The Department of Communications released research today about Internet security, which says that Irish Internet users are faced with almost 300 phishing attacks each day.

RTÉ.ie put some questions to the General Manager of the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland, Paul Durrant, to find out more about phishing and Internet security.


RTÉ.ie: What is phishing and does it have anything to do with US rock band Phish?

Phishing is the use of online techniques (usually a spam bait and fake website hook) to try to trick a person into divulging personal information that can be used by criminals to defraud the victim of money or trick others to supply goods to them, which are then charged to the defrauded person's bank account. 

(Phishing might be a term aficionados gave to listening to the band Phish but despite conspiracy theorists best efforts to find a connection, phishing as a popular criminal past-time has nothing to do with rock music!)

RTÉ.ie: Who is at risk from phishing?

Anyone who is unwary and has a credit card, charge card, online auctioning account, online 'cybercash' account, bank account, etc.

RTÉ.ie: What type of information is being sought through phishing?

Usually logon and password / PIN access information so a criminal could use your account as if they were you.

RTÉ.ie: How can Internet users tell if a website is secure?

Use only those you know and trust.  If it is a new website check it out by some searches. Do they give address and contact details? If not, be even more wary. 

Check the contact details in the telephone directory. Only sign on directly from your browser and not from links provided in obscure emails.

Always have your status bar switched on and if the URL that appears there when you click a link is not the financial service you expect, do not continue.

RTÉ.ie: Aside from phishing, what are the other security issues Internet users should be conscious of?

Viruses, spyware and trojans (a piece of software, which looks like it will perform a certain action but in fact performs another).

RTÉ.ie: How savvy are Irish Internet users about safety?

ISPAI does not have this information. But its members help to raise awareness among Internet users by contributing to initiatives like Make IT Secure, Safer Internet Day and providing ongoing security reminders to our customers.

RTÉ.ie: What simple steps can people take to improve their security?

  • Remember there are scammers everywhere both real-world and online.
  • The old saying applies 'If it's too good to be true, it probably is'.
  • Don't get tricked into providing your details to win gifts in competitions from entities you have never heard of.
  • The golden rule is to never give out your logon, password or PIN numbers in full. Your legitimate financial service provider would never ask for these together and will never ask for you to renew these online if there is a problem. If you are ever confused, do not put in your personal data, phone your bank branch or bank customer support and ask them about it.
  • Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date
  • Delete spam and never answer it because it only validates your email account details to the spammers and makes you a target for more spam, which often has viruses or trojans attached to it.
  • You should alert your bank or other account provider of scams purporting to come to them directed at you.
  • Report suspected illegal content to

RTÉ.ie: Will those security measures affect the speed of a user's computer and Internet connection?

Awareness and common sense do not affect the speed of your Internet connection.

Anti-virus or spyware products have a very marginal impact on download speeds, but the security they afford is worth it.