How to escape the phishing nets.
Dot life - where technology meets life, every Monday. By Mark Ward.Technology Correspondent, BBC News website.
Phishing is becoming very popular with computer criminals. In the last 18 months the character of the spam reaching your inbox has undergone a subtle change. Slowly but steadily the come-ons for porn and penis pills are making way for bogus warnings about problems with online accounts - aka phishing. The Anti-Phishing Working Group reports that the average monthly growth rate in phishing sites between July 2004 and February 2005 was 26%. These phishing e-mails try to make you enter personal and login details on fake webpages made to resemble real bank sites. The first phishing messages and fake pages were easy to spot because of their mangled grammar and spelling.
But as career criminals have got involved the phishing messages and sites have got harder to distinguish. Now they use all kinds of sophisticated techniques to hide the fact you are not on a bank's website. Some spoof the address bar in your browser to make it look like you are on a legitimate site. It's got more serious because many criminals have realised that phishing is a lucrative trade. The start-up and running costs are low, the chances of being caught are slim and the returns are great.
Ebay and Paypal are the targets of many phishing e-mails. Help to spot phishing sites is coming from firms producing toolbars that tell you when you have strayed on to a bogus website. Ebay was one of the first to produce such a downloadable toolbar. Its toolbar goes green or red depending on whether you are on, or off, an eBay website. It has been produced to try to stop people paying for goods that never arrive.