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Attempted email fraud and phishing attacks went up 50 per cent in January compared to the month before.

There were an average of 5.7 new and unique phishing attacks each day in January, according to research by the Anti-Phishing Working Group. Phishing emails appear to come from well-known businesses but they ask for account details and passwords. The collected details are used for credit card frauds and identity theft.

There were 176 unique attacks in January, of which only 13.6 per cent were 'repeats'. eBay was the most targeted company with 51 different emails purporting to come from the online auction house. Citibank and AOL were next with 35 and 34 attacks each.

Financial services account for 40 per cent of attacks; 34 per cent appear to come from retailers; and 24 per cent from ISPs.

Most phishing attacks direct consumers to a website to input their details. Almost ten per cent of attacks use a so-called 'cousin' URL – these include aol-wallet.com and ebay-secure.com which appear to be official sites but are actually registered by scammers.

In December a security flaw in Microsoft IE was identified which could be exploited to display a false URL in the browser's address bar – this was used in 7.8 per cent of attacks in January. A smaller percentage of attacks use Trojans which run key logging software to get hold of passwords. ®

For more information, or to report attempted attacks see: www.antiphishing.org

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