigns are detected every day by FortiGuard Labs. Andy Meek, BGR, 9 June 2021 Twitter later suspended the account that targeted Bidali with the phishing attack. Jon Gambrell, ajc, 31 May 2021 Many cybersecurity companies say artificial intelligence could better combat a popular hacking tactic known as phishing. Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 25 May 2021 Social engineering and phishing account for 69% of cyberattacks targeting public officials and administrators. Dan Patterson, CBS News, 19 May 2021 Spear phishing is considered a user problem -- an external factor to the security model. Arun Vishwanath, CNN, 13 May 2021 Hackers may barrage employees with phishing emails, convincing the user to download a file or visit an infected website, unleashing the hostile malware. Washington Post, 12 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'phishing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of phishing

1996, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for phishing

respelling of fishing, with ph- probably after phreaking

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Learn More About phishing

Time Traveler for phishing

Time Traveler

The first known use of phishing was in 1996

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Statistics for phishing

Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Phishing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for phishing


phish·​ing | \ ˈfi-shiŋ How to pronounce phishing (audio) \

Legal Definition of phishing

: a fraudulent operation by which an e-mail user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information which can be used for illicit purposes (as identity theft)

History and Etymology for phishing

alteration of fishing (probably influenced by phreaking illegal access to a phone system)

More from Merriam-Webster on phishing

Nglish: Translation of phishing for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about phishing


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