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Phishers Exploit Financial Crisis to Their Advantage

Though the latest economic crisis brought doom for most of the business organizations, phishers community found a silver lining in this upheaval also. On October 9, 2008, USA's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an advisory, advising Internet users to look out for spam connected to the Wall Street turmoil.

The FTC advised users to beware of messages that seemed to have originated from a financial organization that had just taken over the user's bank. These e-mails could be from phishers waiting to steal private data - like banking details, passcodes and Social Security numbers to accumulate bills or perpetrate other offenses in the user's name.

The agency alleged that though phishing messages for personal information were common, phishers are now capitalizing on the financial crisis to deceive users into divulging their private data.

According to computer security analysts, online scammers are generating phony Websites, junk e-mails, phishing strikes and malware meant to capitalize on the angst created by the fiscal crisis, making them frantic for details.

Majority of these cyber frauds that revolved around phishing scams are spurred on by a chain of bankruptcies by banks, mergers and acquisitions. The clients of Washington Mutual and JPMorgan Chase were being flooded with phishing e-mails while Chase led a takeover of Washington Mutual. Furthermore, the clients of Citigroup and Wachovia are also likely victims of phishing.

Several bank consumers succumbed to requests for updation of data by the phony Websites since majority of them had not received any communication from their merged banks, where their entire life savings are banked.

Meanwhile, clients have been advised against falling prey to such lures. The FTC has also suggested various methods of escaping from phishers. But the cautionary issued by computer analysts asking customers to watch out for previous kinds of phishing scams is all the more significant since October is the Cyber Security Awareness Month.

A study conducted by Symantec and Zogby International covering 3,000 Americans indicated that though 80% believed they have deployed a firewall application, in reality just 50% have it fixed on their PCs -highlighting ignorance among computer users.

Related article: Phishers Expand Their Sphere of Attacks

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