Several different programs are used by Internet users to protect against phishing, or the theft of sensitive personal information through fraudulent e-mails or websites. A number of different methods are provided by different companies to protect personal information when using the Internet. The types of anti-phishing software vary from web browser security features to e-mail clients, anti-virus programs and bank software.
Anti-phishing software is sometimes included as a part of a web browser to protect users against web pages attempting to obtain personal information for the purpose of identity theft. Some tools can give users warnings about misleading web pages attempting to illegitimately obtain personal information. Others display a measurement of the trustworthiness of the site being visited, as well as the host country of the site and the name of the organization hosting the site. With this information, the user can establish whether or not the site is authentic and can be trusted with personal information.
Several programs have also been created to address phishing sent to users by e-mail. These programs start when the e-mail clients are launched and evaluate every e-mail received. Any e-mail designated as phishing is placed in a special phishing e-mail folder. It is then up to the user to review this phishing e-mail folder and decide if any e-mail has been improperly categorized, in the same way as with a junk or spam folder.
Since phishing scams target certain websites in particular, the companies running these websites have responded with their own specialized anti-phishing software. Banks have also released software to battle phishing scams. Some programs block attempts to log onto fraudulent websites and report these attempts to the bank. Warnings are given to users when phishing scams are detected by the program, and these users are then responsible for following the warnings. If the users ignore the warnings, they are liable for any identity theft that results.
Anti-virus programs also include features that allow them to track down phishing scams. These may allow and encourage users to report potentially fraudulent sites. Other anti-phishing software attacks phishing scams from the opposite end of the spectrum, offering services that assist companies in preventing identity thieves from exploiting the company’s name for phishing scams against its customers.