Credit: Genista

I was about to check my e-mail this morning—and, boy, would I have been screwed—when the phickle phinger of phate intervened. I happened to see the New York Times story on the “rapidly proliferating” e-mail fraud that experts call spear phishing.

Whereas common phishing e-mails are sent en masse by pseudo-banks and Nigerian princes, spear phishing is much more sophisticated. The e-mails are “highly targeted pitches that can look authentic because they appear to come from a trusted source”—a coworker, friend, or relative—and “contain plausible messages,” the NYT said.