Cyber-squatting and phishing attacks on the rise

A study carried out by brand specialist MarkMonitor has reported that abuse of the World's top brands, through practices such as cyber-squatting and phishing, is rising.

The most common form of abuse is still cyber-squatting, where someone registers a domain name with the aim of selling it on at a later date, which rose by 18% in 2008 with 1,722,133 incidents reported.

However, phishing attacks, where website replicates another to try and acquire a person's private information, rose a massive 122% in the second half of 2008. Attacks on financial services rose 51% within the same period.

Talking to the BBC, Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer for MarkMonitor, said that 80% of sites identified as "abusive" in 2007 are still functioning today. "That 80% of sites identified in our study last year remain active today confirms that abuse is economically sustainable for fraudsters," he said. "We expect attacks to grow both internationally and in complexity, further increasing the threat to organisations' reputations and revenues."

The report also found that the majority of illegal sites are hosted in the United States, Germany and the UK.

Eddy Willems, a security analyst for Kaspersky Lab, said that fraudsters rely on people making mistakes, "They know users will mistype. They look out for domains that they can use to trick people.

"The only thing you can do is be vigilant, and make sure you have security protection installed on your computer."

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