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Phishing in 2007

Posted By On January 11, 2008 @ 2:35 PM In Security Help | No Comments

Q:
I know this is kind of an odd question, but do you have any statistics on the phishing attacks that hit in the year 2007? I was just wondering how everything ended up with them. Thanks for any information you may have!

A:
That’s actually a great question and I’m sure you’re not the only one out there who has been wondering the same thing. As a matter of fact, I saw some interesting information about phishing attacks awhile back, but I didn’t know if you all would be interested in it or not, so I passed it by. But when I saw this question in my e-mail the other day, I figured there were at least a few of you who wanted to know about it, so this one’s for you!

So, I guess we might as well get right into it. According to a survey conducted by Gartner market researchers, 3.6 million U.S. citizens were victims of various phishing attacks in the year 2007. Wow, 3.6 million! Can you even imagine? Plus, in the mix of all that, 3.2 billion U.S. dollars were lost as well. That’s extremely higher than last year’s statistics, which amounted to a loss of 2.3 billion dollars. And as you can probably tell, it’s only going to get worse from here on out.

Now, there is one positive note in all of this. In 2007, the average loss per individual person was lowered to $886 from $1,244 in 2006. While that’s good news, in the whole scheme of things, the overall damage increased because so many more U.S. citizens gave in to the phishing attacks. The survey also said that most of the phishing attacks came in disguise under the eBay and PayPal names. Of course, there are several others looming around the Web today, but those two seemed to be the most popular last year.

The Gartner company went on to explain that most phishers go for debit card numbers and bank account information first. They said the security measures for that kind of data are a lot less strict than credit card information. And since a lot of people give out that information for their eBay and PayPal accounts, there’s no easier way for phishers to get ahold of our personal information.

Gartner said they believe the same kind of phishing attacks will continue to increase until at least 2009. They may even go beyond that unless e-mail providers start to take firmer action against malware. All in all, I know this information is a little scary, but if you continue to use common sense when you’re going through your e-mail or when you’re signing up for a new online service, you will be just fine. As always, just be cautious of the e-mails you’re opening and if something looks suspicious, just delete it. If you use certain Web sites like eBay and PayPal, just make sure you’re logging in under a secure connection. If you pay close attention to everything you do online, you will be as safe as you can be.

Plus, if you’re not part of that 3.6 million statistic yet, you must be doing something right!

~ Erin


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