Enterprises must be proactive against phishing, report says

E-mail scams are hurting the reputations of legitimate businesses, but there are technologies sprouting up to protect their interests, according to new research.

Internet con artists are constantly upgrading their techniques, which in turn is leaving a black mark on the reputations of legitimate enterprises that are being used as pawns to deceive the online public, new research finds.

Scams like phishing attacks to steal financial and personal information have gone from a "minor occurrence to a worldwide epidemic," said Sara Radicati, CEO and president of Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based consulting firm.

New Radicati Group research predicts

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that the number of unique phishing attacks worldwide will grow at a rate of 115% from 2004 to 2005. By 2008, an estimated 404 unique attacks will occur each month -- more than four times the 51 attacks predicted to occur in this year alone.

The majority of the attacks have targeted the financial industry, with 68% attributed to this sector alone in 2004. The credit card industry and e-commerce sector were the next most popular targets, with 17% and 12% of the attacks, respectively.

Radicati said that because such attacks have gotten more sophisticated, enterprises can no longer go without some form of protection.

Application plug-ins are the norm

Currently, the antiphishing product market consists of a potpourri services, including antispam, antifraud and identity management software. Each of these is typically deployed as a plug-in application for existing e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook, as as well as for Web browsers such as Internet Explorer.

Despite the growing concern over phishing threats, vendors and outsourcers are just beginning to roll out products and services to combat phishing and online fraud directly, Radicati said.

The current market, which is still immature, can be divided into two segments, Radicati said. The first focuses on protecting consumers from inadvertently divulging personal information, while the second is designed to protect an organization's brand, trademark and Web site from fraud.

Radicati Group estimated that the market for both segments will grow from a projected $202 million this year to more than $880 million by 2008.

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