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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Phishing Web sites grew by 33% in November

The number of phishing Web sites associated with online identity theft scams grew by 33% in November, after dropping off in September and early October, according to data compiled by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) and shared with IDG News Service.

The group received reports of 1,518 active phishing sites during November, up from 1,142 in October.

Reports of phishing Web sites have grown by an average rate of 28% monthly since July, as scam artists broadened their efforts to lure customers of companies that do business online, according to Peter Cassidy, secretary general of the APWG.

The APWG is an industry group of representatives from law enforcement and private sector companies, including leading Internet service providers, banks and technology vendors.

Phishing scams are online crimes that use spam to direct Internet users to Web sites that are controlled by thieves, but designed to look like legitimate e-commerce sites.  Users are asked to provide sensitive information such as a password, bank account information or a credit card number, often under the guise of updating an account.

Customers of 51 online brands were targeted by phishing scams in November, compared with 44 brands in October, Cassidy said.  However, just six companies drew more than 80% of all phishing scams, he said.

The APWG no longer identifies the organizations that were the most popular targets of phishing scams, citing resistance from the group’s industry members, he said.  However, eBay and Citibank were phishers’ top targets in past months, according to previous APWG reports.

The creation of phishing Web sites in October and November resumed the torrid pace it reached in mid-August, after dropping off for much of September.  Phishing attacks have emerged as a potent threat in 2004.  More than 18 million e-mail messages linked to the attacks have been stopped this year by e-mail security provider MessageLabs.

Industry groups, including the APWG, responded by calling attention to new attacks and working to shut down Web sites used in the scams to harvest personal information from unsuspecting Internet users.

Recently, leading companies and law enforcement agencies unveiled a new antiphishing initiative.  Digital PhishNet brings together companies such as Microsoft, America Online and VeriSign with the FBI, Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service to improve coordination when identifying and shutting down phishing sites.

Like other companies, including Internet service provider Earthlink and eBay, GeoTrust distributes a free Web browser plugin that warns users when they visit phishing Web sites.

http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2004/1210phishwebs.html

Posted on 12/09
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