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Symantec Fleshes Out Phishing

Security specialist Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) has urged users to beware of increasingly sophisticated phishing attacks as criminals hone their skills. The vendor has also snapped up anti-phishing specialist WholeSecurity Inc. in an attempt to further combat this threat.

Dean Turner, author of Symantecs latest Internet Security Threat Report, today warned users that risks to their IT infrastructure are changing dramatically. (See Symantec Issues Report .)

Speaking on a conference call, Turner explained that attackers are increasingly motivated by financial gain. This is a far cry, he said, from “the Website defacements,” that were hitting the headlines five years ago. “There’s a shift from hacking for fame to hacking for fortune,” he says.

This trend clearly prompted the vendor to make its latest M&A foray, snapping up WholeSecurity for an undisclosed fee. The startup's software checks whether Web sites are safe, as well as analyzing the behavior of viruses and worms. Symantec claims that because WholeSecurity's software does not rely on specific virus signatures, it can also be used to tackle the menace of "zero-day" threats (see Security Approaches Day Zero).

Phishing, which uses bogus emails to lure unsuspecting users to a fraudulent Website, is gaining momentum, according to Turner. “Attacks are becoming more targeted,” he says. In the first six months of this year, Symantec saw the volume of phishing-related messages rise from 2.9 million to 5.7 million a day. “Phishing is growing simply because it’s lucrative,” Turner explains. “The FBI stated that an identity theft ring was able to net more than $2 million.”

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