What Is Phishing Email and How to Avoid Phishing Attacks

Even though they’ve been around practically since the dawn of the internet, phishing scams remain one of the most threatening types of cyberattacks in existence. The purpose of this article is to explain the question “What is phishing email?” and help you avoid swallowing the countless sharp hooks cyber criminals use to catch unsuspecting victims.

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What is Phishing Email?

A phishing email is any malicious email message that's sent by cyber criminals to obtain money or sensitive information. The term “phishing” is a spin on the word fishing, and it alludes to the fact that the authors of phishing emails often use fake email addresses, websites, and even security certificates to lure unsuspecting victims.

Modern phishing emails can be extremely convincing and difficult to recognize, so it’s absolutely paramount for all email users to learn how to spot a phishing email and how to prevent phishing attacks.

How to Prevent Phishing Attacks?

Phishing attacks have been around for several decades, and they have evolved dramatically over the years. Many tips on how to stop and prevent phishing attacks have become outdated, while other tips are still relevant to this day.

1. Be Wary of Unknown Senders

Whenever you receive a personal email from someone you don’t know, be extremely cautious. Phishers sometimes like to impersonate legitimate companies and people to steal login credentials and other personal information, but they can succeed only when they successfully lure you in and make you do what they want you to do.

If you suddenly receive an email asking you for personal information from someone you don’t know, don’t hesitate to give the person a call before replying. IT administrators sometimes like to simulate phishing attacks because they want to teach employees that email addresses can be faked, and you don’t want to label yourself as someone who blindly trusts emails from unknown senders.

2. Look for Bad Grammar and Improper Spelling

Long gone are the days of Nigerian princes asking for small loans in exchange for millions of dollars, but phishing emails with bad grammar and improper spelling are still very common. You may even stumble upon a phishing email written in completely broken English that’s below the level of leading machine translation tools.

That said, most grammar and spelling mistakes are quite subtle and sometimes even intentional. For example, a phisher may decide to write “appIe” (capital i) instead of “apple” (lowercase L) to register a domain name that’s visually indistinguishable from the real domain name.

3. Avoid Suspicious Attachments

Legitimate organizations seldom send emails with attachments. Phishers, on the other hand, send email attachments all the time. In one Apple phishing email scam, cyber criminals send fake Apple invoices that mirror the look of real Apple invoices. Sometimes, the invoices are simply vessels used to distribute malware. Other times, the invoices contain links that lead to a fraudulent website that looks just like the genuine Apple website. The fake website typically asks for login credentials, which is how the scammers are able to steal accounts belonging to Apple users.

4. Learn to Recognize Common Types of Phishing Scams

There are at least six common phishing attacks that you should learn to recognize:

5. Keep Your Inbox Clean and Organized

Phishing emails wouldn’t be as effective as they are if people kept their inboxes clean and organized. Unfortunately, most people receive so many email messages every single day that it’s virtually impossible to keep up with them without the help of bulk email organizer like Clean Email.

Put an End to Email Phishing with Clean Email

Clean Email is a bulk email cleaner that can protect you from spam with its automation features, including Auto Clean and Unsubscriber. The former lets you automatically apply various actions to new emails just by checking a single checkbox. All automation rules appear in a convenient dashboard that lets you manage them with ease.

Auto Clean feature in Clean EmailAuto Clean feature in Clean Email

Unsubscriber is perfect for unsubscribing from unwanted marketing emails, which may actually be phishing emails in disguise. Even if the sender does not provide an option to unsubscribe, Clean Email will make sure that unwanted emails won't stay in your inbox and bring your productivity to a screeching stop.

Unsubscribe from emails with Clean EmailUnsubscribe from emails with Clean Email


Phishing scams are not going anywhere, which is why it’s so important for all email users to learn how to spot and prevent them. Fortunately, tools like Clean Email have proven themselves to be very effective when it comes to automatically removing unwanted email messages before they can cause any trouble.

Clean Email Team

Updated on Feb 23, 2021

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