What is Phishing?

Phishing (i.e. fish for user’s financial information and password data) is a form of social engineering assault in the field of the computer security with malicious intention of the scammer. A phish scam can begin with a wicked user who sends out millions of fraudulent email messages that either appears having come from popular web sites or from site of trust like Banks, Online Retailers or Credit Card companies. Such spoofed email messages and web sites from the phisher appear official enough and people to often respond to the requests made.

The most widespread gambit in phish activity is to carbon copy the Web page code from a major site – such as Citibank- and setup a replica page that seems to be part of the company’s site. A bogus e-mail is sent out with a link to this page, which say notifies the recipient that their account has been de-activated due to problem and solicits the user’s credit card data or password to re-activate the account. Believing that these emails are genuine unsuspecting people reveal their sensitive, secret and secured information like credit card numbers, passwords, bank accounts information, SSN or any other personal information to the phisher who in turn starts conning the victims using such captured information.

In short to understand modus operandi involved with phishing is that it is a two-time activity of a scammer. As a first step the identity of reputed company doing online business is stolen either through fake web pages or some other means. Then use these fake pages as e-mail hoax to victimize consumers.

Eroding Consumer Faith
Today phisher attacks are being viewed as never ending affair in e-business as phishing scams are shooting up. Any enterprise can be targeted from any corner of the world and the geographic anonymity of the criminal operating the scam cannot be pinpointed. So the crook cannot be easily nabbed and thereby detection/prevention of such crime can be virtually impossible.

The really worrying part is that these scams look so convincing, the subject matter could be almost anything and so many people are falling prey. The recent report confirms that 2-5% of the recipients fell for Citibank email phishing scam. The Anti-Phishing Working Group, an industry association made up of representatives from the high-technology industry and law enforcing bodies, identified more than 1400 unique phishing attacks in June-2004, for which available statistics are charted below.

Number of unique phishing attacks 1,432
Peak number of unique phisher attacks per week 321
Organization most targeted by attacks Citibank
Industry most targeted by attacks Financial Services
Percentage of attacks that use e-mail spoofing 95%

This phenomena and such alarming stats is shattering the consumer trust in e-commerce which will only mean less likelihood of online shopping because of threat of phishing activities. As stated by Gartner, the biggest issue to corporation is that phishing scams spoils the integrity of e-mail communications, so they can’t count on this channel with customers. The U.S. Secret Service calls these online fraud and identity theft scams as “The bank robbery of future”.

Your recommended source for phishing information and how to avoid this online scam.

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