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Phishers Take Advantage of Financial Crisis

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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An interesting note in Foreign Affairs, Net Effect: Caught in the Net: Bank Customers:

The financial crisis may have caught most of us flat-footed, but there’s one group that has easily adapted to the new economic order: cybercriminals.

The financial crisis may have caught most of us flat-footed, but there’s one group that has easily adapted to the new economic order: cybercriminals. Capitalizing on popular fears with new phishing campaigns, scammers are enjoying something of a bull market, according to the FBI. In a particularly clever ruse, criminals sent a fraudulent e-mail instructing Wachovia customers to hand over their online banking credentials ahead of a prospective merger with Citigroup. One cybercrime expert, who detected a jump in malicious software as U.S. stocks first headed south, told Information Week that economic anxiety could be causing nervous users to make bad decisions: “If the stock market is crashing, there’s not a lot of confidence.” Unless you’re a thief, apparently.

Economic uncertainty, a rash of mergers and general fear of financial collapse tend to justify unusual communications to consumers, leaving them even more susceptible to phishing scams than they might be otherwise. Financial companies, particularly ‘newsworthy’ ones, would do well to be extra-vigilant in giving consumers clear expectations of the types of communications that are safe and the manner in which to respond.

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