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Festive E-Greetings Turn Out Malicious Messages

Holiday shoppers this season are going to encounter a variety of online threats that are likely to explode in December 2006, say security trackers. As the festive season approaches, there would be a rise in e-greetings and e-mails.

Traditional mass mailers expand their activity with bump e-greetings towards the close of the year. But in 2006, the bulk of junk messages are expected to cross limits. There is already celebration by senders of unsolicited ads at the winding of the harvest season and starting of Christmas.
Every holiday has a successful spam burst because people tend to read the harmful messages. Consumers at that time shop online more and are very eager to gift ideas and watch out for electronic gift cards. spammers take advantage of this demand by sending fraudulent order confirmations and e-cards, while promoting their products.

Experts, therefore, advise consumers to fence up early protections and employ general caution. It is important that one doesn't open an e-greeting coming from an unknown source, for it could be from an identity thief. According to Patrick Nolan, virus researcher at Fortinet, over the scale of 1 to 10 on creativity, fake e-greetings are on the higher side.

Security trackers classify these e-greetings as malicious messages. When recipients open them, they are asked to click on a URL to actually read the message. Although the site shows a normal looking e-greeting card but it has a Java script that compromises computers hidden behind the HTML. The HTML code collects vital computer settings such as operating system, browser, virtual machine and anti-virus programs. The next part is downloading certain trojans that result in computer infection.

These bad guys proficiently manipulate people, says Dave Jevans, chairman of the Anti-Phishing Working Group. And they get smarter during the festive seasons. They employ keyloggers that record 'network log-on' passwords or other data that could enable them to intrude network defenses. The purpose is to steal sensitive or valuable information or even user identities.

According to Jevans, most of the e-mail greeting cards are fraudulent. In December 2005, the number of password-stealing Web pages rose by 83%.

Related article: Festival Shoppers Advised to Take Precautions against Web Threats

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