What is phishing and how to spot it

Phishing emails are designed to obtain information (often personal) or money from the recipient. They are often disguised as coming from somewhere legitimate and are becoming increasingly difficult to spot. There are several categorisations of these emails – phishing, spear phishing and whaling to name a few. They are all designed to do the same thing, however the target of the email changes.

Phishing emails often contain malicious software (malware or ransomware) designed to block you out of your files. There are some tell-tale signs that can help us spot these emails…

Think C.A.U.S.E

Current Events

Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year to make their scam seem more relevant.


Is the sender claiming to be from someone official (bank, doctor, solicitor or government)? Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want.


Are you told you have limited time to respond (24 hours for example) or immediately. Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.


Is the message offering something in short supply (concert tickets, money or a cure for a medical condition)? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.


Does the message make you feel panicked, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support or tease you into to wanting to find out more.