Cyber criminals are quickly taking advantage of the current ecomonic crisis. There has been a sharp rise in phishing since the collapse of several international banks nad trading houses (Lehmans, Merril Lynch), and the news of amalgamations, acquisitions and takers of several others (including Natwest, Halifax / RBS (HBOS) and Northern Rock).
Phishing is simply the trick used by criminals to steal customer information by setting up fake websites, and asking people to confirm their online banking details. Due to the credit crunch and chaos in the markets, some customers are keen to ensure that their money is safe – so as soon as theu receive an email telling them that they need to confirm their online banking details to ensure that their funds and transferred to the new bank, they click on the fraudulent links and give their personal data to the criminals.
UK banking groups have revealed that phishing attacks were up more than 180% this year, with many new targets. Due to the fast paced changes in the banking world, where many institutions have changed hands overnight, criminals and fraudsters have practically had a buffet of opportunity to con, deceive and steal on the web..
“Scammers are taking advantage of upheavals in the financial marketplace to confuse consumers into parting with valuable personal information,” US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
It said it expected fraudsters to pose as the new owners of banks or the federal agencies charged with oversight of struggling institutions.
The FTC has reminded customers to be casutious and not to reply to e-mail messages or pop-ups that ask for personal or financial information even if they appeared to come from a bank. Consumers should also make an extra effort to check bank and credit card statements for unauthorised withdrawals or transfers.
SecureComputing.com said its October spam report showed that many of the banks and other financial institutions caught up in the turmoil were topping its list of phishing targets. Top US banks targeted include JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia and Bank of America. It is expected that British banks will be targeted in coming weeks due to the many changes affected the major high street institutions, such as HBSO and Lloyds.
Another reason for the increase in phishing is that getting credit by stealing private date is becoming harder for criminals. Criminals are now simply focussing on going direct to the customer and requesting their information! From January to June 2008 phishing attacks rose by 186% on the same period in 2007, it said. In total it saw more than 20,682 phishing incidents during that six month period.