Huge Surge in Phishing Scams as Fraudsters Seek Financial Gain

Wednesday 21 April 2004 16:35 CET | News

There has been a vast increase in the number of phishing emails in circulation over the past six months, according to MessageLabs. In September 2003, the number of phishing emails seen by MessageLabs was 279. By March 2004, this figure had risen almost 800-fold to 215,643. The number of phishing emails peaked in January 2004 at 337,050, an increase of more than 1200 percent.

To date, phishing has occurred on every major English-speaking continent. The latest recorded victim is one of Switzerlands largest regional banks, Basler Kantonalbank. With headquarters in Basel, the bank has warned customers to be wary of emails claiming to come from the bank asking for sensitive personal details. In the United States, Citibank, eBay, PayPal, Wachovia, Visa and Bank of America are on the list of major banks and online transaction companies that have been targeted, and in the United Kingdom, the perpetrators have gone after customers of Barclays, NatWest and Lloyds TSB, among others. While perpetrators are hard to track, last month the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department arrested a Texas man accused of creating bogus emails posing as messages from AOL and PayPal. Recent investigations have uncovered phishing is becoming more sophisticated and is increasingly being carried out by gangs in Eastern Europe and Russia rather than by individuals. Overall it is impossible to determine how many users have fallen victim to online phishing scams but analysts estimate that up to five percent of fraudulent emails succeed in obtaining the victims financial data. There are a number of options available to organizations wanting to protect themselves against phishing scams: -- Consider a fraud protection service that proactively monitors international email traffic and provides immediate notification upon the discovery of new phishing emails. -- Add or update existing incident response procedures so that security teams can quickly contact the right law enforcement bodies and work with them to identify and shut down fraudulent websites. -- Educate customers on a regular basis to ensure they are aware of how they will be communicated with, the kinds of information they will be asked for and the potential threat posed by phishing scams.

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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Payments General
Countries: World
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