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Microsoft targets the phishers

By Steve Malone

Posted on 21 Mar 2006 at 10:58

Microsoft says it plans a legal onslaught on the phishers.

Microsoft says it is undertaking a massive legal campaign against the phishers. The company has revealed that by the end of June 2006 it will have started legal actions in more than 100 cases throughout the European, Middle East and Africa against people alleged to behind online fraud. As many as 53 of these will have begun by the end of March 2006

Speaking at the European Internet Services Providers Association, Neil Holloway, the company's European Chief told the delegates 'Phishing is a crime. It undermines consumers' trust in the Internet and is an impediment to European policy-makers' and industries' efforts to boost citizens' use of innovative and valuable Internet services'.

Phishing is where a website impersonates a bank or other big organisation in order to fool visitors into parting with valuable personal data that can then be used to steal their money. And it's big business. The practice is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars to the criminal gangs behind it. According to the recent Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, the company detected an average of 7.9 million phishing attempts per day, an increase of 39 per cent over the first half of 2005.

The Europe wide round of prosecutions are part of the larger Global Phishing Enforcement Initiative (GPEI) in which Microsoft and others combine to track down and prosecute the people behind online fraud. Across the world Microsoft has led to the closure of 4,744 phishing sites, and in the US alone it filed 117 phishing lawsuits last spring.

The first 53 legal actions to be brought under the GPEI in Europe, the Middle East and Africa today include legal actions against alleged phishers in Turkey, France, Spain, Morocco, the U.K., Germany, Austria, Egypt and Sweden. They will be followed by at least 51 more cases throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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