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Hackers Launching More Phishing Attacks to Exploit Recession

According to a new report from research company Gartner, more Americans are becoming susceptible to online fraud during the current time of economic recession. The company states that over 5 Million consumers in the United States lost cash due to phishing assaults over a 12-month period ending in September 2008, resulting in a 39.8% rise from the preceding 12 months (October 2006-September 2007).

Avivah Litan, Security Analyst at Gartner, says that phishers are continuously taking advantage of the adverse economic conditions, as reported by Business Week on April 14, 2009.

Furthermore, scammers are also cleverly using social engineering tactics to trick Web users into disclosing sensitive and confidential information, Gartner said.

Moreover, during 2008, around 80% of the adult Internet users had got an e-mail as part of one phishing campaign or another, a rise from 41% during 2004, reveals Gartner's report. Among the users who got spam mails, approximately 4.26% reported of money lost to online fraudsters.

Litan says that if the response rate to an e-mail promotional campaign is even 4%, it is regarded as very successful. This indicates that the associated scammers are skilled manipulators, she states.

The report further discovered that PayPal, a subsidiary of eBay, was the most targeted brand in the past few years. The second highly prevalent phishing attack related to spam that offered lottery prizes and other awards. The third most attacked entity was eBay itself, with all banks following next in unison.

The report also states that the Bank of America received the largest number of phishing attacks among all banks. The reason for the highest number of attacks is that it is the biggest bank for domestic consumers, holding the greatest number of savings accounts.

Commenting on this point, Litan said that cyber criminals are far more skilled compared to banks. According to her, banks are usually large institutions with a number of distinct businesses that might not exchange enough dealings.

Meanwhile, Gartner's report matches with another report by security company Cyveillance which states that the phishing attacks increased enormously during September-October 2008.

Related article: Hackers Redirect Windows Live Search to Malicious Sites

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