Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cyber-criminals exploit consumer woes

SOUTH AFRICA : Cyber-criminals exploit consumer woes



25 November 2008


Cyber-criminals are now using more sophisticated and targeted methods to dupe consumers.

A research report released by Panda Security reveals that spamming, related to personal finances, has doubled over September and October – a sign that cyber-criminals are increasing efforts to cash in on economic uncertainty.

“One of our biggest concerns for 2008 was that cyber-criminals would improve their targeted spamming tactics to dupe consumers, and the content and volume that we have seen during these tough economic times is proof that, unfortunately, our prediction was correct,” says Jeremy Matthews, head of Sub-Saharan operations at Panda Security.

According to the company, spam continues to make up 90% to 95% of all e-mail traffic, with spam related to the economy representing 10% of total spam. Even more worrying are findings which reveal that, while overall spam has increased 5%, the new spam related to the economy and personal finances has increased by 10% over September and October, it says.

Cashing in

This soaring spam comes in the form of malware targeting consumers with credit card debt, and phishing attacks targeting people threatened with property closures. Consumers are offered relief for their financial woes and when the users click on links embedded in the e-mails, an action automatically downloads viruses or redirects users to phishing sites.

“With content this timely and this targeted, there is no doubt that cyber-criminals are upping the ante with their tactics,” says Matthews.

Using phrases such as ”are you drowning in debt? Get the cash you need”, “legally erase your debt” or “an online loan gives you money now”, spammers effectively dupe troubled and gullible consumers, adds Matthews.

'Noble' laws

“Our legislative attempts are noble. We're moving in the right direction with our efforts on educating police and making people aware of how we're regulating conduct. But a lot more can be done,” says Sizwe Snail, cyber-law expert at the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association.

Spamming is listed as a criminal offence in section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act and consumers receive additional protection through terms set in the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and the FICA Act.

Snail emphasises that, while awareness needs to be raised on such legislative measures to fight cyber-crime, consumers need to learn to recognise and avoid spam.

“People are not aware and they're not keen to learn. It's is an African problem, because Africa is the hub of cyber-criminal activity,” says Snail.

No comments:

This Day in History

Thanks for your Visit