06 December 2004

Phishing moving to prime time...

With an estimated 4.5 million "Phishing" attacks last month now being reported by Messagelabs our customers and clients need to be even more aware of this growing threat. This is especially true since the Phishers have figured out how to extract valuable information without someone clicking on a hyperlink in the email itself.

The boom in phishing attacks -- spam that masquerades as messages from legitimate companies that tries to dupe users into divulging confidential information, such as bank or credit card account numbers -- has been phenomenal. MessageLabs tracked a mere 279 phishing e-mails in September 2003, but a year later, monitored over two million in the same month. During November 2004, MessageLabs tallied a whopping 4.52 million phishing-related messages.

And if you think that's bad, wait until next year, said Natasha Staley, an information security analyst with U.K.-based MessageLabs. "Phishing is really only 12 to 18 months old. It's not even in its prime."

Phishers, who are believed to be composed primarily of organized criminal gangs, many of them based in central and eastern Europe, including the republics of the former Soviet Union, are quickly refining their techniques, added Staley, to make their bogus messages even more enticing or effective.

You have to have diligent awareness campaigns for your customers, members and clients if you are going to mitigate the risks of operational losses. Banks, e-commerce sites and any other big brand on the net is being targeted by a growing criminal element.

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