By Prince Osuagwu
If there is nothing to do to   counter the menace of those who live by cunningly extorting unsuspecting users of their Personal Identification Numbers with the aim to getting into their accounts and keeping them miserable, there is every reason to create awareness on their modus operandi.

Today, illicit activities of such people and even their numbers have increased with about 21 percent if reports by world renowned Anti Virus Research center, Symantec is any thing to go by.

The report agrees that day after day, fraudsters are getting cleverer and executing their scams using new tricks and tactics.
In order to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, fraudsters are using inventive techniques and masquerading as trustworthy entities using electronic communication.

The research centre says that in this month’s report, it observed a 21 percent increase from the previous month in all phishing attacks.  Phishing is the act of reproducing a company’s website and presenting it as if original with the aim of deceiving unsuspecting visitors to the site.

According to Symantec, there was a total of 143 different Web hosting services served as the home for 2,814 phishing sites in the month of June.  This is as free Web-Hosting services have been the easiest form of phishing in terms of cost and technical skills required to develop fake sites. Some advantages of using free Web-hosting services for scammers includes a free service means no restrictions on the use of these services, there is no scarcity of free Web hosting service providers on the Internet sand use of multiple site locations in the messages brings in some variety.

The report however added that on a positive note, many free web hosts have also improved their preventative and corrective anti-phishing measures, significantly decreasing the lifespan of phishing sites on their systems

“The phishing scam was technically unique as it asked the intended victims to supply details and print a form. The completed form was to be sent to the mailing address to process the tax refund. “If someone completed the form and clicked on the Print button, what actually happened was the confidential information was sent to a server utilizing the fraud domain” says the report.

It also added that some of the phishing links would redirect the potential victims to a fake tax refund form to acquire details such as a Tax File Number and other general information. At the bottom of the form, details such as a credit card number and ATM pin number were required for the phony tax refund process.

Symantec observed a nine percent increase from the previous month in the total number of phishing URLs generated using phishing toolkits but said that when compared against all phishing attacks the proportion of phishing URLs using toolkits actually reduced to 38 percent.

It said that the decrease could be partially attributed to a significant increase in the total number of phishing URLs utilizing free Web-hosting services.


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