Computer Crime Research Center


Phishers threaten e-commerce

Date: December 27, 2004
By: Ross Wehner

It takes a lot of wrongdoing to mobilize the FBI, nine of the top 10 U.S. banks and corporations like Microsoft and America Online.

All these organizations banded together this month to fight phishing, a fast-growing form of online identity theft that is costing billions of dollars and threatening the future of e-commerce.

"It's the fastest emerging threat to our members," said Andrew Weinstein, a spokesman for AOL, one of the founding members of the Digital PhishNet group. "It's right at the top of our hit list."

According to a recent study by Gartner Inc., a provider of information technology research, 57 million Americans have received phishing e-mails, which often bear subject lines such as "IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED."

Eleven million Americans have clicked on links inside these credible-looking e-mails, which in turn lead to what looks like the Web page of a bank or e-commerce companies such as eBay, PayPal or Visa.
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