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Pharming casts shadow over rising ecommerce sales

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Online sales jumped 31 per cent in the 12 months prior to March 2005, according to a study by net infrastructure firm VeriSign. Transactions settled by VeriSign Payment Services, which accounts for roughly 37 percent of North American ecommerce, reached $10.69bn between 1 January and 31 March 2005, a new record. The average transaction value rose 4 per cent, from $144 in Q404 to $150 in Q105.

But fraud remains a problem with 84.9 per cent of attempted fraudulent transactions originated from US computers. Canada was second with 5.2 per cent, followed by the UK (1.1 percent), Australia and Germany (0.9 per cent) and Japan (0.7 per cent).

The latest edition of the VeriSign's Internet Security Intelligence Briefing (ISIB) singles out phishing and pharming as particular threats to ecommerce growth. Phishing involves trying to trick users into handing over security credential to bogus websites, prompted through spam messages, that pose as online banking or retail outlets. Pharming takes this attack one step further by attempting to intercept communication of personal data between a user and a genuine enterprise Web site by installing spyware on computers, or by subverting DNS servers to redirect users to bogus websites.

On March 16, VeriSign detected an attack against DNS servers that was potentially an attempt to poison the DNS cache. It reports the attack co-incided with a 300 per cent rise in probes of DNS servers, while surfers visiting some sites were redirected to a malicious Web site that distributed spyware and adware. Versign's report, which contains advice on mitigating against such risks, can be found here. ®

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