Festive season sees Phishing boom

Predictions as to the increasing prevalence of phishing sites during the last month of 2009 have been proven correct by a survey carried out by Network Box.

The study found that attempts to gather consumer data by phishing sites accounted for more than 50 per cent of all the online criminal activity that took place in December.

According to the statistics, under 30 per cent of web-borne threats were phishing sites in November 2009, but that doubled to nearly 60 per cent the next month as the promise of millions of innocent online shoppers looking for a bargain created easy targets for the criminals behind the sites.

Internet security analyst Simon Heron commented that the vast amounts spent online before Christmas had always attracted the attention of the unscrupulous element looking to exploit the trust and naivety of the average shopper.

Mr Heron suggests that although Christmas has been and gone, the number of active phishing sites is going to remain high for the duration of January as the sales period gets into full swing. As such, consumers are advised to keep on their guard, protect their personal information and beware of bargains that look too good to be true.

The problem of phishing sites and malware is an international one and the country harbouring the most sites in December 2009 was Brazil, which was the nation of origin for over 20 per cent of viruses and just under 10 per cent of spam emails with phishing ties.

India is increasingly being used as a base for phishing sites and virus creation by cybercriminals according to the study, with nearly 7 per cent of December’s spam generated there, which is an increase of 2 percent from the previous month.

Phishing sites can be problematic for businesses as well as for home users, particularly as the Christmas rush sees many shopping from their place of work when they have free time. In order to prevent personal data theft and infection from viruses, it is essential that anti-virus software is installed and kept up to date.

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