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Trojans fuel ID theft boom

Phishing season

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Identity theft, both offline and online, is on the rise with keylogging Trojan software often forming the weapon of choice for would-be fraudsters, according to a new study by net security firm McAfee.

McAfee reckons the number of keylogging malware packages increased 250 per cent between January 2004 and May 2006. The number of phishing attacks tracked by the Anti-Phishing Working Group has multiplied 100-fold over the same period of time, it notes.

A white paper on identity theft from McAfee runs through a number of identity theft techniques covering everything from dumpster diving to keylogging Trojans, alongside guidelines on how ordinary punters can guard their private data. Security tips include advice on recognising phishing emails and safe surfing tips such as keeping PC security packages up to date and avoiding the temptation of clicking links in email that point to potentially dodgy sites hosting malware.

Identity theft in all its various guises in one of the fastest growing crimes. Annual losses from the crime in the US alone are estimated at $50bn, according to figures (PDF) from consumer watchdog the Federal Trade Commission.

The Home Office estimates identity theft has cost the British economy a more modest $3.2bn over the last three years. ®

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