SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - As the holiday shopping season ramps up,
cyber cops warned on Wednesday that online fraudsters are working over
Analysts from the Global Threat Command Team at Web and e-mail
filtering company SurfControl (SRF.L) said phishing attacks -- spam
e-mails in which scammers lure people into divulging personal or
financial information -- are becoming increasingly sophisticated and
growing at a month-over-month rate of 20 percent to 25 percent.
Prior phishing scams were somewhat easy to spot. Either the lure was
rife with misspellings, or potential victims clicked on links that
routed them to ersatz sites that tried to appear legitimate but didn't
look quite right. But new scams are more sophisticated and harder to
identify as phishers employ spammers, hackers, virus writers, and Web
"'Tis the season when people will be most vulnerable to such scams,"
said Susan Larson, SurfControl's president of global contacts.
In one of the latest attacks, a phishing e-mail claimed to be
confirming an eBay purchase made through the Web auctioneer's PayPal
online payment system. The e-mail, which requested information that
could be used to steal money from the victim's bank accounts or credit
cards, was fraudulent.
BEWARE CYBER SANTAS
Others look more innocuous but contribute to the problem.
One offers to send children a Christmas greeting from Santa in
exchange for home or e-mail addresses.
Another asks for similar personal information and promises
participants a $200 gift card from Macy's department store.
Larson said the latter cases are probably examples of groups that are
harvesting live e-mail addresses to sell.
"There is no Santa Claus coming to you this season on e-mail," she
Larson said consumers should continue to be very wary of unsolicited
e-mail. She and others reiterated their recommendation that consumers
never give out personal or account information by e-mail.
If consumers need to respond to an e-mail information request, Larson
recommends that they go directly to the site themselves and that they
avoid following links provided in e-mail.
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