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Researchers Urge Caution against Phishing Scams

McAfee Inc.'s Avert Labs has published a white paper that discusses the trends of the latest computer and online identity theft. It also points at major growth in keyloggers and phishing scams.

McAfee Avert Labs titled the report "Identity Theft" that shows a 250 percent increase in keyloggers between January 2004 and May 2006. Keyloggers are malicious code that record typing behavior of a user to snatch password and other sensitive information. The report notes that the Anti-Phishing Working Group tracked phishing alerts also during January 2004 and May 2006. The research found that the phishing alerts multiplied by 100-fold over the mentioned period of time.

Identity theft is now a world phenomenon that haunts people across the globe, said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs on January 15, 2007 in its company press release. He therefore suggests greater awareness, increased vigilance and skepticism to protect users. According to him, by learning the points of vulnerability, and how and why miscreants carry out identity theft, and then taking the necessary precautions can surely save people from being victimized.

The study indicates how identity theft costs enormously on national economies across the world. According to the calculations of the Home Office (UK) the loss due to identity theft was nearly 6 billion pounds over the past three years. Specifically, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has cited the U.S. total a threatening $50 billion per year and warns it to rise.

Security research manager for McAfee Avert Labs, Dave Marcus attributes the expansion of keyloggers to increasing targets on financial institutions by malware authors. Marcus added that the most amazing thing was how attackers were still being successful in luring people to surrender personal details. People have still not learnt to avoid e-mails they didn't ask for. E-mail attachments with trojans are therefore still circulating. Similarly, there is also continuous growth in spam and phishing attacks that direct recipients to bogus sites.

The research paper urges users to be vigilant of phishing scams described as fraudulent e-mails and spurious websites that pose as legitimate businesses and dupe innocent people into disclosing personal information.

Related article: Researchers Taking Keen Interest in Apple’s Vulnerabilities

» SPAMfighter News - 1/19/2007

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